Saint Michael’s College Science Association, the Interconnectivity Studies Working Group and the University of St. Michael’s College will present a two-hour symposium on climate change and the Pope’s encyclical Laudato si’ (“Praise be to You”).

LOCATION: Alumni Hall 100, 121 St. Joseph Street

DATE: Thursday, April 6, 2017   ***   TIME: 4 PM to 6 PM

The focus of the symposium is a discussion and a dialogue among scientists and theologians of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ with its focus on global warming and climate change. In the encyclical, Pope Francis calls for such a dialogue. In Paragraph 13 and 14 of Laudato si’ he wrote:

Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded. I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”

Later in Paragraph 62 he wrote: “Science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.” The purpose of this symposium is to enter into the dialogue between science and religion that Pope Francis has called for.

To that end the following panel with scientists, theologians and scholars has been assembled.

Mary Hess is Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota. She is currently the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Visiting Chair in Religious Education at USMC Faculty of Theology. She is past president of the Religious Education Association.

David Nostbakken is a McLuhan Fellow at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. His PhD was supervised by Marshall McLuhan. He is a co-founder of a number of initiatives in the field of ecology and religion including Vision TV, the Green Channel, the Ecology Global Network, Power of Peace Network (UNESCO sponsored) and WETV Network (on sustainable development).

Stephen Scharper is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the School of the Environment. With graduate studies in theology and religion, one of the areas of his expertise is religion and ecology. He has also engaged in urban studies and the importance of water as a vital resource essential for life.

Kimberly Strong is a Professor in the Department of Physics and is the Director of the School of the Environment. She is a research scientist whose expertise is in atmospheric remote sounding using ground-based, balloon-borne, and satellite instruments for studies of ozone chemistry, climate, and air quality.

Ron Swail is the Chief Operations Officer, Property Services and Sustainability at the University of Toronto. Ron has initiated sustainability projects across the university and at the same time saved the university millions and millions of dollars.

Prof. Robert K. Logan is a Fellow of St. Michael’s College where teaches the McLuhan Seminar and the What is Information? Seminar. He is the Faculty Coordinator of the SMC Science Association. He is also the Chief Scientist of the sLab at OCAD University.

After the panel presentations and discussions among the panelists the student Interconnectivity Studies researchers from the Book and Media Studies program, Dalya Al-Bassam, Kate Gromova, Kalina Nedercheva and Olivia Penney will be introduced and they will read the abstracts of their research.

There will then follow a Q & A session with the audience.

By theLet’s help change Wikipedia gender-gap! Join us at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology on Saturday, March 18, 2017 from 11 am to 5 p.m. for a communal updating of Wikipedia entries on subjects related to art and feminism.

Date/Time: Sat, March 18, 2017  –  11:00 am to 5:00 pm EDT

Location: McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, 39A Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C3

View Map


Free! Everyone welcome! No previous experience required!

Wikimedia’s gender trouble is well-documented. While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of this disparity, however, is not. Content is skewed by the lack of female participation. This represents an alarming absence in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge.

Let’s change that. Join us at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology on Saturday, March 18, 2017 from 11 am to 5 pm for a communal updating of Wikipedia entries on subjects related to art and feminism. Last year, over 1500 participants at more than 75 events around the world participated in the second annual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, resulting in the creation of nearly 400 new pages and significant improvements to 500 articles on Wikipedia.

We will provide tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian and refreshments. Bring your laptop, power cord and ideas for entries that need updating or creation.


What can I bring into the event? Bring your laptop!

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?


 Marshall McLuhan

Teachers are always thrilled when a student of theirs gets a work they’ve written published, and even more so when that work was created in the first place for a school assignment. That was the case for Dr. Roxanne O’Connell, Professor of Communication, Visual and New Media at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. Her student Hannah Strait submitted a poem titled If McLuhan Were Here Today for an assignment in her media studies course called McLuhan’s Global Village. It was submitted in a significantly longer version than the extract below, which was the one that was published. I’m sure that Marshall McLuhan, poetry lover himself, would have enjoyed receiving poetry as an assignment submission, rather than just another academic paper. Congratulations, Hannah!

If McLuhan Were Here Today

by Hannah H. Strait

A heightened form of visual outlook,

Awakened to unrecorded conduct.

Conquering experience like a crook,

Rendering experience picked and plucked.


Showing people, instead of being us:

Pure perception is gained by life process.

The constant perpetual sharing is a fuss.

We must do for our internal progress.


The end of that tale can be quite woeful.

Mass consumed, mass produced, and we abuse.

The mind becomes numb, and life is dull,

No one stops to smell the flowers like ewes.


Our ego’s impulse is to stop caring,

What happens around us does not matter.

Now holding in our thoughts is daring,

And private sacred moments shatter.


What sort of hypocrisy happens here?

When GoPro petitions we are ‘hero’s’:

War joins the utile tool to drones building fear,

Loathsome, hideous deaths then tools bestow.


We must stop prostituting precious life.

Immerse yourself in the nature of things,

End your misery, your destruction, and strife.

Discover, and explore the beauty that brings.

Publication Details

Book Title: Upon Arrival: Commencement
Publisher: Eber & Wein Publishing
Year of Publication: 2016
Page: 169
Click on the Image for an Expanded View

Marshall McLuhan as Educationist

Few media or education scholars or the general public will have viewed this National Film Board of Canada 58-minute film that features Marshall McLuhan and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner. It has only recently been converted from its 16 mm film format to digital format and made available on the Internet. Jerome Bruner is cited by McLuhan in his writings in connection with the reform of an outmoded legacy educational system derived from and structured by Gutenberg print technologies and culture. He also cites other educational theorists such as John Dewey, Ivan Illich and Paul Goodman, among others, when writing or speaking about education.

Marshall McLuhan’s importance as an educationist, that is, “a person who is seriously concerned to understand how learning takes place and what part schooling plays in facilitating or obstructing it” (Postman, 1988, p. 83) has been insufficiently recognized. That is because the McLuhan revival has principally been attributable to media and communication teachers, scholars and practitioners and they do not concern themselves much with education. But, John Culkin, SJ wrote that McLuhan can help kids learn” (Culkin, 1967, p. 72) and an education historian insisted that “McLuhan throws down a challenge that no educator should ignore” (Gillett, 1966, p. 291). It increasingly appears that Marshall McLuhan’s ideas on reforming education are gaining greater traction and recognition in the Internet Age, just as his ideas on media have found new life and application today, rather than in the television age during which they were formulated.

Notes on The Child of the Future

… traditional teachers like herself were now being relegated to a formalist past – that a new partnership of discover was being forged between pupils and teachers which would be mediated by technology. To help explain the neo-progressive curriculum and “discipline-based” learning to educators, and to explore the future of education, particularly in regard to media technology, the NFB produced The Child of the Future: How He Might Learn (1964).

Both Marshall McLuhan, author of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), Understanding Media (1964), and The Medium is the Massage (1967), and Jerome Bruner, author of The Process of Education (1960), appear in this film. After watching two 9-year old boys, playing on a carpet with a road-race set, McLuhan observes, “the worm’s eye view is the most involving.” He suggests that education is “heading into a period of total involvement,” an assessment shared by Bruner who demonstrates a “playground philosophy of physics” with a class of grade 5 students. As the children send weighted cars down a ramp and measure how far they travel, Bruner comments, “The kind of learning they’re getting is a kind they can use.” A parade of educational gadgetry is displayed, all of it operated by eager children, some of whom appear to be no more than five years old. The audio-visual aids include 8 mm film loops and projectors (heavily invested in by the NFB), “automated” typewriters, and a language lab. In one classroom, educational filmstrips are synchronized with radio broadcasts; in another, children produce their own animated films; in yet another, high school students record their screen play of the war of 1812 with 8 mm cameras.

Dr. Jerome Bruner

The film surveys the contemporary use of television in school classrooms all over the world. In one school, a television character, Mrs. “Rhonda Loganbeel”, teaches “algebra over the airwaves”; in another, a Spanish telecast is beamed into a school classroom from an airplane overhead. In a Japanese classroom, students are filmed welcoming television into their school: “The kids made a television room for their new teachers, TV images”. McLuhan is critical of this use of television, but he is not especially clear about other possible uses: “It’s like treating the motor car like the horseless carriage,” he remarks. “You shouldn’t use new technology to replicate the old. A huge wastage of opportunity.” The media guru delivers a final, enigmatic missive in the film: “The child of the future will program consciousness just as we program curriculum.”Excerpt from Low, B.J. (2002). NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada, 1939 – 89. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, pp. 110 – 111.

About Dr. Jerome Bruner: and

Film Details: National Film Board of Canada   –   Montreal   –   1964   –   Director: Theodore Conant   –   58 minutes   –   b&w   –   16 mm   – Executive Producer: Frank Spiller   –   Photography: Jean-Claude Labreque


The Communications Revolution (1960) is a panel discussion between Marshall McLuhan and two other academics, Edgar Dale and Keith Tyler, and cultural critic Gilbert Seldes, who chaired the panel.  The event took place at the third annual  Conference on the Humanities on October 28-29, 1960 at Ohio State University. The general theme of the conference was “Popular/Mass Culture: American Perspectives.” McLuhan, already well-known for his views on electric media, was the central focus at the conference and gave a keynote lecture on the first day titled “Technology, the Media, and Culture,” the text of which can be found in Understanding Me: Lectures & Interviews (2003), pp. 13-33. 

The panel discussion on The Communications Revolution (1960) took place on the second day of the conference, chaired by Gilbert Seldes (1993-1970), the leading cultural critic of the day. Edgar Dale (1900-1985) was a Professor of Audio-Visual Education at OSU and the author of a well-known textbook about educational media that was the standard reference on audio-visual media for over a decade, reissued in several updated editions: Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching (1946). For more about Edgar Dale see . Keith Tyler (1905-1994) was a Professor of Radio Education at OSU. For more information see  . The text of this panel discussion can be found in Understanding Me: Lectures & Interviews (2003), pp. 34-43.

Select McLuhan Quotes From the Communications Revolution Panel

A New Medium Elucidates the Medium it Supplants: “I think one of the things that happens when a new medium comes on the scene is you become aware of the basic characteristics of older media in a way that you were not when they were the only things around. I think we’re becoming more aware now of what print is than we were before. Radio seems to have acquired more sense of its own identity since television, and movies likewise”. (The Communications Revolution in Understanding Me (2003), p. 35)

Obsolesced Media Are Repurposed: … it would seem natural that older forms [media or technologies] are put to new uses and discover new roles. The book, for example, in our time has discovered many new functions that it never had fifty or a hundred years ago. It has become very powerfully directed toward teaching people how to learn other things besides books [e.g. how-to books], how to learn arts of many kinds. The book has taken on a vast new function as a means of informing people, directing people’s skills in many, many areas.” (p. 35)

TV Invites Participation: “The character of the television image, I think, fosters this kind of participation simply because it is a rather poor image, and it involves the viewer in a great deal of completion of the detail that is missing visually in that image. The act of seeing television is very much that of participation as in reading a detective story where you are very much with it precisely because you are not given very much narrative information. You have to fill it in”. (p. 38)

Cool Individuals Are the Most Intriguing on Cool TV:  This one of the first if not the very first mention by McLuhan of his hot/cool media dichotomy.

[Senator] “McCarthy folded a week after he went on television. And if Huey Long had gone on television he would have been a flop at once. TV will not take a sharp character, a hot character. It’s a cool medium, and our politics are being cooled off to the point of rigor mortis, according to many people. The nature of this medium which calls for so much participation does not give you a completed package, a completed image. You have to make your image as you go. Therefore, if the person who comes in front of the TV camera is already a very complete and classifiable type of person – a politician, a highly obvious doctor type, lawyer type – the medium rejects him because there’s nothing left for the audience to view or to complete, and they say this guy’s a phony. There’s something wrong with this guy.” (p. 40)



Gigi Grande of ABS-CBN Broadcasting
By Abigail Viguella   –   February 23, 2017

A Marshall McLuhan fellow said that these are challenging times for journalists. “Given the recent events in the country, the media community indeed has received quite a beating. What with the start of President Duarte’s administration, the ‘war on drugs’, and most recently, Presidential Communications Secretary Andanar claiming that some reporters have been paid while covering the press conference on self-confessed hitman SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, these are indeed challenging times for journalists,” said reporter Gigi Grande in her speech. 

Gigi graced this year’s McLuhan Forum Series and talked about “Journalism in Challenging Times: Media as Guardians of Democracy and Watchdog of Society” at Liceo de Cagayan University, this city, February 22.

Grande of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation Investigative and Research Group is the 2016 awardee of the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship after her work on the pre-2016 poll campaign and the recent election period.

Grande said that next generation journalists should have critical analysis, research skills, courage, and principles in these times where fake news, alternative truths, trolls, and bad news are very rampant in society.

Grande explained the immense power that media has in the society and said that journalists have the capabilities of changing the mindset of the country’s citizens as well as being trailblazers for change and awareness.

“One good example of this is the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam or PDAF recently which actually started because the media has uncovered it. I am proud that we [media] were able to do that and also to have the senate draft and amend some of our country’s laws,” she said.

She however, reminded that journalists should not abuse this power to change and bring about awareness by selling their capability to expose or draft the truth.

“When I was only starting my career some would give me envelopes of money and gifts but I would refuse them or send them back. Honestly, I would get offended by those. As a journalist, if you try to establish the image of being the kind that cannot be bought like that, they would sooner get that you cannot be paid. The key is to always stick to what you think is right,” Grande explained.

“The gratitude that we, journalists, receive by being the deliverers of truth I think is enough. It doesn’t matter if we really do not get paid very much and have to take on multiple jobs just to afford the luxuries that we want. This practice is not something you can force on someone but it is a calling that comes to those who are willing to take on the responsibility,” she added.

This is the fifth time that Liceo de Cagayan University held the Marshall McLuhan Forum which is a forum series centering on responsible media practice. Every year, the university invites notable journalists in the country.

Local media practitioners, campus journalists, communication and journalism students and professors, as well as students of other fields such as International Studies and Political Science from various universities such as Xavier University, Liceo de Cagayan University, Phinma-Cagayan de Oro College, and Capitol University, participated in the forum.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship was established by the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto and the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines to recognize excellence in investigative journalism and aims to raise the bar on local journalism.
(Article source: )



“The essential guide to how media shape our lives. By the creator of the most talked about political ad in television history.”

The Responsive Chord outlines the way our ways of thinking and communicating have been shaped for centuries by written language and by the difficulty of transmitting information over long distances… and how those habits have been outmoded by instant communications such as television, radio and telephone. Schwartz explores in depth the failure of techniques in advertising and education that are based on the old methods and explains how we must understand the new media, as well as how best to make use of them, giving numerous examples.


  • Foreword by John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University. Carey worked for Tony Schwartz in the late 60s and early 70s, including the time when he wrote The Responsive Chord. He is intimately familiar with the book and with Tony Schwartz, so the foreword contains both analysis from a current-day perspective and a number of inside anecdotes (see excerpt below)
  • Updated design, several new illustrative figures.


  • Election 2016 and President Trump: We are constantly bombarded with media, and never more so than in an election year. The book focuses on how media work on us to drive our actions, with special emphasis given to political media. The book has been especially relevant this political season given Trump’s highly unconventional relationship with the media.
  • Fake News & Truthiness: So many people have been sent reeling by the extent to which truth itself has been damaged since the 2016 election—from the egregiously untrue statements made by candidates and government officials to the proliferation of “fake news.” The Responsive Chord gives us an alternate understanding of the media according to which our notions of truth and falsity are not even relevant. It shows how, even back when we had seemingly much higher, shared standards for truth (think Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley), the most effective processes of communication completely bypassed truth/falsehood… and the book explains how those processes continue to operate.
  • Election 2016 (Daisy ad): There have been regular mentions throughout the news media of the 1964 Daisy Ad, both because of the parallels between the 2016 election and the 1964 election, and because of the regular talk of creating a similar ad for use today. Schwartz was the creator of the Daisy ad (see below), and The Responsive Chord presents and discusses the ad (pp. 89-92).
  • “DAISY” Play. Tony Schwartz and his ideas are the subject of a play by Sean Devine that premiered at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in July-Aug, 2016, to nightly standing ovations. The play is about the creation of the “DAISY” ad (see ABOUT below). Discussions are underway for it to be staged in NY and Chicago, as well as several Canadian locations.


  • Tony Schwartz is equally famous, in different circles, for (1) his pioneering work recording music and documenting the audio life of New York City in the 1950s and 60s, (2) his advertising work, including the Daisy commercial and (3) his theories of media and communication.
  • Creator of the Daisy ad—the most talked about political ad in television history, despite having aired only once. He was hired as a consultant by the DDB agency and created the concept of the ad for them, based on an anti-nuclear ad he made for the U.N. in 1962.
  • Winner of multiple Academy Awards and Toni Awards. Four-time first place winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Created over a dozen commercial recordings, one of which was among the first 100 recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry.
  • Taught media studies at Harvard, Columbia, Fordham and New York University. Lectured around the world by telephone and satellite.
  • Created commercials for over four hundred corporations, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Chrysler and Kodak. Created the first anti-smoking commercial (1963, for the American Cancer Society.)
  • Produced television and radio commercials for the campaigns of two U.S. Presidents, as well as hundreds of U.S. candidates at all levels of government.
  • His collected works were acquired by the Library of Congress in 2007, just before his death. Transporting all the audio & video recordings & papers from NYC to DC required three trucks. See
  • Created and hosted a weekly radio show on WNYC for over 30 years (1945-1976)


“The Responsive Chord certainly gets a big response from me…. I enjoyed it enormously. This is a totally untouched field and Tony Schwartz has a monopoly in this area.” — Marshall McLuhan (1973)

“Tony Schwartz was a genius when it came to understanding the communications revolution of the 20th century. My interview with him was one of my favorites and one of the most important of my own long career in broadcast journalism.” – Bill Moyers

“I read The Responsive Chord as a freshman in college and it affected everything I’ve ever made since. Its message is practical and deep. I’d recommend it to anyone.” — Ira Glass, Creator & Host of NPR’s This American Life

“Tony Schwartz was not only an original theorist but a master persuader whose must-read book is brimming with indispensable insight about how humans construct meaning through media.” — Prof. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center ( is one of their many projects)

Obama Team. In the foreword, John Carey relates, “I was told by a senior member of the Obama campaigns for the presidency that The Responsive Chord was a must read for all senior members of their communications team.” Unfortunately, he has lost contact with the person. I have been working to corroborate that claim and get one of the Obama team on record.

See a more extensive list of quotes at


As a communication professor who teaches about new media and a researcher who has studied new media technologies for companies such as Google, Comcast NBC Universal and the New York Times, why do I rely so heavily on a book written decades ago? It’s because The Responsive Chord describes with great clarity how media affect our lives and gives us practical guidelines that are just as relevant today as when the book was first published.

The Responsive Chord analyzes how and why our modern media environment works on us and in us. For example, why do some video bloggers who talk about things of little importance to anyone attract millions of followers? Tony Schwartz explains, “People are more likely to choose programming on the basis of some personal function it serves, rather than for specific content. In many instances, it does not matter what a program is about.” (p. 51) As Sam Roberts of the New York Times writes, “Mr. Schwartz presciently anticipated camcorders and also cellphones, iPods and other [modern] electronic devices.” Insights from the book also help us understand current media phenomena such as viral media, social media, virtual reality, and mobile media.


John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University, was a student at Fordham in the late 60s, when Marshall McLuhan lectured there as the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities. He subsequently worked for Tony during a time that included the writing of The Responsive Chord. He went on to work in the media industry for many years, with clients including Google, American Express, AT&T, NBC Universal, The New York Times, Primedia, A&E Television Networks, Digitas, The Online Publishers Association, PBS, Cablevision, Rainbow Media, Scholastic and XM Satellite Radio. Carey has served on the advisory boards of the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, the Annenberg School for Communications and Fordham’s Donald McGannon Communication Research Center.

See also On Tony Schwartz on this blog: 

More About Tony Schwartz, Media Pioneer & Audio Documentarian (1923-2008): 


Tony Schwartz in his media lab, New York City, 1982


This book brings together a number of prominent scholars to explore a relatively under-studied area of Marshall McLuhan’s thought: his idea of formal cause and the role that formal cause plays in the emergence of new technologies and in structuring societal relations. Aiming to open a new way of understanding McLuhan’s thought in this area, and to provide methodological grounding for future media ecology research, the book runs the gamut, from contributions that directly support McLuhan’s arguments to those that see in them the germs of future developments in emergent dynamics and complexity theory.

Corey Anton is Professor of Communication Studies at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Robert K. Logan is Professor Emeritus in Physics at the University of Toronto and Chief Scientist at the sLab OCAD University. Lance Strate is Professor of Communication and mMdia Studies at Fordham University in New York.

“Very good essays on a crucial intellectual topic. I’m hopeful that this anthology will help kick off another McLuhan movement rooted in McLuhan’s place in the great tradition of philosophies of causation”.  – Graham Harman, American University in Cairo
Available Now   –   Price £70, US $100   –   Purchase this book   –   ISBN 9781783206940   –   Paperback 292 pages   –   Imprint: Intellect Books


The forthcoming publication of Remediating McLuhan by Richard Cavell was announced on this blog on October 3, 2016. See .

From Richard Cavell’s Introduction (pp. 9-12):

The McLuhan remediated in the following pages is the one who had become a cliché when Donald Theall wrote these words that presaged what eventually became a twenty-year decline in McLuhan’s reputation. Theall’s McLuhan was defined by the parameters of literary modernism, communications biases, hot and cool media and technological determinism. The publication of McLuhan’s Letters in 1987, and Philip Marchand’s biography in 1989, heralded a renaissance of interest in McLuhan that has continued unabated to the centennial conferences and confabulations of 2011 and beyond. While this current scholarly interest has assured McLuhan’s foundational status as media theorist—affirmed by Friedrich Kittler no less — it has by no means exhausted the import of his writings, in large part because his written body of work as a whole is rarely revisited, and because ‘media’ retains a largely communicational bias in much of what has been written about him.

An Overview of the Book’s Chapters

Section One – Re: Mediation

1.Beyond McLuhanism (pp. 19-26): The remediation of McLuhan—after a twenty year hiatus in which he was infrequently cited, often as ‘the infamous’—began in the wake of the publication of his Letters(1987) and Philip Marchand’s biography (1989). What these works suggested was that the ‘McLuhanism’ that had characterised critiques of the media theorist for the previous twenty years had failed to account for a thinker whose complexities extended beyond the remit of media triumphalism, utopian technologism, crypto-Catholic redemption, the ‘return’ to orality, naive globalism and, ultimately, techno-determinism. While these critiques reflected their moment, ‘McLuhanism’ also owed a great deal to McLuhan himself….

2.McLuhan and the Question of the Book (pp. 27-38): McLuhan’s reputation in the 1960s hinged to a considerable extent on his pronouncements about the book, which was considered the prime bulwark against the threat posed by television, and, more broadly, ‘the media’, a concept to which McLuhan was ineluctably connected. McLuhan’s comments about ‘the end of book culture’ (Counterblast[1969], p. 48) were thus not well-received, and he was excoriated by critics for his ‘assault’ on the book. Dame Rebecca West, in her 1967 presidential address to the English Institute in London, asserted that The Medium is the Massage was designed ‘to cheer illiterates on their way, and this…

Section Two – Embodiment as Incorporation

3. McLuhan and the Body as Medium (pp. 41-48): Contemporary media studies are said to be in crisis. The advent of the ‘new’ media has provoked the question of how the new media differ from the ‘old’, mass media. Some, such as Bernhard Siegert, have responded that there are no mass media.¹ Siegert’s argument is that what was massified in mediation were material objects, such as television sets, whereas mediation has more to do with transmission. Others, such as Eva Horn, push Siegert’s argument further, stating that ‘[t]here are no media’ (‘Introduction’, p. 1), and argue that a fixed concept of media has been superseded by the new media,…

4. McLuhan, Tactility, and the Digital (pp. 49-56): In 1967, Marshall McLuhan published one of the defining books of his career: The Medium is the Massage A classic example of remediation, this book not only played on one of McLuhan’s most famous utterances, ‘the medium is the message’, but also inverted the linear, sequential ‘rationality’ and causal determinism deriving from the book as medium. In The Medium is the Massage there are more illustrations than there is print, the book can be read in any order, and McLuhan de-authorises his own relationship to this book by producing it collaboratively. As a result, it can be argued that the…

5. Mechanical Brides and Vampire Squids (pp. 57-64): While there is much that divides Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) and Vilém Flusser (1920-1991), the confluence afforded by the prospect of discussing them together allows us to consider what I suggest is a central strand of connection, namely their tendency to understand media as embodied, which is to say, as having a relationship with bios.¹ This is a paradoxical dimension of their work, however, because the element of embodiment is configured according to a principle of alienation, such that the closer our relationship to media becomes, the further we get from the classic notion of the sovereign self. McLuhan had expressed…

Section Three – Empathic Media 

6. McLuhan: Motion: e-Motion Towards a Soft Ontology of Media (pp. 67-78): While media theorists would agree on few fundamentals intrinsic to their field of study—starting with the definition of ‘media’—they would no doubt concur that media have an epistemological dimension. Whether it be McLuhan’s notion of the media ‘environment’ (‘Educational Effects’, p. 402) or Kittler’s concept of a ‘discourse network’, it can be argued that the effects of media are cognate with the Foucauldian episteme: they ‘determine’² our situation because they function in a Heideggerian manner as the pre-condition of what we can know and say (die Sprache spricht, nicht der Mensch³) and they ‘are’ our situation (as Mitchell…

7. Re-Mediating the Medium (pp. 79-88): It is entirely appropriate to be considering Marshall McLuhan’s work at the Moderna Museet¹ in the context of the ‘post-medium condition’ since this museum has an intimate connection to one of McLuhan’s most provocative comments about the nature of art. Writing inThe Medium is the Massage(1967), McLuhan (with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel) superimposed his notion that ‘art is anything you can get away with’ over an image of Nikki de Saint Phalle’s monumental She: A Cathedral, photographed in its Moderna Museet installation of 1966. This 82 foot / 28 metre-long sculpture contained music rooms, a cinema and…

Section Four – Determining Technology

8. McLuhan, Turing, and the Question of Determinism (pp. 91-96): Marshall McLuhan arrived at Cambridge University in the fall of 1934. He enrolled at Trinity Hall (Marchand, Marshall McLuhan, p. 38) and remained there until the summer of 1936, when he received his Bachelor’s degree, having ‘set the foundations for almost all of his subsequent intellectual work’ (Marchand, p. 41). By extraordinary coincidence, Alan Turing, then a Fellow of King’s College, was at the same time ‘supplement[ing] his fellowship by supervising undergraduates in next-door Trinity Hall’ (Hodges, Alan Turing, p.5). Their paths quite possibly crossed, although John Polanyi, who knew them both, states that McLuhan, ‘sadly’, never spoke of Turing.²…

9. Angels and Robots (pp. 97-106): In the mid-1970s, Marshall McLuhan proposed to revisit his foundational text, Understanding Media, in order to address the generation that had experienced the transition from visual space to acoustic space—from the space produced by print media to the space produced by electronic media. Whereas visual space was abstracting, monological and eye-bound, argued McLuhan, acoustic space was involving, dialogical and multi-sensual. What, asked McLuhan, were the implications of this massive shift? The question is no less pertinent now that the move into the electronic regime has advanced so considerably, with the spatial element having become crucial to an understanding of…

Section Five – Being Mediated

10. Marshall McLuhan’s Echo-Criticism (pp. 109-114): ‘Environment’ was the term employed by McLuhan in his elaboration of the way in which media attained epistemic status, becoming, in effect, the frame of reference for a given historical period. Although environmental groups such as Greenpeace (Dale, McLuhan’s Children) take McLuhan as their progenitor, insofar as he provided them with a paradigm for the mediatics of environmentalism, McLuhan’s ‘environment’ differed radically from theirs in that he rejected their notion of ‘nature’.¹ Media had become the new environment in his argument, and media would be the only way out, through the creation of anti-environments. The gestalt dynamic of environment and…

11. McLuhan and the Technology of Being (pp. 115-124): As the terms ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’ suggest, we are increasingly experiencing our being via technologies of mediation; if Facebook implies an extension of corporeality, YouTube more complicatedly points towards an extension of our conscious self. Brian Rotman has expressed this phenomenon as a process of ‘becoming beside ourselves’, which suggests the displacement of fixed notions of being by processual notions of becoming, and the way in which these processes are taking us beyond defined notions of selfhood—from the self to the ‘selfie’. McLuhan’s media theory pertains directly to this increasingly relational sense of being emerging from the mediascape through…

12. The Tragedy of Media: Nietzsche, McLuhan, Kittler (pp. 127-148): Friedrich Kittler asserts provocatively in Gramophone Film Typewriter that Nietzsche heralds media philosophy in his statement “[o]ur writing tools are also working on our thoughts” (quoted p. 200). This reference to Nietzsche opens a significant historical and critical avenue onto media philosophy as practiced not only by Kittler but also by McLuhan, despite the fact that McLuhan’s media philosophy emerged from a rhetorical tradition that was only partly related to the philosophical tradition in which Kittler saw himself to be the mediatic heir of Nietzsche.² Yet this philosophical tradition is key to the emergence of media philosophy as a discourse…

Coda: On the 50th Anniversary of Understanding Media (pp. 149-152): The 26 chapters that comprise the second half of Understanding Media proclaim for media a cultural impact equal to that of the alphabet, while suggesting that to understand the alphabet as a medium asserts a claim to a new philosophical paradigm—amedia philosophy. The seven opening chapters of the book propose media as the trivium and quadrivium of a post-humanistic epistemology.¹ Behind the alphabetic quotient hovers the digital as a universal mode of translation. And the subtitle places mediation in complex relationship to the bios.

Published by: Amsterdam University Press   –   ISBN: 9789089649508   –   Release date: 15-10-2016   –   Edition: Hardback   –   Pages: 202   –   Series: Recursions   (Source: )

See for Richard Cavell’s biography.

richard-cavell Richard Cavell

This year’s transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture was delivered by Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto, who focuses on the intersectional politics of time, class, gender, and race in her research. For the lecture, Sharma spoke under the title “Exit and the Extensions of Man”, which extends from her ongoing research on the male fantasy of exit as it manifests itself in a set of seemingly disparate sites: nationalist movements, robots designed to provide loving care, and the leftist refusal of work paradigm. While taking stock of this masculinist penchant for exit and paying particular attention to the «message» and extensions of our new machines, Sharma considered whether a door has opened for a feminist exit movement. In her talk, Sharma wondered who will pick up the pieces when the robots leave and there is nowhere left to go?

A video of her lecture will be posted here when it becomes available online. These photographs have been made available by transmediale in Berlin and additional photos can be viewed at .

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017: Exit & the Extensions of Man

(Click on photos for an expanded view.)


The Audience


Kristoffer Gansing introducing the Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017


Dr. Sarah Sharma presenting the lecture: “Exit and the Extensions of Man”



Baruch Gottlieb (left) in conversation with Dr. Sarah Sharma (right)


Read about Dr. Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto here .