The “Unknown Explorations” Journals of Marshall McLuhan (1964 – 1972)

22Aug20
Explorations Cover Designed by Harold Kurchenska & Used Until April 1970
Explorations Cover June 1970 Redesign

THE “UNKNOWN” EXPLORATIONS
By Gary Genosko

Douglas Coupland describes the journal as a “glorious stew of diamonds and rhinestones and Fabergé eggs and merde.” For Coupland, Explorations was McLuhan’s “calling card throughout the world.” It is against this background of heavy valorization that what I am calling the “unknown” post-life of Explorations takes shape. Its existence has passed without much scholarly commentary. Indeed, some passing mentions of its second-life are without any content, as in Terrence Gordon’s remark: “In 1964 Explorations was revived as a sixteen page insert in the University of Toronto Varsity Graduate magazine for alumni and survived in that format into the 1970s”. No longer a stand alone journal, the new  Explorations would
need assistance to move forward. In fact, McLuhan in his published letters refers a number of times to the return of the journal, but is careful in each case to qualify the event, emphasizing how “small” and “restricted” it is and that it constitutes a “portion” of a larger publication. 

Journalist Robert Fulford, who has been a keen observer of publishing in Toronto for many decades, did, however, devote several paragraphs to the “unknown” years of the journal. He observed that after a few years of quiet from 1959 to 1964, the journal reappeared as an insert in Varsity Graduate, the University of Toronto alumni publication edited by Kenneth S. Edey, Director of the Department of Information, the University’s News Bureau and PR Department. This incarnation ran until 1972 when a note appeared to the effect that, as Fulford describes:

In the issue of May, 1972, at the bottom of his last page, [McLuhan] published the following: “Editor’s Note: Mr. Ken Edey tells me that in all the years that the Explorations series has appeared in the Graduate there has never been a response, pro or con, nor a comment of any sort.” That was his farewell. Could anyone but McLuhan have compressed his thoughts and feelings into such a magnificently deadpan line? 

Not entirely unknown, but apparently unnoticed, Explorations under the editorship of McLuhan alone dissolved in the spring of 1972. It is worth noting that the last 2 issues, after the re-design of the Varsity Graduate (re-christened University of Toronto Graduate), resembled the larger, 8.5 x 11 inch format Issue 9 of 1959 in size and shape, losing the versatility of the Varsity’s smaller scale of 5.5 x 7.5 inches—a magazine within the magazine.
(Read the entirety of this essay at https://amodern.net/article/the-unknown-explorations/.

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The 23 Post-First-Nine Issues of Explorations Are Now Available Online

The original Explorations consisted of Issues #1 through #8 and were jointly edited by Edmund Carpenter, who did much of the work, and Marshall McLuhan and published between 1953 and 1957 at the University of Toronto.

Issue #9 titled Eskimo was edited by Edmund Carpenter and consisted of text by him and images by Robert Flaherty and Frederick Varley.

Issues #1 to #8 and #9 were stand-alone issues, but issues #10 to #19 were inserted in the University of Toronto’s Varsity Graduate magazine while #20 to #32 were inserts in the University of Toronto Graduate.

Explorations in Communication, an Anthology, edited by Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan is a collection of articles from the first eight issues of the journal Explorations that was published in 1960 in Boston by Beacon Press. The book is now out of print but used copies are often available at amazon.com, http://www.abebooks.com and eBay.

The following 23 issues of Explorations (#10 through #32) are available online. For issues #10 through #19 clicking on the links for Varsity Graduate 11, 12 & 13 will take you to the entire Varsity Graduate magazine and so you must find the pages indicated for each issue where the Explorations insert starts. The page numbers in the Varsity Graduate magazine are given for each issue. Varsity Graduate 11 contains 4 issues of Explorations, Varsity Graduate 12, 3 issues and Varsity Graduate 13, 3 issues.

https://archive.org/details/varsitygraduate11univ

Contains: Summer 1964 (#10); Xmas 1964 (#11); Spring 1965 (#12); Summer 1965 (#13)

• Issue #10 of Explorations begins on p. 154/708 of this file which is p. 49 of the Summer 1964 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #11 of Explorations begins on p. 181/264 of this file which is p. 49 of the Xmas 1964 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #12 of Explorations begins on p. 49/264 of this file which is p. 49 of the Spring 1965 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #13 of Explorations begins on p. 623/708 of this file which is p. 49 of the Summer 1965 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/varsitygraduate12univ

Contains: Xmas 1965 (#14); Spring 1966 (#15); Summer 1966 (#16)

• Issue #14 of Explorations begins on p. 57/452 of this file which is p. 49 of the Xmas 1965 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #15 of Explorations begins on p. 233/452 of this file which is p. 49 of the Spring 1966 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #16 of Explorations begins on p. 49/176 of this file which is p. 49 of the Summer 1966 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/varsitygraduate13univ

Contains: Xmas 1966 (#17); Spring 1967 (#18); Summer 1967 (#19)

• Issue #17 of Explorations begins on p. 45/480 of this file which is p. 37 of the Xmas1966 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #18 of Explorations begins on p. 261/480 of this file which is p. 49 of the Spring 1967 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

• Issue #19 of Explorations begins on p. 65/136 of this file which is p. 65 of the Summer 1967 issue of the Varsity Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/explorationschristmas1967/mode/2up

Contains: Xmas 67 (Issue #20) 

https://archive.org/details/explorationsspring1968/mode/2up

Contains: Spring 68 (Issue #21)

https://archive.org/details/explorationssummer1968/mode/2up

Contains: Summer 68 (Issue #22)

https://archive.org/details/explorationschristmas1968/mode/2up

Contains: November 68 (Issue #23)

https://archive.org/details/graduate2no2uoft/

Contains: Spring 1969 (Issue #24)

• Issue #24 of Explorations begins on p. 81/121 of this file which is p. 81 of the Spring 1969 issue of the University of Toronto Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/explorationssummer1969/mode/2up

Contains: Summer 69 (Issue #25)

https://archive.org/details/explorationschristmas1969/mode/2up

Contains: Xmas 69/Winter 70 (Issue #26)

https://archive.org/details/graduate3no2uoft

Contains: Spring 1970 (Issue #27)

• Issue #27 of Explorations begins on p. 65/97 of this file which is p. 65 of the Spring 1970 issue of the University of Toronto Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/explorationssummer1970/mode/2up

Contains: Summer 70 (Issue #28)

https://archive.org/details/graduate3no4uoft/page/88

Contains: Winter 1970-71 (Issue #29)

• Issue #29 of Explorations begins on p. 89/137 of this file which is p. 89 of the Winter 1970-71 issue of the University of Toronto Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/explorationsspring1971/mode/2up

Contains: Spring 71 (Issue #30)

https://archive.org/details/graduate4no1uoft

Contains: Jan 1972 (Issue #31)

• Issue #31 of Explorations begins on p. 45/73 of this file which is p. 45 of the January 1972 issue of the University of Toronto Graduate.

https://archive.org/details/graduate4no2uoft

Contains: May 1972 (Issue #32)

• Issue #32 of Explorations begins on p. 41/65 of this file which is p. 41 of the May 1972 issue of the University of Toronto Graduate.

Note: This information was first published by New Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication. Vol 1, No 1 (Spring 2020).

Explorations in Communication (1960), edited by Marshall McLuhan & Edmund Carpenter included articles from the first 8 issues of Explorations


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