It is great to see Marshall McLuhan’s influence continuing to spread outward from the English-speaking world to other countries where books by and about him are being published in their local languages. On September 17 I announced two new books about McLuhan having been published in Poland, following on my announcement of the first Polish translation of The Gutenberg Galaxy on August 17. Now we can add Brazil to the list.

McLuhan and Cinema

was published in the spring in a dual language edition, Portuguese on one side, English on the other, by Wilson Oliveira Filho.

With a preface written by Eric McLuhan and Andrew McLuhan, Wilson Oliveira Filho
UNESA’s professor, researcher and coordinator of Audiovisual Production undergraduate course launched at MEA (Media Ecology Association) 18th annual convention the bilingual book “McLuhan e o cinema “/” McLuhan and cinema” by the Brazilian publish house Verve. In Brazil, the book was launched at Oi Futuro art Gallery in Rio de Janeiro with a video homage to McLuhan and his galaxy of thoughts. The book covers from McLuhan’s performance on Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”, references to Cronenberg’s characters to live audiovisual performances ( live cinema and Vjing art), and web audiovisual phenomena like YouTube. The book tries to draft McLuhan as a cinema theorist and how the media thinker helped us to understand films beyond the message, the moving medium beyond narratives and the image of McLuhan as a media-film-ecologist. Wilson is also a musician and a multimedia artist. With his partner, Márcia Bessa created in 2012 the DUO2x4 developing several artworks in Brazil.

The following is an excerpt from the Preface to the book written by Eric and Andrew McLuhan:
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Marshall McLuhan, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964) appeared over half a century ago, and movies and cinema have been transformed many times in that period. This book is an attempt to comment on some of these transformations, building on the original observations by
Marshall McLuhan.

Let’s take stock of some of those changes. Within a decade of the appearance of Understanding Media, it was obvious that movies on television had quite a different effect from movies in the theatre. It was discovered that the difference was in no way related to the size of the screen. The movie on television had the effect of television – not that of film. The effect, in other words, was not produced by the content, but by the way in which the new medium acted directly on the sensibilities of the audience; and so
movies made from novels did not have the effect of the novel, any more than movies on television had the effect of movies.

One of the classic examples of the film effect familiar to everyone is the roller-coaster ride: as the camera in the front car ascends the first and steepest hill, suspense builds. Then it reaches the climax and begins its downward acceleration, and every member of the audience feels the result in the pit of the stomach. Some people even become nauseous. The same scene, shown on television, has no such dramatic effect whatever. Experiments with side-by-side presentations of this scene on large television screens and film images of exactly the same proportions have demonstrated that screen size is not a factor…                                                                                                                                                                                                            **********

Table of Contents

Preface 9

Introductory Note – Don’t explain; explore and… be grateful 13

introduction Presenting an image of McLuhan 15

1. The gliding camera as an extension of man: McLuhan extending Vertov 37

2. “Tommy, can you hear me?”: memory, sensoriality, and the extensions 52

3. McLuhanian characters and objects in David Cronenberg 71

4. “Boy, if life were only like this!”: the screen is the message 89

5. Documentary beyond the rear-view mirror: on McLuhan’s Wake 109

6. Networked-memory: YouTube, a McLuhanian archive beyond images and things 121

7. McLuhan-Performer: extending/understanding live cinema 136

Conclusion Cinema as McLuhan’s extension 157

References 164


On the day before the McLuhan in New York Symposium at Fordham University (see ), scheduled 50 years after Marshall McLuhan’s arrival in New York City to spend the 1967-68 academic year at Fordham as the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities, I will be publishing his recorded lectures from that time. This first one is his inaugural lecture on The Technological Unconscious on September 18, 1967. The introduction is made by Father John Culkin SJ and Harley Parker of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto and Edmund (Ted) Carpenter, who accompanied McLuhan from Toronto, also speak. To commemorate that year, I will be also posting other of McLuhan’s recorded lectures from that year over the coming weeks. Stay tuned…

Marshall McLuhan touches on many concepts during his talk. During the 1967-1968 academic year, McLuhan, the Albert Schweitzer Chair in Humanities, oversaw an alternative curriculum of lectures, film showings and independent study assignments for students. Within two months of his appointment in 1967, he is hospitalized and underwent the longest brain surgery the world has known until that date (2 1/2hours and removal of benign brain tumor.

McLuhan’s appointment came about through communications professor John Culkin, S.J., a longtime colleague of McLuhan’s and himself a media expert. John Culkin (b. 1928), who was a Jesuit priest until 1969, first met McLuhan at a seminar Brandeis University in 1963, while he was working on his doctorate at Harvard, where one of his projects was to write a clear explication of McLuhan’s ideas. (He found this difficult until he was directed to McLuhan’s fourteen-chapter Report on Project in Understanding New Media (1960): see page 255-6).

In 1965 Culkin was appointed Director of the Centre for Communication at Fordham University and was instrumental in arranging for McLuhan’s appointment to the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at Fordham in 1967-8. Culkin later founded in New York City the Centre for Understanding Media, and a graduate-school program in media studies at the New School for Social Research, both of which are explicitly based on McLuhan’s work. He is acclaimed to have invented the field of Media Literacy [and was also an important influence on the field of Media Studies known as Media Ecology). Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,100 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools.
(Source: YouTube

Fordham University, Keating Hall, Bronx, NYC

Senses of Time, Space and Place


Since 1950, when Canadian economic historian Harold Innis grounded his communication history theory in the ebb and flow of time-biased and space-biased media from ancient to modern civilizations, time and space have been a key concept in what later became media ecology in the 1970s. Marshall McLuhan applied the time/space concept to perception to understand the temporal characteristics of oral culture; the spatial nature of visual scribal and typographic culture, and the elimination of time and space in electronic media culture. Walter Ong featured time and space as central to the modes of consciousness in orality and literacy. Neil Postman attributed the decline in rational print culture discourse to the shortening attention span of television culture. For James Carey, too, time and space were critical elements of the equation of communication and culture. Joshua Meyrowitz explored the shifting sense of place in media cultures. And theorists from Jean Baudrillard to Paul Virilio contemplated postmodern and posthuman senses of time, space and place.

With this as context, we invite paper and panel proposals that address one or more of the three core themes. Although we encourage submissions that touch upon, or align with, the convention theme, papers, abstracts, and panel proposal submissions from all areas of Media Ecology are welcome. A maximum of two submissions per author will be accepted. Authors who wish their papers to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submission(s). The top papers will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology. All submissions will be acknowledged. The language of the convention is English.

Please note that paper and panel proposals do not need to be related to the overall conference theme.

Please submit all papers, and paper and panel proposals to the submission page for MEA 2018, at

. Please send questions only to the convention coordinator, Paul Grosswiler, at <>

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 1, 2017.

Guidelines for Submission

For manuscripts eligible for MEA award submissions:

1.     Manuscripts should be 4,000-6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages)

2.     Include a cover page (or e-submission page) with your academic or professional
affiliation and other contact information.

3.     Include a 150 words abstract, with the title. Use APA, MLA or Chicago style.

4.     Papers should be written in English.

For Paper and Panel Proposals:

1.     Include title, 250 words abstract, and contact information with your

2.     Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention theme

3.     Presenters should be prepared to deliver their papers in English.

4.     Authors with papers submitted as part of a panel proposal or as a paper proposal that wish to be considered for Top Paper or Top Student Paper must send completed paper to the convention planner by April 1, 2018.

MEA 2018 Featured Speakers

Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity

Renee Hobbs  –  Communication Studies Professor Renee Hobbs is an internationally recognized authority on digital and media literacy education. Through community and global service and as a researcher, teacher, advocate and media professional, Dr. Hobbs has worked to advance the quality of digital and media literacy education in the United States and around the world. She is founder and director of the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, whose mission is to improve the quality of media literacy education through research and community service.

Walter J. Ong Award for Career Achievement in Scholarship

Susan J. Drucker  –  is professor and coordinator of the media studies program in the Department of Journalism/ Mass Media Studies at Hofstra University. She is an attorney and teaches courses in media law and media ethics. She is the author and editor of eight books and over 100 articles and book chapters, including American Heroes in a Media Age (1994) (with Robert Cathcart) and Global Media Heroes (2008) (with Gary Gumpert); Huddled Masses: Immigration and Communication (1998); Voices in the Street: Gender, Media and Public Space (1997), Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Communicating Baseball (2002), and two editions of Real Law @ Virtual Space: The Regulation of Cyberspace (1999, 2005) and Urban Communication Reader (2008) (with Gene Burd). Her next book is Convergence Regulation.

(Click on image for expanded view)

The 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67, as it was commonly known, was a general exhibition, Category One World’s Fair held in MontrealQuebec, Canada, from April 27 to October 29, 1967. It is considered to be the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century with the most attendees to that date and 62 nations participating. It also set the single-day attendance record for a world’s fair, with 569,500 visitors on its third day. (Wikipedia)

One-day Symposium at Museumnacht, The Hague

‘Man and his World’ with Baruch Gottlieb, Shailoh Phillips & others

In the middle of the cold war, there were signs of a thaw. Electronic media and the first digital computers were bursting into public consciousness conjuring visions of unlimited technological possibilities. Perhaps the most prominent public thinker on the social and cultural transformations at hand, Marshall McLuhan was invited to consult on a prototype of a future techno-utopia. This project, unprecedented in its scope, and radical in its Humanist spirit of inclusiveness, was perhaps that last great gesture of unadulterated hope in a better world through the advancement of science and technology, of medium and its message, it was ‘Man and His World’ EXPO 67.

The international symposium series which accompanies the recursive touring exhibition ‘Feedback: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts’ brings together specialists and generalists, artists, philosophers and critics to discuss the insights of Marshall McLuhan and the Toronto School and examine the pertinence for understanding our conditions today.

Our discussion, recalling the name of that great celebration of human reason and a hope for a peaceful and prosperous world ‘Man and his World’, will re-examine and recontextualize the techno-social aspirations of the late 60s, in the current conditions of the anthropocene where hopeful notions technological and scientific progress are facing intractable challenges. What has happened to our relationship to technology? What promises have been fulfilled, which proved to be unrealisable, and what hopeful scenarios for the present of ubiquitous networked light-speed computation can we imagine today?

The presentations will be in English and suitable for artists, students, art and culture enthusiasts and anyone with a wide interest.


12:00 — 13:00 Doors open:

Exhibition Feedback #1: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts

13:00 — 13:05 Marie-José Sondeijker — introduction

13:05 — 13:45 Dr. phil. Baruch Gottlieb

Lecture: ‘Man and his World in the Anthropocene’

13:45 — 14:30 Coffee Break

14:30 — 15:00 Guided tour through the exhibition

15:00 — 16:30 Dr. phil. Baruch Gottlieb & Shailoh Phillips

Workshop: ‘McLuhan’s Ecology: the planet as a work of art’

16:30 — 17:30 Public Discussion:

‘The environment of pervasive media’

17:30 — 18:00 uur Round up & Drinks

Baruch Gottlieb is trained as a filmmaker at Concordia University, has been working in digital art with specialization in public art since 1999. He is active member of the ‘Telekommunisten’, ‘Arts & Economic Group’ and ‘Laboratoire Déberlinisation artist collectives’. He currently lectures in digital aesthetics at the University of Arts Berlin and is fellow of the Vilém Flusser Archiv. Curator of ‘Feedback #1: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts’, he writes extensively on digital aesthetics, digital archiving, generative and interactive processes, digital media for public space and on social and political aspects of networked media.

Shailoh Phillips is a media artist, researcher and mediator. After initial training in cultural anthropology, philosophy and cultural analysis, Shailoh shifted her practice into the interstices between technology, arts and design education. For 10 years, she has been working on building interactive installations, workshops and games with organizations such as MIT Media Lab, Rijksmuseum, VPRO, Bouwkeet and Open Set. In 2017, she graduated (cum laude) from Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, with an MA in Education in Arts and Design. She specializes in playful exercises in collective critical thinking, decolonizing institutions, and training digital literacy skills. (Source: )

 The American Pavilion of Expo 67 designed  by R. Buckminster Fuller

McLuhan Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism Awarded to Manny Mogato, Philippine correspondent for Reuters (Right)

By Margaret Claire Latug, GMA News  –  September 28, 2017

The Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility on Thursday presented a prestigious fellowship to Manila-based reporter Manuel Mogato, who has chronicled some of the most explosive events under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration for international news agency Reuters.

Mogato received the plaque for the 2017 Marshall McLuhan Fellow at an awards ceremony held at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City.

A year ago, Mogato and co-correspondent Karen Lema ran a story on Duterte likening himself to Adolf Hitler and saying he would “be happy” to deal with the Philippines’ criminals just as the latter did to millions of Jews.

The President’s remark drew international criticism from world leaders, Jewish groups and the United Nations.

A few months later, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) raised concern for Mogato’s safety after hackers were able to deface his Facebook page, which NUJP chair Ryan Rosauro said could lead to physical harm to Mogato.

This August, Mogato, together with fellow Reuters reporter Claire Baldwin, came out with a special report using detailed insider accounts of two senior Philippine National Police (PNP) officials who claimed that most of the killings of criminals under the Duterte’s administration were “state-sponsored.”

The interviews exposed police officers supposedly receiving payoffs for every drug suspect and other “troublemakers” killed.

The Reuters report also found tracks leading to the existence of a so-called Davao Death Squad which was said to “augment and assist” these killings.

Established in 1997 by the University of Toronto and the Canadian Embassy in Manila in honor of the Canadian philosopher, author and media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the fellowship is awarded to a journalist “embodying outstanding qualities in the field of investigative journalism.”

As this year’s recipient, Mogato is set for a two-week lecture tour of Canadian media and academic organizations and, later, a number of Philippine universities.

Previous McLuhan Fellows include Probe Team’s  Cheche Lazaro, VERA Files’ Yvonne Chua, TV’5 Ed Lingao, and MindaNews’ Carolyn Arguillas.

Former Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Raffy Lerma also bagged the Award of Distinction for 2017.

Both journalists join the ranks of the Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Fellows, a community of journalists and media practitioners poised to take part in programs of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, the CMFR said.

Apart from Mogato and Lerma, two other panelists for this year’s JVOJS were Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Aie Balagtas See of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, both formerly of GMA News Online. — BM/MDM, GMA News (Source: )

Reuters’ Manuel Mogato (third from left) receives a plaque as 2017 Marshall McLuhan Fellow on September 28, 2017

McLuhan Salon #2: Flashing Lights

We are pleased to partner with Bad New Days and Ahuri Theatre for our second McLuhan Salon this fall to take place Sunday, October 15 at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St W) at 2:00 PM.

First, we are treated to an innovative play Flashing Lights where Marshall McLuhan makes cameo appearances, and then to a McLuhan Salon discussion lead by a stimulating panel, including Flashing Lights director Adam Paolozza, author Guillermo Verdecchia, actor Dan Watson.

Created by award-winning Bad New Days (The Double) and Ahuri Theatre (This is the Point), “Flashing Lights: A High Tech  Fable About our Digital Lives  “is an original play exploring how digital technology is radically shaping human evolution. It tells the tale of an unremarkable guy who inexplicably becomes famous. His dizzying rise and fall effects everyone around him, in particular, his family; his savvy wife and their child”.

The play weaves a hyper-realistic, absurd narrative, with the use of everyday technology like smartphones and tablets, into an atmospheric theatrical style that responds to our anxiety about the future and the speed of technological advancements. Drawing on the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, Sherry Turkle, Jean Baudrillard and other theorists, Flashing Lights speaks to the growing anxiety about the future and to the vertiginous feeling that time itself is speeding up. Will humankind’s frail, flesh, and blood selves be able to keep up?

This new play has been created collaboratively by award-winning theatre artists Adam Paolozza (Dora Award Spent & The Double), Guillermo Verdecchia (Governor General’s and Chalmers Award Winner), Ken MacKenzie (Kim’s Convenience, Brantwood), Dan Watson (This is the Point, What Dream it Was), Liz Peterson (Performance About A Woman, Capitalist Love Duets) and Miranda Calderon (Butcher, Taking Care of Baby).

Co-Produced by Bad New Days & Ahuri Theatre
The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. West
Sunday, October 15, 2:00 PM: SHOW + McLUHAN SALON
Tickets Pay What You Can Afford $5 | $20 | $45 | $60
Book 416-538-0988 | 

 * * * * * * * * * *

The McLuhan Salons

are curated by Paolo Granta and David Nostbakken, and sponsored by the St. Michael’s College – the McLuhan’s intellectual home in the University of Toronto – and its popular Book & Media Studies program, in conjunction with the Estate of Marshall McLuhan and several high-level academic and cultural institutions. The series is generously supported by the William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

Register Now

“Since Sputnik put the globe in a ‘proscenium arch,’ and the global village has been transformed into a global theater, the result, quite literally, is the use of public space for ‘doing one’s thing'”. – Marshall McLuhan From Cliché to Archetype, 1970

Professor Fred T. Flahiff (1933 – 2017)

“What a world, what a world,” was Fred’s refrain, sounding something like a honeyed mantra: What sweet sounds he takes with him.

He was Professor Flahiff to me when we met during my first year of PhD studies at the University of Toronto when he was acting chair of the English Department, and my “Jane Austen and the Brontes” instructor.

He would become Fred the night his friend, and mine, Professor Leslie Sanders and I burst in on him – surprising the dearly modest man in his pyjamas and robe, and he would remain close to my heart for almost 30 years, and still.

Fred meant a great deal, if not the world, to so many of his students. At the beginning of each year, and this is unheard of, he held a personal meeting with everyone. He was an exceptionally dedicated professor.

While considering the somewhat Eliotic Dr. F.T. Flahiff, it occurs to me that a great professor does not teach you information, but how to think – about the information at hand; about everything.

Fred called his students “Miss” and “Mister”; He never taught without a suit and tie. He was nonplussed by students who wore hats indoors; he had a large laugh and a love of the absurd.

When asked how to write an exam, he said, “Astonish me.”

“I feel like a little bird sometimes,” he told me, of lecturing, “singing on a branch.” When I became a professor, I understood him: how much of what we say is just ambient noise; how much, in his case, was as clear and lovely as, to cite Shelley’s praise of the skylark, “a star of Heaven.”

There is much to say about Fred: about his crush on the city of Rome and the actress Angela Lansbury, his piety, and vast, protean mind; about his collection of signed movie-star glossies, including, which amused him to no end, Claudette Colbert in The Egg and I; about his cherished Jack Shadbolt illustration of novelist Sheila Watson.

His cooking was terrible and endearing (macaroni with onion quarters and corn) and he had an acute love of cinema – a few years ago, he gave a Trampoline Hall lecture about his strange and persuasive respect for The Godfather: Part III.

He loved opera, Stanley Kubrick, writer Sheila Watson, his niece Theresa and near-son, Matthew Bronson, who lived in the flat below him.

Fred grew up in Vancouver, with his adored parents and two brothers – the rough, broad-voweled accent of this city popped up occasionally in his lofty, lovely voice.

He moved to Toronto in the 1950s, where he completed his graduate work at, and was hired by, the University of Toronto.

He never married; he had no children, except the hundreds and hundreds of students who moved in and out of his life; who loved him, truly. The bookshelf in his dining room-slash-office was covered with tacked-up photographs of former students’ children, often sitting with a beaming Fred.

Fred’s thesis, its defence presided over by a harried Marshall McLuhan, having rushed back from shooting Annie Hall, had to do with place. Place, as he perceived it in Shakespeare and Milton, those great writers of artistic blueprints, wherein one’s location and identity is fixed and central in the former, and moveable, fluid in the latter: “All places thou.”

I learned about Austen and Brontë this way, and I learned about humanity, through the notion of who we are and what we value; and through other of his piercing insights – “The world will come to you,” he assured me, in my youth, and it did.

He radiated that life is strange and beautiful: One would leave his small, gorgeous orbit, feeling invested in the possible.

Lynn Crosbie is one of Professor Flahiff’s former students. (Source:

Sheila & Wilfred Watson with Marshall McLuhan

F.T. Flahiff first met the renowned Canadian author Sheila Watson when they were both graduate students in Marshall McLuhan’s graduate seminar at the University of Toronto. The two formed a connection that, 40 years later, compelled Watson to entrust her biography to FlahiffAlways Someone to Kill the Doves: A Life of Sheila Watson was released in 2005. (Source: )

By Richard Metzger

Although John Lennon and Yoko Ono were undoubtedly two of the very most famous and talked about people of 1969, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan was no slouch in the worldwide fame department himself. And so it was an inspired pairing indeed, organized by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, when the peace-promoting Beatle and his avant-garde artist wife met up with the celebrated intellectual and author of The Medium is the Massage and Understanding Media on December 19th.

Lennon and Ono were in snowy Toronto doing press to bring attention to their “War is Over” billboard and poster campaign. Huge posters and billboards had been posted in twelve countries proclaiming “War is over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.” The campaign was launched in the major cities of New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Helsinki. There were over 30 roadside billboards put up in Toronto alone and a large billboard hung next to the US Armed Forces recruitment office located on New York’s Times Square.

McLUHAN: “Can you tell me? I just sort of wonder how the ‘War Is Over,’ the wording… The whole thinking. What happened?”

JOHN: “I think the basic idea of the poster event was Yoko’s. She used to do things like that in the avant-garde circle, you know. Poster was a sort of medium, media, whatever.”

 YOKO: “Medium.”

JOHN: “And then we had one idea for Christmas, which was a bit too vast, you know.”

YOKO: “We wanted to do it.”

JOHN: “We wanted to do it, but we couldn’t get it together in time.”

YOKO: “Maybe next year.”

JOHN: “And to do something specifically at Christmas. And then it got down to, well, if we can’t-do that event…”

YOKO: “We did this.”

JOHN: “…what we’ll do is a poster event. And then how do you get posters stuck all around the world, you know. It’s easier said than done. So we just started ringing up and find it out. And at first, we’re gonna have… We had some other wording, didn’t we, like, ‘Peace Declared.’ And it started up, there’s a place in New York, where you can have your own newspaper headline, you know. There’s a little shop somewhere in Times Square. And we were wondering how to, sort of like, get it in the newspapers as if it had happened, you know. And it developed from that. Well, we couldn’t get the front page of each newspaper to say war was over, peace declared or whatever.”

McLuhan’s full interview of John Lennon can be found on this blog here:

The following Tuesday reporters in Ottawa were astonished to find out that the Lennons had met, in private with then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of the country’s current PM Justin Trudeau. Confronted afterward by a crush of reporters, microphones and TV cameras, Lennon was asked: “Did you find him to be a beautiful person?”

“I think he is,” the Beatle replied:

“If there were more leaders like Mr. Trudeau, the world would have peace.”

High praise indeed coming from John Lennon. He later told friends that Prime Minister Trudeau had said how important it was for him to understand what young people wanted and that he’d hoped to meet up with them again in more casual circumstances. After meeting with Trudeau, the Lennons had an appointment with Canada’s Health Minister about softening the penalties for cannabis possession.

Whereas the Trudeau meeting was off-limits to the media save for one photographer, John and Yoko’s fascinating discussion with Marshall McLuhan was captured on film for posterity.


(Click on image for larger view)

From Fall 1967 to Spring 1968, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan spent one academic year in New York City as the Albert Schweitzer Chair of the Humanities at Fordham University, invited by John Culkin S.J., Chair of the Department of Communications at Fordham. McLuhan in New York took the city by storm. The vibrant New York intellectual and artistic vortex provided the right kind of environment to germinate McLuhan’s provocative and unconventional ideas, to capture the city’s imagination. McLuhan’s impact at Fordham was also instrumental in drawing worldwide attention to the idea that technological engagement plays a fundamental role in the structuring of human perception.

On Friday, October 13th, 2017, Fordham University, at its Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan, will host a public event with Eric McLuhan, Paul Levinson, and John Carey, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of McLuhan’s intellectual presence in New York City. The initiative’s goal is not only to pay homage to McLuhan and his intellectual legacy, but also to probe how McLuhan’s work is still pertinent to the general understanding of our media environment today. Teri McLuhan will be a special guest. Eric McLuhan will also present his latest book The Lost Tetrads of Marshall McLuhan (2017).

The “McLuhan in New York” event is presented by the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York and the Book & Media Studies Program at the St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Estate of Marshall McLuhan.

With: Eric McLuhan, The Lost Tetrads – Independent scholar

Paul Levinson, The Omnipotent Ear – Fordham University

John Carey, The Responsive Chord – Fordham University (Clarification Addendum: Tony Schwartz is the author of The Responsive Chord; John Carey will be speaking about the book on this occasion because he wrote the Forward to the 2nd edition of the book published earlier this year. See )

Welcoming words: Jacqueline Reich, Fordham University, Paolo Granata, University of Toronto
Greetings: Teri McLuhan

Tony Schwartz, Marshall McLuhan, and John Culkin at Tony Schwartz’s famous basement studio on W 56th Street in New York, 1967

(Click on image for larger view)

Eric McLuhan, PhD, is an internationally-known and award-winning lecturer on communication and media, Dr. McLuhan has over 40 years’ teaching experience in subjects ranging from high-speed reading techniques to literature, communication theory, media, culture, and Egyptology. He has taught at many colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. In addition to co-authoring “Laws of Media” in 1988 and working closely for many years with his father, the late Marshall McLuhan, he has also been deeply involved in exploring media ecology and communications.

Paul Levinson, PhD, is Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. His nonfiction books, including The Soft EdgeDigital McLuhanRealspaceCellphone, New New Media, McLuhan in Age of Social Media, and Fake News in Real Context have been translated into 12 languages. His science fiction novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction Novel of 1999), Borrowed TidesThe Consciousness PlagueThe Pixel EyeThe Plot To Save SocratesUnburning Alexandria, and Chronica. He appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, and NPR.  His 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was reissued in 2010.  He was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Top Ten Academic Twitterers” in 2009.

John Carey brings 25 years of experience in media-industry research and product development to his teaching at the Gabelli School of Business. His clients have included 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, among others. Professor 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. He was a commissioner on the Annenberg Commission on the Press and Democracy, has been an invited lecturer in more than a dozen countries and has presented his research to the boards of major media companies in the United States. Before coming to Fordham, he taught at Columbia Business School and at New York University.

Fordham University School of Law, 150 W. 62nd St. New York, Room 7-119

John M. Culkin SJ, PhD (1928-1993), leading media scholar, critic, educator, writer & consultant.

This is an important essay that was published in the Saturday Review, March 18, 1967, that helped introduce Marshall McLuhan and his ideas to a wider North American audience and especially educators. It introduced the quotation “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us” that for a long time was widely attributed to McLuhan while it was actually written by John Culkin based on an idea that probably originated from McLuhan. Here are the first two paragraphs and part the third paragraph of the essay:

By JOHN M. CULKIN, S.J., director of the Center for Communications, Fordham University

EDUCATION, a seven-year-old assures me, is “how kids learn stuff.” Few definitions are as satisfying. It includes all that is essential—a who, a what, and a process. It excludes all the people, places, and things which are only sometimes involved in learning. The economy and accuracy of the definition, however, are more useful in locating the problem than in solving it. We know little enough about kids, less about learning, and considerably more than we would like to know about stuff. 

In addition, the whole process of formal schooling is now wrapped inside an environment of speeded-up technological change which is constantly influencing kids and learning and stuff. The jet-speed of this technological revolution, especially in the area of communications, has left us with more reactions to it than reflections about it. Meanwhile back at the school, the student, whose psyche is being programed [sic] for tempo, information, and relevance by his electronic environment, is still being processed in classrooms operating on the postulates of another day. The cold war existing between these two worlds is upsetting for both the student and the schools. One thing is certain: It is hardly a time for educators to plan with nostalgia, timidity, or old formulas.
Enter Marshall McLuhan. 

He enters from the North, from the University of Toronto where he teaches English and is director of the Center for Culture and Technology. He enters with the reputation as “the oracle of the electric age” and as “the most provocative and controversial writer of this generation.” More importantly for the schools, he enters as a man with fresh eyes, with new ways of looking at old problems. He is a man who gets his ideas first and judges them later. Most of these ideas are summed up in his book, Understanding Media

Please read the rest of this article, and in fact you can download a pdf of the first 3 pages of the article, from here: 


However, to download the section of the Saturday Review that contains pages 70 to 72 that complete the Culkin article, download the pdf that contains those pages from here:

Culkin’s “tools shape us” quote is near the beginning of the continuation of the article on page 70:
3) Life imitates art. We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us. These extensions of our senses begin to interact with our senses. These media become a massage. The new change in the environment creates a new balance among the senses. No sense operates in isolation. The full sensorium seeks fulfillment in almost every sense experience. And since there is a limited quantum of energy available for any sensory experience, the sense-ratio will differ for different media…

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936) – “We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us”.

See also on this blog “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us” at