McLuhan and the Roots of Media Ecology

Lecture by Professor Paolo Granata, University of Bologna & U of T McLuhan Fellow

Sponsored by the Book & Media Studies Program at the St. Michael’s College

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Media Ecology is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry still largely untapped, although it is rooted in the North American intellectual tradition, as well as the Continental European one. The lecture aims systematically to present the relationship between Marshall McLuhan and a wide range of twentieth century thinkers who shared an approach to media studies as a complex system of relations and processes, a habitat that can be seen to embrace the deep roots of the changes that shape human culture.

The use of the word “ecology” according to its original etymon implies that the media are not treated, as they usually are, as mere means or tools used by people to communicate or interact with the world. Media ecology rather implies an holistic view that approaches the media as a complex system of cultural, technological and communication forms within which the human beings live. Media ecology takes the plurality of media forms back to a unitary and coherent, although open and dynamic, human ecosystem. That means conceiving the media not just as conduits or instruments, but rather as actual environments, thus human ecosystems.