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A Presentation by the Marshall McLuhan Award Winner for Investigative Journalism (2016) on December 1

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:43pm


Join us Thursday DEC 1st, 2016, 6:00 PM (at the McLuhan Centre)

The Marshall McLuhan Award for Investigative Journalism

With Gigi Grande, news editor and presenter of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation (recipient 2016).
Moderator: Bob Logan

A journalist for almost twenty years now, Ms. Grande is currently a correspondent for ABS-CBN’s Investigative Research group, responsible for producing in-depth news reports for the network’s various news platforms. She is also the anchor of The World Tonight Saturday and News Now on the ABS-CBN News Channel. 

She won the McLuhan Fellowship for her excellent reportage of the issues surrounding the Philippine national elections early this year. As an editor, she is also tasked to mentor and edit stories of reporters who contribute investigative reports. She had also managed a team of reporters covering the various political and Cabinet beats. She graduated with a degree in Tourism from the University of the Philippines.

For her presentation, she has chosen the topic: “Journalism in Challenging Times: Media as guardians of democracy and watchdog of society.” For decades, the Philippine media has been called the freest in Asia, carving its place as the guardians of democracy and the watchdog of society. But are times changing? Gigi Grande talks about journalism under the new political leadership.

Register Now The event is free and open to the public. Please be reminded that space is limited and your registration is a commitment to attend the event.

Read more about Gigi Grande of ABS-CBN is the 2016 Marshall McLuhan Fellow, Philippines

Categories: Blog

When Tools Shape You

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 10:53pm
November 23, 2016 –  By

The weaponized form of McLuhan’s famous phrase the medium is the message is the phrase, first we shape our tools, then our tools shape us (due to to McLuhan’s friend John Culkin). I have come to prefer this form of the idea, and my favorite motif for it is Doc Ock, the Marvel super-villain.


Doc Ock’s artificially intelligent arms fuse to his brain stem in a reactor accident. In the movie version, the intelligence in the arms alters his behavior by making lower-level brain functions, such as emotional self-regulation, more powerful and volatile. The character backstory suggests a personality — a blue-collar nerd bullied as a schoolkid — that was already primed for destabilization by the usual sort of super-villain narcissistic wound. The accident alters the balance of power between his higher-level brain functions, and the hardware-extended lower-level brain functions. In the Doc Ock story, first we shape our tools, then our tools shape us captures the adversarial coupling between medium and message-sender.

The weaker form of McLuhan’s idea suggests that media select messages rather than the other way around: paper selects for formal communication, email selects for informal communication, 4chan selects for trolling. The stronger form suggests that when there is a conflict between medium and message, the medium wins. A formal communication intent naturally acquires informal overtones if it ends up as an email, memetic overtones if it ends up as a 4chan message.

Culkin’s form is the strongest. It suggests that the medium reshapes the principal crafting the message. The Doc Ock motif suggests why. There is no such thing as a dumb agent. All media have at least weak, latent, distributed intelligence. Intelligence that can accumulate power, exhibit agency, and contend for control.

The most familiar example of this effect is in organizational behavior, captured in an extension to Alfred Chandler’s famous observation that structure follows strategy. That becomes first structure follows strategy, then strategy follows structure. The explicit form is Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy: in a mature organization, agent goals trump principal goals.

A subtler, less familiar example is the philosophical idea that in any master-slave relationship, the slave can self-actualize through labor. In practice, this happens only when the slave has some freedom above absolute wretchedness, with sufficient cognitive surplus to turn learning from labor into political leverage.

In all such examples, the mechanism is the same. A seemingly powerless and dumb agent, by virtue of having privileged access to information and organizational operations, can become the principal by converting growing tacit knowledge of reality into consciously exercised political leverage.

The idea sheds light on why we are instinctively concerned about the Trump administration-in-waiting. While it is plausible, indeed probable, that Trump’s own ideological postures are merely expedient responses to the needs of the moment, the same cannot be said of many of his agents-in-waiting, whether acknowledged or not. They are tools at the moment, being shaped to the will of a victor. Unfortunately, they can easily go from being shaped to doing the shaping.


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


Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936) – “First we shape our tools, then our tools shape us.”

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon #2: The Medium & the Light: Spirituality in the Global Theatre, December 8

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 11:08pm


The Medium and the Light: Spirituality in the Global Theatre

In collaboration with St. Paul’s Bloor Street

With Randy Boyagoda, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto; Charles Falzon, Ryerson University; Anna-Liza Kozma, CBC.

Writer, critic and scholar Randy Boyagoda is the Principal and Vice-President of the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and Professor in the English Department. He also teaches in the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Christianity and Culture program, and holds the inaugural Basilian Chair in Christianity, Arts, and Letters at the University of St. Michael’s College. The author of four books – two novels, a biography, and a scholarly monograph – he regularly contributes essays, reviews and opinions to publications including The New York Times, Guardian, and Financial Times (UK), in addition to appearing frequently on CBC Radio. He also serves as the President of PEN Canada, the writers’ organization that celebrates literature, defends freedom of expression, and aids writers in peril.

Charles Falzon. An international media and entertainment executive, educator and cultural strategy leader, Charles is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) at Ryerson University, home to nine of the country’s leading schools in media and creative industries. In this role, he is a central figure in Ryerson’s curricular innovation, entrepreneurship education and city-building mission, with a focus on maximizing the impact of the creative industries as a catalyst for collaboration, innovation and civic engagement. Charles’ vision for a stronger cultural sector is informed by 30 years at the helm of public and private companies in media production, media distribution, book publishing, theme parks and live entertainment.

Anna-Liza Kozma trained at the BBC and has worked at CBC Radio as a staff producer for more than twenty years. She has been a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune and columnist for Her work on religion, current affairs and women`s issues has been published in books, journals and newspapers in Canada, the US and England. She holds a BA Honours in Media Studies from the Polytechnic of Central London (University of Westminster) and an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She now lurks as producer of CBC Radio’s national current affairs phone-in,Cross Country Checkup and is a Visiting Fellow at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

DATE AND TIME: Thursdday, 8 December, 2016   –   7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST  Add to Calendar

LOCATION: St. Paul’s Bloor Street, 227 Bloor Street East, South side of Bloor Street East, equidistant between Yonge/Bloor and Sherbourne stations. Toronto, ON M4W 1C8.  View Map



St. Paul’s, Bloor Street, Toronto


Categories: Blog

Artists as Distant Early Warning Systems

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:09pm

picassochagall Picasso & Chagall

The Artist as Distant Early Warning System (2005)

When multimedia artist Laurie Anderson performed recently in Vancouver, she mused how life is often like bad art. Characters come and go and never return. The plot changes randomly. Entire themes are abandoned halfway through. Unlike art, life’s point of view is always first person singular, in the present tense. (And usually a tense present.)

So one big purpose of art, for both the creator and the audience, is to give life the form it often lacks. Any artist worth his or her salt hopes to make a mark, to rise above mere trends, even if that expectation is something of a tall order in a culture with the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth.

Being ahead of your time has its down-side, evidenced by the struggling artist’s steady diet of Kraft dinner and humble pie. Prophets are rarely welcome in their own age – partly because of their habit of figuring out something stinks before the rest of us have even had a whiff. The creative contributor to culture has been compared to a “canary in a coal mine,” a reference to miners bringing the birds down coal shafts because of their sensitivity to toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide. Any signs of distress from the canaries was a clear sign that conditions were unsafe and the miners should evacuate.

Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan offered a different metaphor with a similar point. “I think of art, at its most significant, as a DEW line, a Distant Early Warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it,” he wrote in the sixties. McLuhan was as much an oracle as a scholar, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that his more cryptic utterances began to make sense. A highly creative writer who refused to observe the protocols of academic writing, the University of Toronto prof was on the DEW line himself.

Sometimes it seems as if artists aren’t just registering seismic trends with their sensitive equipment, they are remote-viewing the future – or even conjuring it into being. “It is well known that art will often – for example, in pictures – precede the perceptible reality by years,” wrote the philosopher Walter Benjamin in the 1930s. “It was possible to see streets or rooms (in paintings) that show all sorts of fiery colors long before technology, by means of illuminated signs and other arrangements, actually set them under such a light. Whoever understands how to read these semaphores in advance not only knows about currents in the arts but also about legal codes, wars and revolutions.”

The stuff of today’s headlines is the content of yesterday’s canvases, films, novels, and music. Fear over mutated viruses? Check out either Michael Crichton’s novel or film The Andromeda Strain from three decades earlier. Frankenstein scenarios from genetically modified organisms? That’s a whole subgenre of bio-horror, ranging from to Jules Verne’s The Island of Doctor Moreau to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. Computer age dystopias, with humans going cyber? The flesh-made-weird paintings of Hans Giger have combined machinery with biology for years, decorating rock album jackets and inspiring director Ridley Scott’s Aliens film series. Domestic surveillance and virtual worlds run amok? Pick up any of Philip K. Dick’s novels from decades back for a possible preview of a reality we’re building with our technical necromancy. Or go see the relatively recent films that were based on his books, once the world caught up with him: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report. All of these productions still seem like postcards from the future.

It’s no surprise that some artists seem to have a crystal ball, if you consider they’re sometimes responsible for entirely new idioms. These are often jarringly dissonant to the “cultured” eyes and ears of their time. Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral composition The Rite of Spring provoked riots when it was first performed in prewar Europe. The music of the Beatles was considered decadent and destructive by the balding guardians of British high culture. Today the most shocking piece of art is the contemporary protest song – shocking only in the sense that it is now so rarely heard on corporate rock radio. The music industry prefers to direct its promotional efforts on the smoothed down, processed Pablum of mega-selling boy bands and teen Stepford sirens. Programming behemoths like Clear Channel, which owns 1,200 stations in the US, prefers to not rock the boat, the vote, or anything else. But artists like Michael Franti and Green Day still get manage to get around the media matrix, which is still not completely monolithic – good stuff still trickles through.

Like the lion in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, who sang the world into existence, the best artists seem to embody the spirit of creation itself. Even comedy has its ahead-of-their-time visionaries, like Lenny Bruce, Australian Barry Humphries and the late Bill Hicks. The skill of the standup prophet is to say the unsayable, and put it such a way that repressed energy is released in laughter.

Geoff Olson      (Source: )

See also on this blog “Artists as ‘the Antennae of the Race'”:

“Distant Early Warning Line Card Deck” (1969):

dew-line3DEW Line Radar Stations



Categories: Blog

The Proverbs of St. McLuhan, Presented by Kevin Kelly

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 8:11pm

Marshall McLuhan famously dictated much of his “writings” — his literacy began in orality — an irony that was part of his message about the new media. He would lie on a couch in his office and channel some oracle from the future while his students scribbled down his announcements. For this reason, no one really needs to read McLuhan [Disagreed. Reading him is the only way to really understand him, although watching videos of his lectures and interviews is almost equally insightful.]. Much better to hear his quotes second hand or just scan his blurbs and proverbs.


McLuhan was very religious, his variety being Catholic. He was almost priestly in an old way, like the prophesying priests of Delphi. It was in reference to his cosmic faith that at the launch of Wired magazine, I anointed him Wired’s Patron Saint in the masthead. In that same spirit I present these highlights from a few of his lesser known books as proverbs from St. McLuhan. [Obviously, Kevin Kelly has read them all, thereby undermining the facetious claim that nobody needs to read McLuhan.]

Highlights from Understanding Media

  • Man the food-gatherer reappears incongruously as information-gatherer. In this role, electronic man is no less a nomad than his paleolithic ancestors.
  • Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.
  • It is a principal aspect of the electric age that it establishes a global network that has much of the character of our central nervous system.
  • Electric speed mingles the cultures of prehistory with the dregs of industrial marketeers, the nonliterate with the semiliterate and the postliterate. Mental breakdown of varying degrees is the very common result.
  • The American stake in literacy as a technology or uniformity applied to every level of education, government, industry, and social life is totally threatened by the electric technology.
  • Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot.
  • In this electric age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness.
  • By putting our physical bodies inside our extended nervous systems, by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which all previous technologies — including cities — will be translated into information systems.
  • Under electric technology the entire business of man becomes learning and knowing…and all forms of wealth result from the movement of information.
  • Each new technology turns its predecessor into an art form.
  • Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world…enabling it to evolve ever new forms.
  • Except for light, all other media come in pairs, with one acting as the “content” of the other, obscuring the operation of both.
  • Electromagnetic technology requires utter human docility and quiescence of meditation such as befits an organism that now wears its brain outside its skull and its nerves outside its hide.
  • The problem of discovering occupations or employment may prove as difficult as wealth is easy.
  • Might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?
  • The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute a huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics.
  • What would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties?
  • Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left.
  • The implosion of electric energy in our century cannot be met by explosion or expansion, but it can be met by decentralism and the flexibility of multiple small centers.
  • Computers hold out the promise…to bypass languages in favor of general cosmic consciousness.
  • Electric speeds create centers everywhere…This is the new world of the global village.
  • Today the acceleration tends to be total, and thus ends space as the main factor in social arrangements.
  • War is never anything less than accelerated technological change.
  • Now that man has extended his central nervous system by electric technology, the field of battle has shifted to mental image making and breaking, both in war and in business.
  • Print gave to men the concept of indefinite repetition so necessary to the mathematical concept of infinity. The same Gutenberg fact of uniform, continuous, and indefinitely repeatable bits inspired also the related concept of the infinitesimal calculus.
  • “Money talks” because money is a metaphor.
  • The clock dragged man out of the world of seasonal rhythms and recurrence, as effectively as the alphabet had released him from the magical resonance of the spoken word and the tribal trap.
  • Primitive man lived in a much more tyrannical cosmic machine than Western literate man has ever invented.
  • The world of the ear is more embracing and inclusive than that of the eye can ever be.
  • The book was the first teaching machine and also the first mass-produced commodity.
  • Ads are news. What is wrong with them is that they are always good news. In order to balance off the effect and to sell good news, it is necessary for newspapers and television to have a lot of bad news.
  • The social practices of one generation tend to get codified into the “game” of the next.
  • There is a desperate need for games in a highly specialized industrial culture, since they are the only forms of art accessible to many minds.
  • Electricity is only incidentally visual and auditory; it is primarily tactile.
  • The “human interest” dimension is simply that of immediacy of participation in the experience of others that occurs with instant information.
  • The telephone is a participant form that demands a partner. Any literate man resents such a heavy demand for his total attention, because he has long been accustomed to fragmentary attention.
  • The telephone: speech without walls. The phonograph: music hall without walls. The photograph: museum without walls. The electric light: space without walls. The movie, radio, and TV: classroom without walls.
  • Just as we now try to control atom-bomb fallout, so we will one day try to control media fallout. Education will become recognized as civil defense against media fallout.
  • With TV the viewer is the screen.
  • Electric persuasion by photo and movie and TV works by dunking entire populations in new imagery.
  • With instant electric technology, the globe itself can never again be more than a village.
  • The future of work consists of learning a living.

Highlights from Culture is Our Business

  • Privacy invasion is now one of our biggest knowledge industries.
  • The great corporations are new tribal families.

From Gutenberg Galaxy

  • Instead of tending toward a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain.
  • As our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside.
  • Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time.

Source: The Technium


Kevin Kelly in March 2016.


Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor for its first seven years. His new book for Viking/Penguin is called The Inevitable, with a publication date of June 6, 2016. He is also founding editor and co-publisher of the popular Cool Tools website, which has been reviewing tools daily since 2003. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers’ Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. His books include the best-selling New Rules for the New Economythe classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control, a graphic novel about robots and angels, The Silver Cord, an oversize catalog of the best of Cool Tools, and his summary theory of technology in What Technology Wants (2010).

A longer Bio is available here

Categories: Blog

A Review of Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper & Printing- Antiquity to Early Modernity (2015)

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 3:27pm


By Phil A. Rose, McMaster University

HAROLD INNIS’S HISTORY OF COMMUNICATIONS: PAPER & PRINTING — ANTIQUITY TO EARLY MODERNITY. Edited by William J. Buxton, Michael R. Cheney, & Paul Heyer. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. 185 pp. ISBN: 9781442243385.

With their recently published version of Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper and Printing — Antiquity to Early Modernity, editors William Buxton, Michael Cheney, and Paul Heyer provide an excellent reminder of the tragedy of the premature demise of Harold Innis. Originally subtitled An Incomplete and Unrevised Manuscript, the History of Communications is a project that Innis assembled during the last dozen or so years of his life. As John Durham Peters notes, contributing a foreword to the volume, the manuscript has attained a near legendary status among Innis scholars. Consequently, its being published, in any format at all for the first time, has brought into broader light some of what we might have expected from Innis had he lived beyond the meager 58 years he was allotted. Apparently totalling about 1,400 pages in length and going back approximately to 1500 BC with ancient India and China, the editors, in their introduction, draw our attention to the momentous scholarly significance of Innis’s formerly unpublished work: namely, that it very likely constitutes the first true inroads ever made into the history of communications as a field and topic of study.

Noting the overlapping territory with Innis’s monumental Empire and Communications (1950), Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer point out that History doubtless provided that text with some of its source material, contrary to what has become the established view within Innis scholarship that it had followed as outtakes of that classic work. Rather than being framed around civilizations, however, the incomplete and unpublished “History” manuscript was organizing its investigation around types of media, and, accordingly, included much greater textured detail in that regard.

Recounting that the first three chapters were meant to move from the Near East to Europe and to focus on the materials on which texts were written (specifically clay, papyrus, and parchment), our editorial trio delineates how Innis’s overall intention was to trace the history of writing materials up to and including the twentieth century. With the remainder of the volume outlining how paper migrated from China to Europe, they emphasize Innis’s analysis of how this process thus “set the stage for the epic battle between parchment and paper, culminating in the triumph of paper culture, as linked to printing and publishing, as well as a host of institutions and practices they underpinned” (p. 4). Paper was a revolutionary medium, and Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer keenly elucidate how Innis’s fascinating project reflects a continuation of his earlier emphasis on staples, typically things like the fur trade and the cod fisheries, and, here, rooted in his focus on the pulp and paper industry.

Shortly after Innis’s death, an edited version of this project was submitted to the University of Toronto Press but was rejected as a result of the poor reviews it garnered, claiming that it amounted basically to reading notes that would constitute plagiarism should they be published. Alexander John Watson (2007) upholds this interpretation, but this is an account that excludes any reference to previous versions of the manuscript identified in the Innis Archives at the University of Toronto. Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer have likewise edited and significantly “cleaned up” the text, and Innis originally intended the three chapters included in this volume to be Chapters Four, Five, and Six of a much larger work. Consecutively titled “The Coming of Paper,” “Printing in the 15th Century,” and “Printing in the 16th Century,” these chapters address topics that are not significantly dealt with elsewhere, including the effects on Elizabethan book markets of the uncertainty of patronage, and questions about power, class, and labour struggles within the early French paper industry, issues that tend to be left unaddressed in Innis’s political-economic analyses.

As Innis traces the spread of the making of paper and the paper industry from China through Turkestan, Baghdad, Tihama, Damascus, Sicily, and Fez, to what is now modern Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, he also explores topics such as the use of ink, movable type, and the distribution of both paper and books. The editors summarize the mammoth media ecological dimensions of the project, and the way that Innis clarifies how paper and printing were linked to a range of phenomena, “including language, religion, printed currency, public opinion, literature, and education” (p. 7). Summarizing the developments that paper helped to spawn, and that Innis here explores, they include “credit, monopolized lending, a growing interest in antiquity, the revival of Roman law, constitutionalism, the accessing of scriptures, the preserving of Latin, the subverting of feudal law, the reforming of the Church, the Protestant revolt, the strengthening of vulgate languages, and the beginning of the Renaissance” (p. 8).

In this regard, the editors point out how History now takes its place as the first among a number of important texts concerned with the role of print in early modernity that emerged in the wake of Innis’s death, including Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin’s The Coming of the Book (1958), Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962), and the late Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe (1978). Some of the interesting historical details that Innis notes in his work include the introduction of cursive handwriting at the end of the 11th century, along with the recognition of how writing’s development on a large scale assumed the existence of a cheaper material than parchment, which until the late 13th century was very expensive. Though paper was introduced generally in the fourteenth century, Innis notes that it was not a serious rival to parchment until the fifteenth century, when the paper industry had also reached Germany. And there, in 1534, Martin Luther published the first German edition of the entire Scriptures within one volume.

Looking ahead to the soon-to-be-released follow-up to this volume, Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer have said that they are publishing Innis’s hitherto unpublished and now missing MA thesis The Returned Soldier (1918), along with his incomplete memoir (which goes only up to 1922) and some of his central correspondence, including letters sent home from Toronto to Otterville that describe his agony and culture shock, when he first set off to McMaster University, back in the days before McMaster moved its operations from Toronto to Hamilton.

Fittingly, the editors refer to the chapters they have included here as Innis’s analysis of “the paper and printing complex.” And they suggest that what Innis accomplishes in this work is to probe its impacts in Asia and Europe “upon politics, culture, and economics” (p. 8). As it so happens, not least of these impacts were those in France, where, as Innis informs us, new regulations apparently exempted booksellers from military services; as an alternative, however, they were “compelled to light the public lanterns each evening to 1640” (p. 90). Though Innis never sounds off on the complexion of this arrangement, we could predict—given his own traumatic experience of the First World War—that he may have viewed this as a reasonable compromise.

Reference: Watson, Alexander John. (2007). Marginal man: The dark vision of Harold Innis. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Published in: ROSE, Phil A. Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper and Printing – Antiquity to Early Modernity. Canadian Journal of Communication, [S.l.], v. 41, n. 4, nov. 2016. ISSN 1499-6642. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 15 Nov. 2016.

Source (from which a PDF of this review can be downloaded):

For publication details see the original announcement of this book on this blog at

innis3 Harold Adams Innis (1894 – 1952)

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Fall Program: Monday Night Seminars, November 14 & 21; December 12, 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 11/09/2016 - 8:50pm

New Coach Hose

2016-17 Theme: The New Shape of Things: Big Data, Big Stories

Our theme last year was “City as Classroom” where we sought insight and experience that the city has to offer to inform and stimulate. This year we go beyond the city in exploring the extent to which McLuhan’s adage that “the medium is the message” applies to the underlying influences of our data surround and in particular “big data” that shape and influence how we see, act and grow. We seek explore data both literally and metaphorically from a variety of perspectives of science, the arts, business, industry and academe.

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park CrescentEast off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3   View Map

Monday Night Seminar, Monday, November 14th, 6:00 PM


With Josh Akers, Geography and Urban & Regional Studies;
Christopher Lee, University of Buffalo, Department of Art
Mita Williams, University of Windsor Information Services
Janine Marchessault, York University, Cinema and Media Studies




Monday Night Seminar, Monday, November 21st, 6:00 PM

With Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and writer;
Ramona Pringle, Ryerson University;
Seamus Ross, University of Toronto and Visiting Professor Athens University of Economics and Business (2016)




Monday Night Seminar, Monday, December 12th, 6:00 PM



Categories: Blog

New Book Announcement: Written by an Original Member of the Toronto School: David R. Olson

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 11:15am


The Mind on Paper: Reading, Consciousness and Rationality

David R. Olson, Professor Emeritus, OISE, University of Toronto

Author Information:

Planned Publication: November 2016   –   Not yet published   –   Hardback   –   ISBN: 9781107162891

Although the importance of literacy is widely acknowledged in society and remains at the top of the political agenda, writing has been slow to establish a place in the cognitive sciences. Olson argues that to understand the cognitive implications of literacy, it is necessary to see reading and writing as providing access to and consciousness of aspects of language, such as phonemes, words and sentences, that are implicit and unconscious in speech. Reading and writing create a system of metarepresentational concepts that bring those features of language into consciousness as a subject of discourse. This consciousness of language is essential not only to acquiring literacy but also to the formation of systematic thought and rationality. The Mind on Paper is a compelling exploration of what literacy does for our speech and hence for our thought, and will be of interest to readers in developmental psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, and education.

  • Presents a general theory of how reading and writing invite a new and distinctive consciousness of language
  • Finds a significant place for writing in the cognitive and educational sciences
  • Shows that the ‘reading wars’ can be resolved by a better understanding of the role of metarepresentational knowledge in reading and learning to read

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction: Reading, Writing and the Mind
1. Awakening: reading and consciousness
Part II. Theories of the Relation between Writing and Mind:
2. Inventing writing: the history of writing and the ontogeny of writing
3. Dewey and the New Pragmatists: reading, writing and mind
4. Vygotsky and the Vygotskians
5. The cognitive science of metarepresentation
Part III. Reading and the Invention of Language about Language:
6. Phonemes and the alphabet
7. The discovery of words and thinking about words
8. Sentences and logic
9. Prose and rational argument
10. The testing of rationality and the rationality of testing
Part IV. The Implications and Uses of Metarepresentational Language:
11. The psychology and pedagogy of reading
12. The psychology and pedagogy of rationality
Part V. Conclusions:
13. Reading, consciousness and rationality
Author index
Subject index.

Look Inside (PDF): Front Matter (86 KB)

Follow the link below to retrieve PDFs of: Index (80 KB)  –  Marketing Excerpt (85 KB)  –  Table of Contents (38 KB)  –  Copyright Information Page (36 KB)   Source: 

See for author background information and previous books: 

“Conceptually, I am a child at at least a step-child of Jerome Bruner, Jack Goody, Marshall McLuhan and Eric Havelock.” – Preface to The World on Paper (1994)


Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan’s Legacy Enhanced at the University of Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 11/04/2016 - 10:26pm

An exhibition on Marshall McLuhan is running at Toronto’s St. Michael’s College until Dec. 20.

Marshall McLuhan’s legendary status confirmed with exhibition

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register, October 23, 2016

When Marshall McLuhan died New Year’s Eve 1980, the University of Toronto lost a man they found slightly embarrassing.

In the view of university administrators, McLuhan’s Monday night seminars on culture, technology and media had become more cult than curriculum. His exalted status as one of the great minds of the era had reached no higher than a cameo appearance in the Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall.

He wasn’t merely an academic observing the media. He had become a media star. That was unforgivable in university circles.

And then there was all that Catholic stuff — his musings on the effect of microphones on the liturgy, etc.

On his death at age 69, the university immediately closed McLuhan’s office and classroom in the coach house, which had become a centre of interdisciplinary studies in media. The administration mocked students who protested the move.

McLuhan’s son, Michael, recalls that his father endured more than his share of “academic jealousy.” There was, after McLuhan’s death, almost a campaign “trying to keep him from being taken seriously,” said Michael McLuhan.

At an event Oct. 13, the University of St. Michael’s College emphatically reclaimed McLuhan and recognized his status as a towering figure in the 164-year history of the Catholic college, where McLuhan had been a faculty member since 1946.

Who wouldn’t want to be associated with the man who predicted the Internet 30 years before it happened?

The final rehabilitation of McLuhan at the school involves an exhibition on his life and work at the John M. Kelly Library of St. Michael’s College, on display until Dec. 20. St. Michael’s kicked the exhibition off by elevating René Cera’s interpretation of McLuhan’s thought in the painting Pied Pipers All — the canvas had once served as backdrop to McLuhan’s Monday night seminars at the coach house — to a central location on campus in the Canada Room of Brennan Hall.

Georgetown University’s Paul Elie delivered a lecture on “The Makings of a Spirituality of Technology: Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan and ‘Electronic Participation’” after Cera’s painting was unveiled.

That there is a spirituality to McLuhan’s work should surprise no one.

“His faith was absolutely inextricable from who he was and what he did,” said Michael.



Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Fall Program Week 1: Monday Night Seminar, November 7, 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 10/27/2016 - 10:18pm

New Coach HoseThe New Shape of Things: Big Data, Big Stories

Inaugural Monday Night Seminar, Monday November 7th, 6:00 PM

The McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto, is pleased to announce a Fall 2016/Winter 2017 rollout of events. Weekly sessions carry on the “Monday Night Seminar” tradition of McLuhan, where open, frank and sometimes explosive exchange takes place in the same intimate Coach House setting where McLuhan once held court.

A roster of programs for Fall 2016/Winter 2017 brings together an eclectic mix of innovators and thinkers from the university and the larger global village. This program of events is designed to challenge notions, provoke thought and help us imagine our collective future.

2016/2017 theme: The new shape of things: Big Data, Big Stories

Our theme last year was “City as Classroom” where we sought insight and experience that the city has to offer to inform and stimulate. This year we go beyond the city in exploring the extent to which McLuhan’s adage that “the medium is the message” applies to the underlying influences of our data surround and in particular “big data” that shape and influence how we see, act and grow.
We seek to explore data both literally and metaphorically from a variety of perspectives of science, the arts, business, industry and academe.

DATE AND TIME: Mon, 7 November 2016   –   6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST   Add to Calendar

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3   View Map



Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon: Rethinking the Global Village, November 2

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:15pm


With Anne Michaels, Toronto’s Poet Laureate; Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library; and more…

McLuhan Salons: Rethinking the Global Village
Six bull sessions, six big ideas, six Toronto hot spots

This fall the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto is stepping out of the university and into the city, to better understand who we are, what matters to us, and where we might be going in a networked and rapidly changing world.
The McLuhan Salons will take place in six different dynamic city locations further dissolving the boundaries of the university and the city in bringing the multi-disciplinary multi-practice approaches to bear made famous by Marshall McLuhan.
The McLuhan Centre and these six salons are committed to breaking down the silos of academic disciplines, the university and society, public and private enterprise, art, business, civil society and individuals in order to release the energy of new and outrageous ideas, innovative thought, and transformative understanding and action.

The McLuhan Salons position the city as instructive in rethinking the larger interconnected global village. The collectivity of our global thought, actions and generational evolution are the defining principles the global human condition which we wish to explore. Each Salon will commence with moderated probative discussion within a panel of top leaders and thinkers, and will engage the audience.

DATE AND TIME: Wed, 2 November 2016   –   6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT   –   Add to Calendar

LOCATION: Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Council Chamber of City Hall (3rd floor), Toronto, ON M5G 1P5   –   View Map



Categories: Blog

McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions Exhibition Runs Until December 20

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 9:29am

McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions Exhibition

Runs from October 13 at 7:00 pm until December 20 at 7:00 pm

Location: The Kelly Library, St. Michael’s College, 113 St. Joseph Street, University of Toronto


Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at the University of St. Michael’s College. McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication is presented through artifacts, audio, texts, video and photographs selected from archival repositories across the University of Toronto and the Federated Colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity and Victoria. The exhibition will feature items drawn from the Special Collections and holdings at St. Michael’s, including material from the Sheila and Wilfred Watson archives, Donald Theall papers and Marshall McLuhan collection. Rare and intimate examples on display include McLuhan’s correspondence and collaborations with friends and colleagues on campus such as Claude Bissell, Tom Easterbrook, Carl Williams, Harold Innis, Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.


A Review of the Exhibition from the U of T Student Varsity Newspaper, by William Goldie

McLuhan is the message – McLuhan on Campus challenges students to think about their surroundings

In the midst of a seemingly endless series of exams, assignments, and other obligations, it’s understandable for students to start reducing the U of T experience to one based on survival. One can be focused on making it through the next week, the next month, and the next semester, without making strong connections to the things that make a major research university like U of T important.

Some experiences jolt us out of this reverie — they remind us of the importance of the work we’re involved in and that the research we’re surrounded by every day is actually significant. From now until December 20, events like the Kelly Library’s current multimedia exhibition on the life of Marshall McLuhan have the potential to provide these experiences. McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions displays items from the university’s collections on the professor and strives to document both McLuhan’s work as one of the university’s most prominent academics and his lasting effect on its programs.

McLuhan worked as a Professor of English from 1946 until just prior to his death in 1980. His writings, alongside those of Harold Innis who was also highlighted in the exhibition, were some of the most influential works in the development of media and communications theory. He also helped establish the university as a centre for media and communications research, first through the unofficial School of Communication research group, and later through the Centre for Culture and Technology, which still operates today as part of the Faculty of Information (iSchool).

McLuhan’s growing recognition on the international stage in the second half of the twentieth century — and eventual status as a household name — is reflected in the objects on display. Correspondences with famous academics and early drafts of seminal books and papers are displayed, alongside McLuhan’s interviews in Playboy, Newsweek, and The New York Times Magazine.

Besides academic work and press clippings, the exhibition featured artifacts from McLuhan’s personal life and professional consulting career in advertising. Displays that depict the development of television and radio were also included, as were a series of zine-like, ad-hoc newsletters that he published.

Signs around the building commemorate McLuhan’s many enduring aphorisms and turns of phrase about art, media, and technology like the “global village” and “the medium is the message.” There are also quotes from his contemporaries. In a nod to the fact that his quotes were often misattributed or popularized by others, such as Andy Warhol’s “art is anything you can get away with” and Timothy Leary’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” mantra which reputedly originated with McLuhan, none of the signs display an author. A discreet bibliography on the ground floor notes the origin of each text.

Of course, a McLuhan exhibition would not be complete if it didn’t incorporate some kind of new medium, and multimedia terminals mounted in the middle of the library satisfied this need. The touchscreen devices serve as an index for parts of the university’s McLuhan collection; video and audio interviews were accessible through them. They proved to be the most thought-provoking elements of the entire exhibition.

While many of his ideas have always been controversial, it’s difficult to deny how prescient McLuhan’s work is, especially after seeing recordings of his lectures and speeches from the 1950–1960s about much of what has come to be today’s digital media landscape.

As an exhibition installed in a mixed-program public space, McLuhan on Campus is a little physically awkward. Parts of the collection can be difficult to view in detail without disturbing students studying at desks and tables nearby. Despite this, embedding the exhibition in a high-traffic space was appropriate and symbolic since media theory is still an esoteric subject, and McLuhan’s work is relevant to many students who otherwise might not go out of their way to see an exhibition on it. Showing it in the middle of a major library proves a deliberate and strategic method for exposing more people to work that can educate and inspire — many of us could probably use the jolt. (Source of article: )

Kelly Library Hours

Categories: Blog

What Marshall McLuhan Might say About Trump on TV

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 10:52am

Inspirational motivational quote. We don't see things the way they are. We see them the way we are. Simple trendy design.    Dennis Gallagher

With more presidential television debates looming I am reminded of what Marshall McLuhan, the media ecologist, wrote about the influence of television on our first televised debates in 1960 and their influence on our politics. To try to explain the nature of television and its effect on viewers, he christened TV a “cool” medium and only “cool” laidback personalities did best on the cool medium of TV.  “Hot” personalities were unacceptable on TV.  He stated a “hot” personality is to say that anybody whose appearance strongly declares his role and status in life is wrong for TV.

Nixon looked classifiable and viewers felt uncomfortable with his TV image.  The viewer says uneasily, “There’s something about the guy that isn’t right.”  Furthermore, “Kennedy did not look like a rich man or like a politician,” McLuhan wrote.  Kennedy “presented a not too precise or too ready of speech so as “to spoil his pleasantly tweedy blur of countenance and outline.”

JFK, sun tanned and rested from his compound at Hyannis, armed with his blurred ample hair falling over his forehead, aided by easy humor, and a great smile charmed TV viewers in the debate. Nixon got a haircut for the debates, probably wanting to look “clean cut” with lowered ears, fine upstanding and real American. That high definition image did him no good on the cool medium of TV.  On top of that, he had a cold and sweated profusely during the debate.

JFK’s dad told him to “Look at the camera, don’t look at Nixon, he’ll never vote for you. Look at the voters behind the camera, they are the ones who count.” Great advice, Joe. Nixon instead looked at Kennedy not the voters with his dark brooding eyes that stared blankly at times. All that did not help him on the medium of television.

Those who watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy with his visually less well-defined image and nonchalant attitude won the debate. Those who listened to the debate on radio, however, gave Nixon the win. His hot personality and deep radio voice won it for him on the “hot” medium of radio. “I am not a crook.”

The hot personality of Donald Trump should be sinking him according to the McLuhan theory of hot and cool personalities on TV.  And Hilary is a more blurred image that should help her on TV.  A grandmother, secretary?

So how did Trump break the McLuhan theory of hot personalities flopping on the cool television medium?

We must look to McLuhan’s fellow media ecologist, Neil Postman, whose message on the back of his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, 1985, shares that “Television has conditioned us to tolerate visually entertaining material measured out in spoonful’s of time, to the detriment of rational public discourse and reasoned public affairs”. Postman alerted us to what, in my view, is happening with the media in this election. There are “ready and present dangers and offers compelling suggestions as to how to withstand the media onslaught.” 

Trump breaks the mold because he is a television entertainment personality. Was Trump on TV more than another movie television president, Ronald Reagan? Trump’s “You’re fired,” and Reagan’s “Bonanza” land with a twenty mule team inoculated Americans with years of television entertainment. Hilary does not have that advantage. Watch out, Democrats. And Richard Lanham in his book Economics of Attention shows us that our attention span has shortened dramatically.  No four hour Lincoln-Douglas debates here ever again. TV creates bottled celebrity and machine made fame.

In the final chapter of his book, Postman muses that culture can whither in two ways. Orwellian-culture becomes a prison.  Huxleyan-culture becomes a burlesque. Postman adds that “entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television.” Entertainer Trump is doing well on his medium, television.  This presidential campaign season shows us that we have already turned over politics, education, religion, and journalism to the show-business demands of the television age. 

The final paragraph in Postman’s book might be warning us about this election cycle as it describes what is happening to America.   Huxley believed like H. G. Wells that we “are in a race between education and disaster,” and he wrote continuously about the necessity of our understanding the politics and epistemology of media.  For, in the end, he was trying to tell us that what afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”

Is it too late for us to figure out how media shapes our lives and politics and ways, in which we can, in turn, reconfigure them to serve our highest goals as a media savvy nation?

Source: North Denver Tribune, October 20, 2016 (

About the author Dennis Gallagher:


Categories: Blog

The 6th Annual Medium & the Light Award Conferred at the Toronto School Conference, October 16

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 4:33pm

Sister Angela Ann Zukowski. Sister Angela Ann Zukowski

(Click on any image for expanded view)

The 2016 Medium and the Light Award

The recipient of the sixth annual Medium and the Light Award, in recognition of the religious dimensions of the life and work of Marshall McLuhan, was presented on Sunday, October 16 in Toronto at the closing Gala Awards Dinner of the international conference, The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next held at the University of Toronto.

Sister Angela Ann Zukowski,  MHSH (Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart), D. Min., a longtime media practitioner, entrepreneur, scholar and educator in Catholic communications, is the recipient of this year’s Award.  She is  Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and Associate Professor in the Dept. of Religious Studies, founder of the world wide Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation at the University of Dayton.   Sr. Angela Ann uniquely served as mentor/academic advisor to the last (2015) recipient of the Medium and the Light Award, the late Richard J. Osicki and as mentee of the first (2011) recipient of this award, the late Fr. Pierre Babin, omi through her desire to re-imagine his Symbolic Way in light of the digital culture.  This was at least in part fulfilled by her collaborative work with Fr. Babin in The Gospel in Cyberspace: Nurturing Faith in the Internet Age (2002) which culminated her 12-year association with his Centre for Research in Education and Communication (Crec Avex) in Lyon, France.  Sr. Angela Ann is receiving the Medium and the Light Award particularly for her long and courageous exploration of a theology of communications that probes how media technologies may be more effectively used in faith formation to understand the Gospel in a digital age.


Sister Angela Ann Zukowski & Howard Engel

In her acceptance speech, Sr. Angela Ann spoke passionately without notes out of gratitude for her collaborative friendship with Fr. Babin and, by extension, with Marshall McLuhan whom Fr. Babin knew and interviewed personally.  In light of their insights on the effects of media technologies on human beings, she also posed a challenge to all in attendance to once in a while become untethered to those technologies.  They have a tendency to tie people down and even enslave them by their mesmerizing power.  This is only true to the extent that people let themselves be so enslaved.  She remarked that she invites her own students to go technology free and once they try it they want more time for silence, reflection and meditation.

The Award is given annually by The Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.  The University of Manitoba is Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater.  He earned the Gold Medal in Arts for 1933 and an M.A. in English literature (1934).

The inaugural award, in 2011, was presented to the late Fr. Pierre Babin, omi (1925-2012), in Lyons, France. The unique Medium and Light obelisk statuette representing the award was unveiled by Dr. Eric McLuhan during Toronto’s McLuhan Centenary celebrations that summer. Originally conceived by the late Director of the Marshall McLuhan Initiative, Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012), and inspired by the book The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion by Marshall McLuhan and edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (1999) was designed by The Initiative in collaboration with artist Matthew McMillan of Prairie Studio Glass, Winnipeg who uniquely recreates the glass obelisk each year.

The 2012 award was presented to Dr. Thomas W. Cooper, the distinguished professor of communications at Emerson College in Boston during the international conference “McLuhan: Social Media Between Faith and Culture” held at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

The 2013 award was presented to none other than Dr. Eric McLuhan, world-renowned author, lecturer and prober into all things media ecology, during the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of McLuhan’s Centre for Culture & Technology, University of Toronto.

The 2014 award was presented to Fr. John J. Pungente, S.J.  and The Jesuit Communication Project (JCP) which he directs, both internationally known and award winning media literacy leaders  on the occasion of JCP’s 30th anniversary and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Marshall McLuhan’s seminal work, Understanding Media during the Media Ecology Association’s Convention in Toronto.

The 2015 award was presented posthumously to the late Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012), journalist, broadcaster, media educator and explorer in search of a theology of communications through his Master’s thesis on McLuhan and Canadian Jesuit theologian Bernard Lonergan and first director of The Marshall McLuhan Initiative  on Sunday, October 18 in Hanley Hall, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba,  at the McLuhan’s Faith and Works Conference, jointly held by the Initiative and the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity, Wheaton, Illinois, on the 100th anniversary of the McLuhan family’s move to Winnipeg in 1915.

Howard R. Engel

2016-medium-and-the-light-award-saaz-pink The Medium & the Light Award

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology Heritage Toronto Plaque Unveiling, October 12, 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 6:13pm

For nearly fifty years, Heritage Toronto’s Plaques and Markers Program has officially remembered key people, places and events which have shaped the city we live in today. From 20th century skyscrapers, to the sites of former aboriginal villages, to the city’s first Chinatown, the range of possible plaque subjects has been as diverse as Toronto’s history itself. Current plaques can be viewed on the Heritage Toronto Exploration Map!


Click on the image for an expanded view on all photos


Assembled audience inside the Coach House for the Heritage Toronto McLuhan Centre Plaque unveiling, October 12, 2016 at 2 noon


Dr. Seamus Ross, Interim McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology Director, opening remarks


Tyler Greenleaf, Heritage Toronto


Dr. Robert (“Bob”) Logan, Emeritus Professor & McLuhan collaborator

Immediately to his right, sitting down, is Gwendolyn McLuhan, Marshall McLuhan’s grand-daughter


Kristyn Wong-Tam, City of Toronto Councilor


Dr. Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto 


David Mulroney, President of the University of St. Michael’s College


Michael McLuhan, son of Marshall McLuhan & McLuhan Estate manager


The plaque, to be affixed to the outside of the Coach House

A Short History of the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, informally known as the Coach House


On October 24, 1963, John Kelly, president of St. Michael’s College, and Claude T. Bissell, president of the University of Toronto, together decided to establish the Centre for Culture and Technology. The Centre became McLuhan’s office in the English Department at St. Michael’s College.

Beside McLuhan himself, the early members of the Centre included Allen Bernholtz (Architecture), Drs. Daniel Cappon and E. Llewellyn-Thomas (Medicine), B. M. Carpendale and Arthur Porter (Engineering), W. T. Easterbrook (Political Science), Carl Wilson (Psychology), Harley Parker (Design, Royal Ontario Museum) and Ed Rogers (Anthropology). Seminars, workshops, lectures and other events were held regularly wherever space was available.

While McLuhan was at Fordham University during 1967 and ’68, Professor Arthur Porter, the acting director of the Centre, obtained the Coach House for McLuhan’s Centre. Upon McLuhan’s return from New York, the Centre moved into its new home at 39A 39A Queen’s park Crescent East. Former and future students, visiting teachers and scholars, researchers, people with interesting ideas or proposals for joint work or just curious tourists stopped by the Program.

Through the 1970s, McLuhan’s famous Monday Night Seminars filled the main seminar room at the Centre. A dynamic community was formed during those seminars, a community remembered fondly by many participants who return to the Coach House today to visit and reminisce. The seminar room remains visually dominated by the stunning mural, Pied Pipers All, by Canadian artist René Cera, a gift to the McLuhan Program from McLuhan’s widow, Corinne McLuhan.

Following Marshall McLuhan’s death, on New Year’s Eve 1980, the University of Toronto closed the Centre, but following a tremendous worldwide outcry, the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology was reopened. Literacy scholar and OISE professor David Olsen became the first director.

In the summer of 1994, the McLuhan program joined the Faculty of Information Studies as a distinct research and teaching unit. From its base at the historic Coach House on the east campus, the McLuhan Program continued to engage in its explorations into the nature and effects of technologies on culture.

1994 – Present

In 1994, The McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology became a research and teaching unit of the University of Toronto Faculty of Information. The Faculty of Information is a professional graduate faculty of the University of Toronto and the home of a broad-based group of information professionals. FI offers two degree programs: a doctoral program (Ph.D.) and a Master of Information Studies program (M.I.St.) with three specializations: archival studies, information systems, and library and information science. Graduates work in a wide range of information settings as librarians, information systems specialists, web designers, educators, archivists, researchers, records managers, and information consultants. The iSchool also offers a (MMSt) Museum Studies Program.

In 2009, the iSchool, also known as the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, launched the Coach House Institute (CHI) as a clearly defined research unit under which the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology now operates. The move recognizes the broad mandate of the CHI, facilitates its governance, management and oversight within governing UofT practices, and enables the CHI to make a significant contribution to the Faculty’s intellectual presence within the University.

On May 31, 2016 the Coach House Institute was officially renamed the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. Source: )

Categories: Blog

The Toronto School of Communication Resurrected (Retrieved), October 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:27pm


McLuhan Centenary Fellow Paolo Granata, Conference Chair Extraordinaire, in Front of the Coach House (photo by Romi Levine) (Click on any image for a closer view)

Conference brings influential media thinkers back into the spotlight (and it’s about time!)

Toronto has its fair share of cultural icons. Today, it’s Drake – our chart-topping, Raptors-loving rap superstar whose nickname for Toronto, “the 6ix,” has become a part of our daily lexicon.

In the 1960s, it was a group of forward-thinking intellectuals led by Marshall McLuhan, one of University of Toronto’s most famous professors. He became a celebrity as his ideas on mass media, culture and technology attracted fans like John Lennon, Woody Allen and Pierre Trudeau. 

A heritage plaque dedicated to McLuhan was unveiled Wednesday at the coach house where he taught and hosted discussions for much of his career. The building is now called the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. Starting today [October 13] , the McLuhan Centre, which is part of the Faculty of Information, will be launching a series of events that explore the value and importance of McLuhan and the famed group of intellectuals who were called the Toronto School of Communication. The McLuhan Centre hopes to spark a conversation that will inspire a new generation of thinkers with a three-day conference called Toronto School: Then, Now, Next.


“McLuhan famously broke and transcended boundaries – between disciplines, between academia and popular culture, between the local and the global,” said U of T President Meric Gertler at the unveiling event.  “But he was rooted here, among colleagues from a range of disciplines, in what would become known as the Toronto School of Communication – a brilliant talent-cluster that helped accentuate U of T’s position as a world-leading centre for creativity and leadership in the humanities,” he said.  Also in attendance was McLuhan’s son, Michael, who said that what keeps his father “relevant and marvelous today” are the people who continue to debate and discuss McLuhan’s ideas. “[The conference] just speaks to the far reach that he has all over the world, not just here in the city of Toronto,” he said. uoft-pres-gertler McLuhan along with Harold Innis, Eric Havelock, Northrop Frye and musician Glenn Gould formed the Toronto School of Communication, which forever changed how we view our relationship with media and technology.  The three-day conference, which starts today, features guests and speakers from 21 different countries. “We are really building a community around the label of the Toronto School,” says Paolo Granata, McLuhan Centenary fellow and conference chair.  McLuhan’s insights have never been more relevant than they are today, says U of T alumna and editor of The Toronto School of Communication Theory, Rita Watson. His ideas eerily foreshadow our Internet-obsessed culture and the rise of social networks. “He predicted a crisis in the modern era as literate ‘mentalities’ that had evolved in literate cultures tried to integrate the effects of electronic media,” says Watson, who will be speaking at the conference. McLuhan knew electronic media would change our lives, says Granata. “This kind of network is where the ideas come from. It’s where innovation comes from,” he says.  37 PM,  8C, 1798x1740,  (3066+5502), 125%, Default Settin,  1/60 s, R47.8, G28.6, B55.0

(Marshall McLuhan at U of T in 1973, UofT archives)

The Toronto School conference is also an opportunity to give a voice to a more diverse group of media theorists. “A lot of young women are involved in this conference as student volunteers or as panelists,” says Emma Findlay-White, a fourth-year student at Victoria College in book and media studies and the conference’s volunteer coordinator. “There’s a lot of different ways women are getting their perspective and views out there. It’s important that we’re changing the role women play in media.” And change is good for the Toronto School. 

“We are at the McLuhan Centre not to say what McLuhan said,” Granata says. “We are here to do what McLuhan did: foster conversation, participation, foster the awareness about how we can look at the contemporary world.” (Article source: )    –    Read more about the McLuhan Centre 

Categories: Blog

The Toronto School Conference, October 13-16, 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 7:12pm


Click on image to expand.

The Toronto School Conference, Oct 13 – 16, 2016;  A subset of the over 330 who attended; In front of Victoria College, U of Toronto . Seen in the photograph in no special order are: Elena Lamberti, Michael McLuhan, Luigi Ferrara, Anne MacLennan, Joshua Meyrowitz, Daniel Paré, Derrick de Kerckhove, Dominique Scheffel-Dunand, Phil Rose, Twyla Gibson, Davide Bennato, David Nostbakken, Mark Stahlman, Paolo Granata, Mario Pireddu, Emma Findlay-White, Penny Johnson, Steve Hicks, Gary Genosko, Adam Pugen, Alexander Kuskis, Leona Seely, Malcolm Dean, Paul Farrelly, Bob Rodgers, Howard Engel, Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, Agnes Kruchio, et al. Student Helpers in blue T-shirts.


Categories: Blog

A New Book of Harold Innis Writings: Harold Innis Reflects: Memoir & WWI Writings/Correspondence

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 9:21am


Harold Innis Reflects: Memoir & WWI Writings/ Correspondence

Edited by William J. Buxton; Michael R. Cheney & Paul Heyer –Foreword by Anne Innis Dagg

Offering fresh insight into the early life of Harold Adams Innis (1894-1952), this volume makes available a number of previously unpublished writings from the renowned Canadian economic historian and media scholar.

Part I, Innis’s autobiographical memoir, chronicles his farm-based family background, early education, military service during World War I, and the beginnings of what would become a distinguished academic career. Part II features a selection of correspondence during his military service, revealing both the pain and perceptions derived from that experience, and other war-related writings. It also includes “The Returned Soldier,” a detailed piece of research and a compassionate plea to recognize how the aftermath of the Great War would affect those who served as well as the individuals and institutions on the home front. Years before the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” was coined, Innis was acutely aware of the condition and suggested ways in which it might be treated. Other war-related items included are Innis’s first published article (dealing with the economics of the soldier) and a draft speech composed in the fall of 1918. All original materials have been extensively annotated to provide context for the contemporary reader and researcher. 

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers   –   Pages: 260 • Size: 7 1/2 x 10 1/2

 978-1-4422-7399-3 • Hardback • October 2016 • US $95.00 • CDN $124.00 978-1-4422-7400-6 • eBook • October 2016 • $94.99 • CDN $99.70 The price is high, especially in Canada, as is the case with academic books these days. There is nothing on media scholarship here, so the book will appeal to those wanting to better understand the University of Toronto scholar who first produced the early Canadian economic staples research and only late in life turned to communication scholarship, helping establish the foundations for a new academic field. innis-on-the-peace-river-1924

Harold Innis canoeing on the Peace River, 1924

Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan’s Pioneering Work Still Revealing Itself

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 6:49pm

marshall mcluhan

McLuhan at New York University on June 14, 1966. (AP Photo/John Lindsay) What’s Next for the University of Toronto’s Centre for Culture and Technology? Posted on October 5, 2016

Toronto, ON – Marshall McLuhan is the most influential thinker in Canada known globally for predicting social media, the Internet, crowd-sourced news, and reality television.

At the height of his fame in the mid-60s, he hobnobbed with John Lennon, Pierre Trudeau, Norman Mailer, Woody Allen, and Barbara Walters. A Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar who worked at the intersection of culture and technology—he is credited with building the foundation for our obsession with digital media. His Centre of Culture and Technology, located within a small coach house on the U of T campus, acted as a clubhouse where he mulled over ideas and created questions probing how people communicated.

So why is Prof. McLuhan’s work relevant now, 36 years after this death? Because we are still producing intellectual giants at the University Toronto.

“Marshall McLuhan and his Toronto School colleagues helped accentuate U of T’s position as a global centre for creativity and leadership in the humanities,” said Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto. “He remains a key figure in communication and media studies, and the work of the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology is vital in engaging local and international partners in exploring the implications of his theories for the 21st century.”

For a forty year period until the 1970s, McLuhan was part of a remarkable intellectual climate within and around the University of Toronto when scholars Harold Innis, Eric Havelock, Glenn Gould, and Northrop Frye made up the so-called Toronto School of Communication. Their theories were instrumental in drawing worldwide attention to the idea that technological engagement plays a fundamental role in the structuring of human perception and culture.

The University is still building on the foundation of McLuhan’s work conducted in his modest “Coach House,” where he spent much of his 30-year career at U of T, now affiliated with the Faculty of Information.

“The Centre for Culture and Technology is an intellectual cabin in a forest of city skyscrapers where Herbert Marshall McLuhan engaged the public in probing the interrelationship of technology and culture and their effects on perception and social order,” says David Nostbakken, a McLuhan former student and teaching assistant of McLuhan’s, currently the McLuhan Centre strategist.

The Centre, first established on October 24, 1963, in the heart of St. Michaels’ campus, was where McLuhan conducted Monday Night Seminars, classes, and art exhibitions, bringing together scholars and researchers from all branches of science and humanities in discourse with the city and the global village.

The present day McLuhan Centre wants to recapture the global imagination of his communications theories. The resurgence started with the famous McLuhan “Monday Night Seminars” last year, where each week three special guests interact with a McLuhan Fellow moderator, and engage the assembled attendees from the university, the city, and from around the world .“City as Classroom” has been the broad theme, with the goal to engage academics, the city, business, industry, civil society, the arts, and public and private interest.

The Centre will further reconnect McLuhan to the City of Toronto, and build a larger global village, starting with the Heritage Board recognizing the Coach House’s place in history through a plaque unveiling on October 12.

For three days after, a global conference, Toronto School, Then Now, Next, will explore the value of leading Canadian thinkers and others, contemporaries that inspired the world.

“The goal is to explore how we inform innovative thinking and intellectual provocation in Toronto, and secure Canada’s place in forward-thinking and technological reconfigurations of culture,” says Prof. Seamus Ross, Interim Director of the McLuhan Centre.

“The conference will foster the making of an intellectual community that serves as a source of knowledgeable energy and encouragement for future research connections around the legacy of the Toronto School,” says Paolo Granata, McLuhan Centenary Fellow and Conference Chair.

Speakers include John Ralston Saul (Canada’s leading public intellectual), Mark Kingwell (Philosophy Professor),Joshua Meyrowitz (media theorist), Sara Diamond (President OCAD University), Arthur Kroker (public intellectual), Eric McLuhan (internationally known lecturer), and Gail Lord (Lord Cultural Resources).

EVENTS PLANNED (for a full event listing, please see

  • Wednesday, October 12, 12:00-1:00 pm, Toronto Heritage Plaque Unveiling (McLuhan Centre) with Kristyn Wong-Tam, City Councillor and Prof. Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto, among other speakers
  • Thursday, October 13, 5:30-7 pm, Lectio Magistralis by Paul Elie on “Glenn Gould and Marshall McLuhan” and opening of a Multi-Media Exhibition “McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions” (St. Michael’s College)
  • Friday, October 14, 9-9:30 am, opening ceremony The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next International Conference (Victoria College Building).
  • Sunday, October 16, 5:30-6:30 pm, Town Hall Meeting “Rethinking the Global Village in an era of Cities and Soft Power” at the Then, Now, Next International Conference (Isabel Bader Theatre).                   Source:

The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next International Conference, Toronto, October 13-16, 2016 
Categories: Blog

Seven Free Events at the Toronto School Conference, October 12 – 16

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 5:14pm

The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next International Conference is one week away, and there is an incredible line-up of free events, open to the public. Join us, and take part in the most exciting initiative we have ever organized. Register soon. It’s free, but seats are limited and will go to registrants first.

1.                                                                                                    mm_coachhouseplaqueWednesday OCT 12, 12 PM

TORONTO HERITAGE PLAQUE UNVEILING – Please join us at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology for a historic day: unveiling a heritage plaque dedicated to Marshall McLuhan and the Toronto School of Communication, in the Coach House building.
With Kristyn Wong-Tam, City Councillor, Prof. Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto,Michael McLuhan, among other speakers. Light refreshments will be provided.


2. Wednesday OCT 12, 6:30 PM


Lecture by Domenico Fiormonte, University of Roma 3.    Moderator: Paolo Granata
This lecture, in English, offers a critical introduction to the core technologies underlying the Internet from a humanistic perspective. Entrance: free.
Italian Cultural Institute, 496 Huron Street, Toronto. 

A Lectio Magistralis and a Multi-Media Exhibition
Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at St. Michael’s College.

UNVEILING, “PIED PIPERS ALL” painting by René Cera.

LECTIO MAGISTRALIS by PAUL ELIE –  The Makings of a Spirituality of Technology: Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan, and “Electronic Participation”. Reception to follow.
FREE EVENT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, (registration required)
Canada Room, Brennan Hall
St. Michael’s College, 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto

REGISTER NOW 4. Saturday OCT 15, 8:30 PM GLENN GOULD & THE TORONTO SCHOOL   –   WORDS, MUSIC, IMAGES                                                                                                 Alliance Française, 24 Spadina Road, Toronto
Fisher Rare Book Library, 120 St George St, Toronto
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
39A Queen’s Park Crescent East, Toronto

7.                                                                                                    rethinking-global-village


With Josh Basseches, Karen Carter, Rita Davies, Gail Lord, Namugenyi Kiwanuka, Mark Surman
Curated by David Nostbakken. Chair: Gail Lord

Sunday OCT 16, 5:30 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre, 91 Charles Street West, Toronto (FREE EVENT)

This Town Hall Meeting enthusiastically throws open the door to the city. The City will be the “Toronto School” classroom for the evening. Here members of the class will explore the influences of soft power in civic discourse, cultural change and collective intelligence. For the last year the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology has been engaged in a community building exercise of consultations, Monday Night Seminars, workshops, labs and salons under the banner of “City as Classroom”. These activities and the Town Hall Meeting are designed to embrace the shaping influence of arts, cultural, civil society, business and industry and emerging communities within the city. From the Town Hall to the halls of learning and back again, the Toronto School will be envisioned as a sustainable and value force having found its place in the city and the global community that has congregated in Toronto for the conference.

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