New McLuhan Centre Director, Scott Richmond, Will Put Artists in the Spotlight


Scott Richmond, shown with his cat Mush, says that Marshall McLuhan saw artists as people who understand the impact technology has on how we experience the world. He often collaborated with people making media.

Richmond wants “to situate the McLuhan Centre as a much-needed community and research hub for scholarship in humanistic media studies at the University of Toronto” and for its programming to “engage what I think of as the ‘aesthetic humanities’—the fields that work on literature, art, cinema, architecture, theatre, music, video games, and so on.”

In doing so, Richmond believes the Centre will be following the legacy of Marshall McLuhan, the renowned communications and media theorist who, for much of his career, taught and hosted discussions in the building now known as the McLuhan Centre. According to Richmond “the central insight of McLuhan’s work—in Understanding Media, but also in his career broadly—is that media technologies ‘alter our sense ratios,’ transforming our ways of encountering the world and of experiencing it.”

McLuhan, Richmond says, also wrote that it is artists who are able to grasp such changes in experience, to bring news of such changes, and to make those changes matters of common concern. “I take the question of aesthetics to be absolutely at the core of what McLuhan taught,” he said. “He collaborated with media and people making media at the time.”

Along with the artist-in-residence program, Richmond also plans to offer a new McLuhan Fellows program. The fellows — one from UofT and the two others from elsewhere — and the artist, who will be local, will each give a public talk related to the Centre’s annual theme, which will also be reflected in the artist’s work. Finally, the lectures and the artist’s work will be collected in an annual publication.

All these activities will promote conversation about and engagement with the artist’s work. The Centre will be promoting Toronto’s “exciting media art scene that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves compared to other settings,” says Richmond, who hopes that the first artist-in-residence will have their art installed in the fall of this year with fellows giving lectures over both the fall 2022 and winter 2023 terms.

The popular Monday Night Seminars, revitalized by Richmond’s predecessor Sarah Sharma — who will take on a new role as Director of UTM’s Institute for Communication, Culture and Technology in September 2022 — will continue, most likely on a monthly basis. Richmond is committed to the Centre being an “interdisciplinary space that fosters conversation between the aesthetic, humanistic, and social scientific iterations of media studies.”

ADDENDUM May 2022: Judging by the new Director of the McLuhan Centre’s description of his planned programming for the 2022 – 2023 academic year, the iSchool at the University of Toronto has once again chosen a Director for the McLuhan Centre who expresses little or no liking for the famous scholar whose name will be on his business card. So, this new Director and the previous one mark a departure from all that came before at the McLuhan Centre, from McLuhan’s establishment of his Centre for Culture & Technology in 1963 to the

The iSchool evidently feels no responsibility for supporting the legacy of Marshall McLuhan

The McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology


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