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What Marshall McLuhan Might say About Trump on TV

McLuhan Galaxy - 2 hours 29 min ago

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 - 5:33pm

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 - 7:13pm

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 - 1:27pm


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 - 8:12pm


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 - 10:21am


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 - 7:49pm

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 - 6:14pm

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.

Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan, W.H. Auden & Buckminster Fuller Debate the Virtues of Modern Technology & Media (1971)

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 11:39pm

Commentary by Colin Marshall

45 years ago, four eminences took the stage at the University of Toronto: Irish actor Jack MacGowran, best known for his interpretations of Samuel Beckett; English poet and dramatist W.H. Auden; American architect and theorist of humanity’s way of life Buckminster Fuller; and Canadian literary scholar turned media technology oracle Marshall McLuhan. Now only did all four men come from different countries, they came from very different points on the intellectual and cultural map. The CBC recorded them for broadcast on its long-running series Ideas, prefacing it with an announcement that “the ostensible subject of their discussion is theatre and the visual arts.”

Key wordostensible“That topic is soon forgotten as two modes of perception clash,” says the announcer, “that of Professor McLuhan, who is one of the most famous interpreters of contemporary 20th-century cultural trends, and that of W.H. Auden, who cheerfully admits to being ‘a 19th-century man’ and sees no reason to change.” And so, though Fuller and MacGowan do occasionally provide their perspective, the panel turns into a rollicking debate between McLuhan and Auden, more or less from the point where the former — making one of his characteristically compelling proclamations — declares that modern media brings us to a world in which “there is no audience. There are only actors.” But the latter objects: “I profoundly disapprove of audience participation.”

By the early 1970s, television had long since found its way into homes all across America, Canada, and Britain, but the thinkers of the time had only just begun to grapple with its consequences. “We’ve just seen Apollo 14, which has some visual effects going with it. It’s a new type of theater, obviously,” says McLuhan, drawing one of many audience laughs. On the subject of television’s conflation of fact and fiction, Auden doesn’t mince words: “I think TV is a very, very wicked medium. That’s all I can say.” McLuhan emphasizes that, as a professional observer of these phenomena, “I have steadfastly reserved moral judgment on all media matters.” Auden: “I don’t.”

Yet the author of The Age of Anxiety and the author of The Gutenberg Galaxy turn out to have more in common than their conflict might suggest. Both in their 60s by the time of this discussion (“Thank God I can remember the world before World War I,” says the poet) and both 1930s converts to Catholicism, they also both harbored deep suspicions of technologies like television. Auden, who insists he would never dream of owing a TV set himself, seems to look down on it as merely lowbrow, but McLuhan has darker suspicions: “You are missing the name of the game, sir. You are actually imagining that those little images you see on TV are TV. They are not. What is TV is that fire stream pouring out of that tube into your gut.”

Even while predicting still-unheard-of advances in televisual technology (at one point attempting to engage MacGowran on “the immediate prospect of four- and five-dimensional TV”), McLuhan also foresees it as the potential spark for such cataclysms as a global race war, going so far as to suggest that “if you want to save a fantastic bloodbath on this planet, which will be very traumatic, very cathartic, and very tragic — in the Greek sense — we turn off TV totally. For good.” Auden, of course, actually approves of that particular idea of McLuhan’s, though he evinces little optimism about its feasibility. “Why won’t it happen?” asks McLuhan. “Because people like the damn things,” he replies. Source:

Related Content:

Marshall McLuhan on the Stupidest Debate in the History of Debating (1976)

The Visionary Thought of Marshall McLuhan, Introduced and Demystified by Tom Wolfe

McLuhan Said “The Medium Is The Message”; Two Pieces Of Media Decode the Famous Phrase

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

DAY 4 - Auden             Jack MacGowran
           W.H. Auden                            Jack MacGowran

Categories: Blog

Major New Book Announcement – Remediating McLuhan by Richard Cavell

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 11:38am

Remediating McLuhan While current scholarly interest has assured McLuhan’s foundational status as media theorist, it has by no means exhausted the import of his writings, which take on additional layers in the current digital moment. This collection of essays argues that it was McLuhan’s confrontation of the bios that was the distinguishing feature of his media theory and the source of its most consistent problematic. Holding that media were extensions of the human, McLuhan also posited that the human was a product of technology. Remediating McLuhan ranges over media theory, art history, bio-technology and deep history in addressing this problematic, and discusses McLuhan in the context of Flusser and Turing, Carl Woese and Daniel Lord Smail. Published by: Amsterdam University Press   –   ISBN: 9789089649508   –   Release date: 15-10-2016   –   Edition: Hardback   –   Pages: 202 Series: Recursions   –   Author: Richard Cavell (Source: ) Will be distributed in North America by University of Chicago Books, Cloth $99.00, February 2017. For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada. ( ) About Richard Cavell

Richard CavellRichard Cavell is the author of McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography (2002), which articulated the spatial turn in media studies and McLuhan’s foundational role within it. Professor Cavell has also published the critical performance piece Marinetti Dines with the High Command (2014) and Remediating McLuhan (2016). He is the editor of Love, Hate and Fear in Canada’s Cold War(2004), co-editor (with Peter Dickinson) of Sexing the Maple: A Canadian Sourcebook (2006), co-editor (with Imre Szeman) of the special double issue of the Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies (2007) on “Cultural Studies in Canada,” editor of On the Nature of Media (2016), and curator of the website , and has published more than 70 chapters, articles and reviews. His work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Romanian and Japanese. Professor Cavell has been a faculty member of the universities of Padua and Bologna, and has given invited lectures internationally. Professor Cavell’s research has been funded by the Canada Council, the Canada Research Fellowships, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Killam Trusts, and the UBC Hampton Fund.  Professor Cavell is joint Founding Editor of the award-winning Cultural Spaces series at the University of Toronto Press (1999-2009); co-founder and Chair pro tem of the Bachelor in Media Studies Program at UBC;  founder of the UBC International Canadian Studies Center; a Founding Board Member of the UBC School of Journalism;  one of the founders of the Canadian Association for Cultural Studies; a member of the committee that founded the Critical Studies in Sexuality Program at the University of British Columbia; Past President of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association; and a member of the Editorial Board of the Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de la Littérature Comparée.  Prof. Cavell was Academic Convenor of the 2008 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, the major academic event of UBC’s centennial year, and the largest conference in the history of UBC and the Federation, with over 9,000 delegates in attendance. (Source: )

Categories: Blog

Explorations: Studies in Culture & Communication (1953 – 1957) To be Republished Soon

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 10/01/2016 - 11:24am


Explorations: Studies in Culture & Communication, Volumes 1 to 8

Explorations: Studies in Culture & Communication, Volumes 1 through 8 will be available again after 60 years of being out-of-print! When? The re-publication will be formally announced at the Toronto School of Communication Conference, October 13 – 16 at the University of Toronto (see the conference posting, the third post below). If copies are available for display, they will be displayed at the conference. If not yet ready, the new editions will be available in a matter of  weeks. The publication will be announced on this blog and on social media as soon as the volumes appear.

“Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication, principally edited by Edmund (“Ted”) Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan, was the first postwar journal to engage directly with the new “grammars” of the mid-century new media of communication. Launched in Toronto in 1953, at the very moment that television made its national début in Canada, Explorations presented a mosaic of approaches to contemporary media culture and became the texts in which McLuhan and Carpenter first formulated their most striking insights about new media in the electric age. The extraordinary breadth of contributions to Explorations from leading thinkers across the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences makes this journal a founding publication in the now burgeoning field of media studies. Originally funded by a Ford Foundation grant, the eight co-edited issues of Explorations were issued from 1953 to 1957.

Scholars whose essays were published include Dorothy Lee, D.C. Williams, Jorge Luis Borges, e.e. Cummings, Joan Rayfield, Marjorie Adix, Millar McLure, Marshall McLuhan, Lawrence K. Frank, Stephen Gilman, Northrop Frye, Walter J. Ong, Edmund Carpenter, Francis Golffing, J. Tyrwhitt, J. Paul & J. Ogilvie, Robert G. Armstrong and others.

For more information about the original Explorations journal, see the following articles previously on this blog:-

2014 04 26 Explorations7c 345a

Explorations 7 and 8

Categories: Blog

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

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 12:38pm


ABS-CBN journalist Gigi Grande is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Marshall McLuhan fellowship sponsored by the Embassy of Canada.

By Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News

The award, named after the Canadian media and communications scholar, was given to Grande at the Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Seminar conducted by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in Makati.

Students and professionals also attended the seminar which tackled the 2016 elections media coverage, the Duterte administration, and human rights.

Five panelists – Rappler’s Michael Bueza, TV5’s Ed Lingao, Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Ryan Rosauro, Philippine Graphic’s Joel Pablo Salud, and ABS-CBN’s Gigi Grande – were selected to be part of the seminar, mainly for the body of work they produced during the 2016 elections, but not excluding their other journalistic output.

Grande produced special and in-depth reports covering the pre-2016 poll campaign and the election period for both online and television, including those that looked into the party-list system, campaign rules, social issues, and candidates’ character.

During the seminar, when asked the about the role of media in the campaign, Grande emphasized media’s task to “keep track of all the promises of candidates and fact-check it.” 

By being a McLuhan fellow, Grande will embark on a two-week familiarization and lecture tour of Canadian media and academic organizations, and later, a lecture tour in Philippine universities.

ABS-CBN’s veteran broadcast journalist Lynda Jumilla was awarded the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship in 2012.



Categories: Blog

B.W. Powe’s New Book of Poetry: Decoding Dust

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 6:07pm

Reading by B.W. Powe from his collection “Decoding Dust” published by NeoPoiesis Press

Technogenie by B.W. Powe 

Technogenie by B.W. Powe from NeoPoiesis Press on Vimeo.




Seas For Auxi


Hear more poems read by B.W. Powe here:

Some Advance Reviews:-

“What’s B.W. Powe: A Poet, an aphorist,a lyric philosopher-historian, a master of the post-modern-essay cybot…? Well, anyway, one of our best writers.” – A.F. Moritz, poet

“The man is oceanic—in intellectual breadth and interest, spiritual vision and pure, unshielded feeling… a third-eye on fire.” – Elana Wolff, Celebration of Canadian Poetry, Brick Books

“His words seem to emanate fully formed from the cosmos. Ecstatic moments, hair-raising lines.” – The Globe and Mail

Available from, Indigo Books Online, Select independent bookstores or the publisher NeoPoiesis Press

 Auxi y Bruce. Mazagón Junio 2013 Auxi y Bruce. Mazagón Junio 2013

B.W. Powe’s Website:

Categories: Blog

The Toronto School THEN | NOW | NEXT International Conference October 13-16, 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 6:01pm

THE TORONTO SCHOOL: THEN, NOW, NEXT International Conference, Toronto, October 13-16, 2016 JUST 3 WEEKS UNTIL IT BEGINS!……  “At the heart of that experiment [Canada] lies a continuous revolutionary approach toward communication. It is somehow spatial, not linear; it has been postmodern from the beginning. It was, and still is, there in First Nations philosophy. It took on a more or less Westernized form with Harold Innis, and from Innis sprouted Marshall McLuhan, who would find the words and language and gestures for people around the world to imagine themselves communicating in a different way. And remarkably, all of this was done long before most of the technology to make it possible existed. Out of what I would call the Toronto School – including, beyond Innis and McLuhan, people such as Glenn Gould and Northrop Frye – came a universal revolution in how we could think together”. – JOHN RALSTON SAUL, Introduction to Marshall McLuhan by Douglas Coupland (2009). Toronto: Penguin Canada. CONFERENCE KEYNOTE SPEAKER     

 An Intellectual Revolution

THEN   –   Between the 1930s and 1970s, a community of intellectuals emerged in and around the University of Toronto, and achieved international recognition for its innovative and trans-disciplinary approaches to the evolving societal challenges.

 NOW   –   The Toronto School: Then | Now | Next International Conference aims to bring together international scholars to engage in dialogue on the origins, rise, decline and the rebirth of the so-called Toronto School of Communication.

NEXT   –   Discussion will examine the extent to which the so-called Toronto School of Communication has provided a legacy that continues to offer insight on crucial and systemic issues facing contemporary society across various disciplines.

PARTIAL LIST OF CONFIRMED SPEAKERS:- William Buxton, Concordia University; Richard Cavel, University of British Columbia; Hart Cohen, Western Sydney University; Derrick De Kerckhove, University of Toronto; Sara Diamond, OCAD University; Paul Elie, Georgetown University; Bruce Elder, Ryerson University; Gary Genosko, University of Ontario; Brian Russell Graham, Aalborg University; Jerry Harp, Lewis & Clark College; Paul Heyer, Wilfrid Laurier University; Ursula Huws, University of Hertfordshire; Mark Kingwell, University of Toronto; Arthur Kroker, University of Victoria; Elena Lamberti, University of Bologna; Claude Le Fustec, Rennes 2 University; Paul Levinson, Fordham University; Mark Lipton, University of Guelph; Robert Logan, University of Toronto; Janine Marchessault, York University; Eric McLuhan, Independent Scholar; Joshua Meyrowitz, University of New Hampshire; B.W. Powe, York University; Erhard Schüttpelz, Siegen University; Rita Watson, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and more






1. A PHOTO-DOCUMENTARY EXHIBITION – John M. Kelly Library, October 13 – December 20, 2016


2. MCLUHAN ON CAMPUS: Local Inspirations, Global Visions – Opening October 13, 5:30 PM

Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at 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.

3. October 13 – 5:30 LECTIO MAGISTRALIS by PAUL ELIE – The Makings of a Spirituality of Technology: Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan, & “Electronic Participation”   –   Paul Elie is a Senior Fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Director of the American Pilgrimage Project, Georgetown University.



Art Museum, University of Toronto Art Centre, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto

The event is part of the exhibition “Form Follows Fiction: Art and Artists in Toronto”, curated by internationally renowned Toronto-based artist Luis Jacob. The exhibition concentrates on a period of more than fifty years to consider the ways in which artists visualize Toronto. It is a constellation of symbolic forms, or memes, persisting in the work of artists of different generations – a panorama of the blueprints that artists have drafted over many decades to give form to life in Canada’s largest city.



OCTOBER 15, 7:30 PM   –   Alliance Française, 24 Spadina Road, Toronto

Hosted by the Alliance Française, in collaboration with the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, and the Glenn Gould Foundation, this event is conceived as a moving an engaging evening of pictures, performances, and conversations. It will reflect on Gould’s relationship to Marshall McLuhan and the so-called Toronto School of Communication. This multimedia occasion will feature prominent commentators, musical performances, and screenings that will enable to reconsider and assess the unique legacy of one of the twentieth century’s most renowned and internationally acclaimed Canadians.



OCTOBER 15, 7:30 PM   –   Fisher Rare Book Library, 120 St George St, Toronto

Hosted and organized in collaboration with the Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. The foundational ideas of three key figures of the Toronto School can be found on the St. George campus of the University of Toronto: the Harold Innis fonds, housed at the University Archives; Marshall McLuhan’s heavily annotated working library, held at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library; and the Northrop Frye fonds at the E.J. Pratt Library of Victoria University. This special open house at the Fisher is a rare opportunity to view highlights – including original manuscripts, correspondence, and books – from all three collections.



OCTOBER 15, 7:30 PM   –   McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queen’s Park Crescent East, Toronto

Co-curated by Michael Darroch, Hart Cohen, Paul Heyer and Janine Marchessault, in collaboration with the estate of Edmund Carpenter. This public presentation will showcase a selection of interviews, collaborative film experiments, and archival materials representing Carpenter’s lifework in research scholarship and pedagogy before and after his collaborations with McLuhan.

All things to do in Toronto

Categories: Blog

From The Second Storey: Print is now Counterculture

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:21am
The Next 40 Years Ed Video symposium Ed Video Guelph Symposium on the Future of Media, October 1 Andrew McLuhan, grandson of 1960s communications guru Marshall McLuhan, will be speaking during the Ed Video tribute on Saturday, Oct. 1

Print is dead? Think again, says McLuhan. That’s Andrew McLuhan, grandson of 1960s communications guru Marshall McLuhan.

“Print’s not dead, it’s just that the role has changed,” says Andrew.

McLuhan is speaking over the phone this past weekend from Prince Edward County, where he lives with his wife and two kids and runs an antique upholstery business – and ponders his next project honouring his grandfather’s legacy.

“Print is counterculture instead of the mainstream culture,” says McLuhan. “Its role has changed but it’s still vital. It has a newly avant-garde status.” 

andrew mcluhanAndrew McLuhan. Photo provided.

That’s a media message that would likely tickle David J. Knight, Guelph-based archeologist, writer and editor.

Late this month, Knight will launch the inaugural issue of an art magazine called XAGGERA. His new project will be released Sept. 30 as part of a two-day event marking the 40th anniversary of Ed Video Media Arts Centre in Guelph.

On Oct. 1, Ed Video will play host to an afternoon symposium about the future of media. That event will include McLuhan, who plans to discuss his recent project of cataloguing his grandfather’s library.

“Fringe” is how Knight describes the mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and visual art contained in XAGGERA’s inaugural 54-page issue.

“It’s for anybody who gets really bored with the standard uniformity of arts, writing, festivals, where everything is crystallized, uniform, identifiable,” he says. “I like these areas on the fringe. It’s vaporized, moving.”

The issue is being released by Fenylalanine Publishing, run by Knight.

Formed just over a year ago, Fenylalanine Publishing has released a series of 23 short online works mostly by Guelph-area writers and artists.

Topics have included These Are My Streets, a collection of Guelph neighbourhood reflections by Jeremy Luke Hill; a monograph on sixteenth-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe by Knight; Ink and Pen, a collection of drawings and poems by U.K. artist Marsha Robbins; and A Life in Painting, a photo essay about the work of Guelph artist Sona Mincoff.

The new magazine brings together works by 22 contributors, including poet John Nyman, artists Clara Engel and Garth Laidlaw, and writer Bieke Stengos.

20160915 EdVideo roScott McGovern of Ed Video, trying out Google Cardboard. Photo provided.

One essay was written by Scott McGovern, program manager with Ed Video. The media arts centre relocated from downtown to the Ward neighbourhood in 2014.

The centre trains people to use video and multimedia. McGovern says video emerged in the 1970s as the “ultimate democratic art medium.”

Today, he says, video still holds that distinction. Just look at YouTube. “Anyone with a cellphone camera can have an idea today and 20 million fans tomorrow,” he says.

While planning this fall’s event, McGovern asked Andrew McLuhan to be the keynote speaker. Says McGovern, “He’s the embodiment of [Marshall] McLuhan’s ideas in today’s world.”

Now 38, Andrew spent much of 2009-10 cataloguing his grandfather’s personal library of 6,000 volumes. The collection resides at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, where Marshall was an English professor.

Google the word “McLuhan” and you find millions of hits for the late communications theorist, along with links to “global village” and “the medium is the message” — both coined by Marshall.

marshall mcluhanMarshall McLuhan.

Marshall died when Andrew was a year old. When circumstance led Andrew to begin poring over Marshall’s library, he began to detect what he calls “the ripples of his grandfather’s presence” through the marginalia scrawled throughout his heavily annotated volumes.

“Here, in between the pages of his books, is the distilled essence of his thought in micro-annotations. It’s a really profound thing,” says Andrew.

“He was a practical guy, and his books were tools. A craftsman doesn’t generally keep around tools that aren’t useful. If he has a book, it’s because it’s important or meaningful to his work. It’s possible to think of some of those authors as his collaborators.”

Andrew detailed some of those “collaborations” in a blog kept during his inventory project. Marshall had so much to say to James Joyce about Finnegan’s Wake that he ended up scribbling marginalia over four copies of the novel.

In an edition of James McCrimmon’s From Source to Statement, Andrew found a handwritten comment by McLuhan about the genesis of “the medium is the message.”

McCrimmon’s volume contained a reprint of the first chapter of McLuhan’s n, his 1964 book about media theory. That chapter, titled The Medium Is the Message, lays out McLuhan’s idea about the importance of the communications medium as well as its content.

Written in that reprinted chapter were McLuhan’s words: “I first uttered this statement at a radio broadcasters’ conference in 1958. I was arguing then that television could not end radio.”

“That was a thrilling find, and an example of one of the various uses of McLuhan’s library,” says Andrew, who also discovered a previously unknown letter from Ezra Pound to his grandfather tucked in a volume of T.S. Eliot’s poetry. “A lot of these annotations were perfect Tweets.”

McLuhan has discussed his grandfather’s work in elementary and high school classrooms. His workshop there focuses on Marshall’s “figure and ground” discussion of the context of media technology.

Ask kids to talk about what’s needed for their smartphones to work, and you’ve got a natural entry into discussing ideas about the media landscape and the ubiquitousness of communications technologies, he says. “It’s amazing to see nine- and 10-year-olds picking up these topics with complete ease.”

During his Guelph talk, Andrew plans to involve his audience in a similar exercise. He will also discuss potential plans for further McLuhan studies, including an idea for a new media studies program.

Cataloguing Marshall’s library was a bittersweet exercise. “It made me wish I had known the guy. It’s like reading somebody’s diary or journal. They’re being frank or genuine.

“There’s a vulnerability and honesty there. It made me miss the guy. What would Marshall think about this or that?”

Andrew McLuhan will speak during the Ed Video tribute Saturday, Oct. 1, noon to 9 p.m, at 404 York Rd.

The release of EXAGGERA – and screenings from the Ed Video archives – will take place Sept. 30 beginning at 9 p.m. at the ANAF building on Gordon St.

For more information, visit

Story source:

Categories: Blog

Invitation to attend Heritage Toronto Plaque Unveiling for the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 8:06pm


Click image to enlarge for readability

Dear Colleagues,
We are pleased to inform you that over the summer we have worked with Heritage Toronto to develop a plaque (below) to be affixed to the front surface of the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology.
The unveiling of this plaque will take place on October 12, 2016 at 12:00 noon at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, 39A Queen’s Park Crescent E. Toronto. Light refreshments are provided.
We would like to invite you to attend this function overseen by Heritage Toronto with participation of senior University of Toronto officials, and a number of other figures including Michael McLuhan the Executive Director of the McLuhan Estate.
Join us to celebrate a landmark moment.
This unveiling is in prelude to a global conference Toronto School, Then Now, Next where some of you are participating and all are welcome.  This conference as you know   is exploring the value of leading Canadian thinkers, Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis, Northrop Frey, Eric Havelock, Glen Gould and others, contemporaries that inspired the world and came collectively to be called the Toronto School of Communication. This conference honours these thinkers, but more importantly looks to the here and now and the future. 
Much is happening at the McLuhan Centre these days. We are pleased you are a part of it.
Best Wishes,
David Nostbakken PhD
McLuhan Centenary Fellow
Visiting Fellow, University of St. Michael’s College
Seamus Ross
Interim Director
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
iSchool, University of Toronto
613 296 6692 (C)
416 978 7026 (O)
416 978 7343 (O)



Categories: Blog

Glenn Gould & the giants of the Toronto School of Communication

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 12:33pm



McLuhan and Glenn Gould were friends

(Image: Courtesy of the Estate of Marshall McLuhan)

by  – August 6, 2016 

Between the 1930s and 1970s, a remarkable intellectual climate coalesced within and around the University of Toronto when intellectual giants Harold Innis, Eric Havelock, Northrop Frye, Marshall McLuhan, and Glenn Gould, among others, captured the global imagination. This scholarly community came to be known as “The Toronto School of Communication”, achieving international recognition for their innovative and trans-disciplinary approaches to emerging social and cultural challenges.

On October 13-16, 2016 the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, in conjunction with numerous academic and cultural institutions will present an International Conference and a series of cultural initiatives titled “The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next”. The event aims to foster scholarly interest, research and public discourse to stimulate insight into some of the world’s most important questions and challenges that face humanity in the 21st century.

Paolo Granata, Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto and Conference Chair, said: The conference will take an historical look at a remarkable intellectual season sparked within the City of Toronto, when Innis, Frye, McLuhan, and Glenn Gould among others, took the world by storm. Building on this look at what was, the conference will look at our current quickly changing context and cast our prospects for the future”.

On October 15, 2016, as part of the initiative, The Glenn Gould Foundation, in collaboration with the Alliance Française and the Faculty of Music at the UofT, will present “Glenn Gould and the Toronto School: Words, Music, Images”. Conceived as a moving and engaging evening of pictures, performances, and conversations, this multimedia event will feature prominent commentators, musical performances, and screenings that will illuminate, celebrate and reassess the unique legacy of Glenn Gould and the giants of the Toronto School. Source: )

Toronto School Conference Link:

Glenn Gould and the giants of the Toronto School of Communication

Photo: Estate of Jock Carroll

Categories: Blog

Addendum to: René Cera’s Mural Painting “Pied Piper’s All” (1969) is Returning to St. Michael’s College

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 09/11/2016 - 7:19pm

 René Cera

Addendum: September 11, 2016

In a Google Group message from Rome on this date Eric McLuhan writes:

Just a note of correction or two:  The piece by Cera was always three sections. They were put together and painted that way – so to say it was “cut into three pieces” is not accurate. When the Centre was shut down, the painting was taken to St. Michael’s and ‘stored’ in a hallway above the library there, just leaning against the wall. It was not taken away and stored in a barn in the country, but remained at the University of Toronto.
Best wishes from Rome,
– Andrew and Eric McLuhan

My Reply: My source for that apparent misinformation is a short article published online by U of T, with the author, unfortunately, unnamed. Here it is in its entirety:

Still Life with Fruit it’s Not
Created in 1969 for media guru Marshall McLuhan by his friend René Cera, Pied Pipers All is a wall-sized, psychedelic interpretation of an era in the midst of extreme technological and cultural change.

Unlike many people on campus at the time, Cera actually understood McLuhan’s ideas, interpreting the siren call of television as a frenzied dance of seduction and confusion.

But in 1979, McLuhan suffered a stroke, and the pipers fell silent. With the great communicator unable to speak, the administration decided to close his beloved classroom. The painting was sliced into three pieces and stored in a country barn while McLuhanites such as Pierre Trudeau and Woody Allen rallied for the centre to come back to life – which it did in 1983 as the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.

Thank you, Andrew and Eric for correcting that published misinformation. It seems to me that it doesn’t much matter whether the mural was cut into 3 pieces after the closing of the Centre in 1979, presumably for storage purposes, or whether it originated in 3 pieces and was painted and mounted that way. Thank you for setting the record straight. But do you know for certain that the painting was “‘stored’ in a hallway above the [Fisher] library there, just leaning against the wall,” from 1979 until this year? That’s 36 or 37 years! Perhaps U of T moved it to a storage barn at some later date without your knowing. Again, it doesn’t much matter now that the painting is refurbished and soon will be back.

Either way, the disposition of this historically important painting shows scant respect for the artist, the U of T Centre for Culture and Technology for which it was created and its late Director, or the taxpayers’ money that was used to pay for it. That is a shame and I hope the University of Toronto’s recent largesse in supporting the McLuhan legacy at the University of Toronto in the form of the McLuhan Centre and its ambitious programming represents a measure of compensation for past neglect. Let’s hope that the institutional support continues.

Thank you again. And safe travels home………Alex Kuskis

Buckminster Fuller and McLuhan

Buckminster Fuller & Marshall McLuhan in front of René Cera’s painting Pied Pipers All (Image: Dick Darrell/Getstock)


Categories: Blog

René Cera’s Mural Painting “Pied Piper’s All” (1969) is Returning to St. Michael’s College

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 09/10/2016 - 7:12pm

“Pied Pipers All” by René Cera (1895 – 1992)

René Cera’s Dance of Media Seduction

René Alexandre Paul Cera was born in Nice, France, on April 15, 1895. An artist from the start, his biography describes him delivering messages to Renoir, sketching with Matisse while studying art and architecture at the Nice School of Art. Tasked to carry messages from the school’s director to Pierre August Renoir, Cera later stated that “Renoir was a genius but by the time I met him, he was almost crippled by rheumatism and was painting with the brush strapped to his fingers.”

He came to Canada in 1928 to take charge of architectural design for Canada’s largest department store chain, T. Eaton Company, for one year. But he remained in Canada for 32 years, during which time in 1969 he created “Pied Pipers All” as a mural for Marshall McLuhan’s Centre for Culture and Technology. It was his take on “the medium is the message” and the siren call of electronic media, especially television, as a one-eyed dance of seduction and perturbation.

In 1979 after Marshall McLuhan suffered a stroke, which ended his teaching career, the University of Toronto closed his Centre for Culture and Technology, despite international and local protests and appeals. Cera’s mural was cut into 3 sections, thereby making it a triptych, which was stored in a barn in the country. Due to continuing appeals from McLuhan supporters that included Buckminster Fuller, Tom Wolfe, Woody Allen and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau the Centre was reopened in 1983 as the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.

Today the painting has been refurbished and will be restored to public view at St. Michael’s College with the unveiling scheduled for Thursday, October 13 at 5:30 PM at the start of the International Toronto School of Communication conference (see below).




PLACE: Brennan Hall, St. Michael’s College, 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto              

DATE & TIME: Thursday, October 13 at 5:30 PM

To be followed at 6:00 PM by Lectio Magistralis
Paul Elie on “The Makings of a Spirituality of Technology:
Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan, and ‘Electronic Participation'”
Reception to follow (John M. Kelly Library, 113 St. Joseph Street, Toronto)

Paul Elie is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University and the author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own (2003). He writes for Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Commonweal, The Atlantic,, and He lives in Brooklyn.
Registration required

Photograph of Professors Arthur Porter and Marshall McLuhan, with artist René Cera, admiring Cera’s mural PIED PIPER ALL, Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto, 1969. Photograph by Robert Lansdale Professors Arthur Porter and Marshall McLuhan, with artist René Cera, admiring Cera’s mural “Pied Pipers All,” the Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto, 1969. Photograph by Robert Lansdale ********** For the symbolism of the Pied Piper of Hamelin see the story upon which the Grimm brothers based their tale: **********

From “An Artist of the Highest Order: René Cera of Lenox”     

After Cera retired, he spent most of his time painting. Among several large murals dating from this period was “Pied Pipers All,” which he created for the late Marshall McLuhan’s Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. This work echoes McLuhan’s sentiment: ”The media is the message.”

An article written in the August, 1971 issue of Mademoiselle mentioned the mural but attributes it to someone else. McLuhan corrected this misconception, writing, ”The 9′ by 12′ mural in the seminar room was not made by Buckminster Fuller, but René Cera, a French painter and architect. The theme of the painting is ”T.V. in Action” with the tube in the centre and the psychedelic images surrounding it. The title is “Pied Pipers All” since Cera saw that the tube was alienating the young from a generation of elders who had no thought of paying the piper for the latest technological caper”. McLuhan continued, ‘‘This is a splendid and impressive painting by a great craftsman whose prolific work has been bottled up in Canada.”

McLuhan and Cera were friends, together with McLuhan’s wife Corinne and Betty Trott, whom Cera married in 1966. (Mrs. Cera now uses the name “Liz.”) In a letter dated January 22, 1952, McLuhan wrote, “Cera just left. He brought over one of his best pictures to us. Had made the frame himself specially … He is a lot of fun. Very, very lively and facetiously egotistical in his talk. A walking mass of contradictions, paradoxes and conundrums which he likes to tumble out for everybody’s amusement.” (Access the full biographical pdf article at )

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Eric & Andrew McLuhan to speak at John Cabot University in Rome

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 1:42pm
Department of Communications and Guarini Institute Present: Maintaining the Legacy of Marshall McLuhan Place: John Cabot University, Via della Lungara 233, Roma, in UTC+02

Date & Time: Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30 PM – 9 PM Eric and Andrew McLuhan (son and grandson of late-Marshall McLuhan) will interact with the audience in a general discussion of “the McLuhan legacy,” with a focus on the use and abuse of McLuhan ideas past and present, the efforts to keep McLuhan relevant, and where to go from here. Bios: Dr. Eric McLuhan B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D. – Communication, Wisconsin State University, 1972 M.A., Ph.D. – English Lit., University of Dallas, 1980, 1982. 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. His research and thinking has been published in books, magazines, and journals covering topics such as media, communications, perception, and literature since 1964. Recently published work include On Media Ecology (Explorations in Media Ecology, Vol. 5, No. 3), Theories of Communication (Peter Lang, 2011), and Media and Formal Cause (NeoPoesis Press, 2011), Cynic Satire (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015) and The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul (BPS Books, 2015). Formerly, he is Director, Media Studies at The Harris Institute for the Arts in Toronto, Canada. Currently, he is retired from active teaching, and is hard at work. For more information, visit . Andrew McLuhan Has been assisting his father Eric McLuhan on a part-time basis since around 2009. His major McLuhan project to date was the initial inventory and evaluation of Marshall McLuhan’s ‘working library’ (see, and he has had occasion to deliver several lectures on that topic. (see: In addition to assisting his father on speaking trips, Andrew studies on a very part-time basis with his father’s guidance, the work of the McLuhans. He writes about media criticism at: He has a wife and two small boys and runs a small bespoke upholstery business in Prince Edward County, Canada by day. Source: John Cabot University in Rome, Italy
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