Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan

Overview
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

, a literary critic
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

, a rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

ian, and a communication theorist
Communication theory
Communication theory is a field of information and mathematics that studies the technical process of information and the human process of human communication.- History :- Origins :...

. McLuhan's work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory
Media studies
Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.

McLuhan is known for coining the expressions "the medium is the message
The medium is the message
"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.- Publications :...

" and "the global village
Global Village (term)
Global Village is a term closely associated with Marshall McLuhan, popularized in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man and Understanding Media . McLuhan described how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of...

" and predicted the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 almost thirty years before it was invented.
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Quotations

The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.

p. 43

The world of visual perspective is one of unified and homogeneous space. Such a world is alien to the resonating diversity of spoken words. So language was the last art to accept the visual logic of Gutenberg technology, and the first to rebound in the electric age.

p. 136

Throughout Finnegans Wake|Finnegans Wake James Joyce|Joyce specifies the Tower of Babel as the tower of Sleep, that is, the tower of the witless assumption, or what Francis Bacon|Bacon calls the reign of the Idols.

p.183

The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers.

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.

Art is anything you can get away with.

Encyclopedia
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

, a literary critic
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

, a rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

ian, and a communication theorist
Communication theory
Communication theory is a field of information and mathematics that studies the technical process of information and the human process of human communication.- History :- Origins :...

. McLuhan's work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory
Media studies
Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.

McLuhan is known for coining the expressions "the medium is the message
The medium is the message
"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.- Publications :...

" and "the global village
Global Village (term)
Global Village is a term closely associated with Marshall McLuhan, popularized in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man and Understanding Media . McLuhan described how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of...

" and predicted the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 almost thirty years before it was invented. Although he was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, his influence started to wane in the early seventies. In the years after his death, he would continue to be a controversial figure in academic circles. With the arrival of the internet, however, there was renewed interest in his work and perspective.

Life and career


McLuhan was born in Edmonton
Edmonton
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and is the province's second-largest city. Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region, which is surrounded by the central region of the province.The city and its census...

, Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, to Elsie Naomi (née
Married and maiden names
A married name is the family name adopted by a person upon marriage. When a person assumes the family name of her spouse, the new name replaces the maiden name....

 Hall) and Herbert Ernest McLuhan. His brother, Maurice, was born two years later. "Marshall" was a family name: his maternal grandmother's surname. Both of his parents were born in Canada. His mother was a Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 schoolteacher who later became an actress. His father was a Methodist
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 and had a real estate business in Edmonton. When war
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 broke out, the business failed, and McLuhan's father enlisted in the Canadian army
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

. After a year of service he contracted influenza and remained in Canada, away from the front. After Herbert's discharge from the army in 1915, the McLuhan family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where Marshall grew up and went to school, attending Kelvin Technical School
Kelvin High School
Kelvin High School is a public high school, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.-History:Founded in 1912 as Kelvin Technical High School, the name was later shortened to Kelvin High School. The school is named after the mathematical physicist and engineer Sir William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin of...

 before enrolling in the University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba
The University of Manitoba , in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the largest university in the province of Manitoba. It is Manitoba's most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. It was founded in 1877, making it Western Canada’s first university. It placed...

 in 1928.

At Manitoba, McLuhan explored his conflicted relationship with religion and turned to literature to gratify his soul's hunger for truth and beauty, later referring to this stage to as agnosticism
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

. McLuhan earned a BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 (1933)—winning a University Gold Medal in Arts and Sciences—and MA
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 (1934) in English
English studies
English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language , English linguistics English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S.,...

 from the University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba
The University of Manitoba , in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the largest university in the province of Manitoba. It is Manitoba's most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. It was founded in 1877, making it Western Canada’s first university. It placed...

, after a one year stint as an engineering major. He had long desired to pursue graduate studies in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and, having failed to secure a Rhodes scholarship
Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford. It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the "world's most prestigious scholarship" by many public sources such as...

 to Oxford, McLuhan was accepted for enrollment at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

. Although he already had earned BA and MA degrees at Manitoba, Cambridge required him to enroll as an undergraduate "affiliated" student, with one year's credit toward a three-year Cambridge Bachelor's degree, before any doctoral studies. He entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Trinity Hall is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. It is the fifth-oldest college of the university, having been founded in 1350 by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich.- Foundation :...

 in the Fall of 1934, where he studied under I. A. Richards
I. A. Richards
Ivor Armstrong Richards was an influential English literary critic and rhetorician....

 and F. R. Leavis
F. R. Leavis
Frank Raymond "F. R." Leavis CH was an influential British literary critic of the early-to-mid-twentieth century. He taught for nearly his entire career at Downing College, Cambridge.-Early life:...

, and was influenced by New Criticism
New Criticism
New Criticism was a movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century. It emphasized close reading, particularly of poetry, to discover how a work of literature functioned as a self-contained, self-referential aesthetic...

. Upon reflection years after, he credited the faculty there with influencing the direction of his later work because of their emphasis on the training of perception and such concepts as Richards' notion of feedforward. These studies formed an important precursor to his later ideas on technological forms. He received his bachelor's degree from Cambridge in 1936 and began graduate work. Later, he returned from England to take a job as a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin–Madison
The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It became a land-grant institution in 1866...

, which he held for the 1936–37 academic year, unable to find a suitable job in Canada.

While studying the trivium at Cambridge he took the first steps toward his eventual conversion to Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in 1937, founded on his reading of G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

. In 1935 he wrote to his mother: "[H]ad I not encountered Chesterton, I would have remained agnostic for many years at least". At the end of March 1937, McLuhan completed what was a slow but total conversion process when he was formally received into the Roman Catholic Church. After consulting with a minister, his father accepted the decision to convert; his mother, however, felt that his conversion would hurt his career and was inconsolable. McLuhan was devout throughout his life, but his religion remained a private matter. He had a lifelong interest in the number three—the trivium, the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

—and sometimes said that the Virgin Mary provided intellectual guidance for him. For the rest of his career he taught in Roman Catholic institutions of higher education. From 1937 to 1944 he taught English at Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University is a private, co-educational Jesuit university located in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Founded in 1818 by the Most Reverend Louis Guillaume Valentin Dubourg SLU is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River. It is one of 28 member institutions of the...

 (with an interruption from 1939 to 1940 when he returned to Cambridge). At Saint Louis he tutored and befriended Walter J. Ong
Walter J. Ong
Father Walter Jackson Ong, Ph.D. , was an American Jesuit priest, professor of English literature, cultural and religious historian and philosopher. His major interest was in exploring how the transition from orality to literacy influenced culture and changed human consciousness...

, S.J. (1912–2003), who would go on to write his Ph.D. dissertation on a topic McLuhan had called to his attention, and who would himself also later become a well-known authority on communication and technology.

While in St. Louis, he also met his future wife. On August 4, 1939, McLuhan married teacher and aspiring actress Corinne Lewis (1912–2008) of Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

, and they spent 1939–40 in Cambridge, where he completed his master's degree (awarded in January 1940) and began to work on his doctoral dissertation on Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

 and the verbal arts. War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 had broken out in Europe while the McLuhans were in England, and he obtained permission to complete and submit his dissertation from the United States, without having to return to Cambridge for an oral defense. In 1940 the McLuhans returned to Saint Louis University, where he continued teaching and they started a family. He was awarded a Ph.D. in December 1943. Returning to Canada, from 1944 to 1946 McLuhan taught at Assumption College in Windsor, Ontario
Windsor, Ontario
Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

. Moving to Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 in 1946, McLuhan joined the faculty of St. Michael's College
University of St. Michael's College
The University of St. Michael's College is a college of the University of Toronto, founded in 1852 by the Congregation of St. Basil of Annonay, France. While mainly an undergraduate college for liberal arts and sciences, St. Michael's retains its Roman Catholic affiliation through its postgraduate...

, a Catholic college of the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

. Hugh Kenner
Hugh Kenner
William Hugh Kenner , was a Canadian literary scholar, critic and professor.Kenner was born in Peterborough, Ontario on January 7, 1923; his father taught classics...

 was one of his students and Canadian economist and communications scholar Harold Innis
Harold Innis
Harold Adams Innis was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history. The affiliated Innis College at the University of Toronto is named for him...

 was a university colleague who had a strong influence on McLuhan's work. McLuhan wrote in 1964: "I am pleased to think of my own book The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man is a book by Marshall McLuhan, in which he analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press, on European culture and human consciousness...

as a footnote to the observations of Innis on the subject of the psychic and social consequences, first of writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 then of printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

."

In the early 1950s, McLuhan began the Communication and Culture seminars, funded by the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

, at the University of Toronto. As his reputation grew, he received a growing number of offers from other universities and, to keep him, the university created the Centre for Culture and Technology in 1963. He published his first major work during this period: The Mechanical Bride
The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man is a pioneering study by Marshall McLuhan in the field now known as popular culture....

(1951) was an examination of the effect of advertising on society and culture. He also produced an important journal, Explorations, with Edmund Carpenter
Edmund Snow Carpenter
Edmund "Ted" Snow Carpenter was an anthropologist best known for his work on tribal art and visual media.-Early life:...

, throughout the 1950s. Together with Harold Innis
Harold Innis
Harold Adams Innis was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history. The affiliated Innis College at the University of Toronto is named for him...

, Eric A. Havelock
Eric A. Havelock
Eric Alfred Havelock was a British classicist who spent most of his life in Canada and the United States. He was a professor at the University of Toronto and was active in the Canadian socialist movement during the 1930s. In the 1960s and 1970s, he served as chair of the classics departments at...

, and Northrop Frye
Northrop Frye
Herman Northrop Frye, was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century....

, McLuhan and Carpenter have been characterized as the Toronto School of communication theory
Toronto School of communication theory
The Toronto School is a school of thought in communication theory and literary criticism, the principles of which were developed chiefly by scholars at the University of Toronto. It is characterized by exploration of Ancient Greek literature and the theoretical view that communication systems...

. McLuhan remained at the University of Toronto through 1979, spending much of this time as head of his Centre for Culture and Technology.

McLuhan was named to the Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

 Chair in Humanities at Fordham University
Fordham University
Fordham University is a private, nonprofit, coeducational research university in the United States, with three campuses in and around New York City. It was founded by the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841 as St...

 in the Bronx, New York, for one year (1967–68). While at Fordham, McLuhan was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor; it was treated successfully. He returned to Toronto, where, for the rest of his life, he worked at the University of Toronto and lived in Wychwood Park
Wychwood Park
Wychwood Park is a neighbourhood enclave and former gated community in Toronto, Canada. The small community is located north of Davenport Road and just west of Bathurst Street. It was founded as an artists colony in the late nineteenth century as a private project by painter Marmaduke Matthews...

, a bucolic enclave on a hill overlooking the downtown where Anatol Rapoport
Anatol Rapoport
Anatol Rapoport was a Russian-born American Jewish mathematical psychologist. He contributed to general systems theory, mathematical biology and to the mathematical modeling of social interaction and stochastic models of contagion.-Biography:...

 was his neighbour. In 1970, McLuhan was made a Companion of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

. In 1975 the University of Dallas
University of Dallas
The University of Dallas is a private, independent Catholic regional university located in Irving, Texas, established in 1956, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. According to U.S...

 hosted him from April to May, appointing him the McDermott Chair.

Marshall and Corinne McLuhan had six children: Eric
Eric McLuhan
Eric McLuhan is the son of well-known media theorist Marshall McLuhan and co-authored with him the books The Laws of Media and Media and Formal Cause....

, twins Mary and Teresa, Stephanie, Elizabeth and Michael. The associated costs of a large family eventually drove McLuhan to advertising work and accepting frequent consulting and speaking engagements for large corporations, IBM and AT&T among them. In September 1979 he suffered a stroke, which affected his ability to speak. The University of Toronto's School of Graduate Studies tried to close his research center shortly thereafter, but was deterred by substantial protests, most notably by Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

, in whose Oscar-winning motion picture Annie Hall
Annie Hall
Annie Hall is a 1977 American romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen from a screenplay co-written with Marshall Brickman and co-starring Diane Keaton. One of Allen's most popular and most honored films, it won four Academy Awards including Best Picture...

McLuhan had a cameo role: a pompous academic arguing with Allen in a cinema queue is squashed by McLuhan himself suddenly appearing to say, "You know nothing of my work." This was one of McLuhan's most frequently expressed statements to and about those who would disagree with him.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpIYz8tfGjY#t=01m45s

He never fully recovered from the stroke and died in his sleep on December 31, 1980.

Major works


During his years at Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University is a private, co-educational Jesuit university located in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Founded in 1818 by the Most Reverend Louis Guillaume Valentin Dubourg SLU is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River. It is one of 28 member institutions of the...

 (1937–1944), McLuhan worked concurrently on two projects: his doctoral dissertation and the manuscript that was eventually published in 1951 as the book The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, which included only a representative selection of the materials that McLuhan had prepared for it.

McLuhan's 1942 Cambridge University doctoral dissertation surveys the history of the verbal arts (grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

, logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

, and rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

—collectively known as the trivium) from the time of Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 down to the time of Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

. In his later publications, McLuhan at times uses the Latin concept of the trivium to outline an orderly and systematic picture of certain periods in the history of Western culture. McLuhan suggests that the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, for instance, was characterized by the heavy emphasis on the formal study of logic. The key development that led to the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 was not the rediscovery of ancient texts but a shift in emphasis from the formal study of logic to rhetoric and language. Modern life is characterized by the reemergence of grammar as its most salient feature—a trend McLuhan felt was exemplified by the New Criticism
New Criticism
New Criticism was a movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century. It emphasized close reading, particularly of poetry, to discover how a work of literature functioned as a self-contained, self-referential aesthetic...

 of Richards and Leavis.

In The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan turned his attention to analyzing and commenting on numerous examples of persuasion in contemporary popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

. This followed naturally from his earlier work as both dialectic and rhetoric in the classical trivium aimed at persuasion. At this point his focus shifted dramatically, turning inward to study the influence of communication media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 independent of their content. His famous aphorism
Aphorism
An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form.The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates...

 "the medium is the message" (elaborated in his 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man is a pioneering study in media theory written by Marshall McLuhan. In it McLuhan proposed that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study...

) calls attention to this intrinsic effect of communications media.

McLuhan also started the journal Explorations with anthropologist Edmund "Ted" Carpenter
Edmund Snow Carpenter
Edmund "Ted" Snow Carpenter was an anthropologist best known for his work on tribal art and visual media.-Early life:...

. In a letter to Walter Ong dated May 31, 1953, McLuhan reported that he had received a two-year grant of $43,000 from the Ford Foundation to carry out a communication project at the University of Toronto involving faculty from different disciplines, which led to the creation of the journal.

Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

 suggests that a hidden influence on McLuhan's work is the Catholic philosopher Teilhard de Chardin whose ideas anticipated those of McLuhan, especially the evolution of the human mind into the "noosphere
Noosphere
Noosphere , according to the thought of Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin, denotes the "sphere of human thought". The word is derived from the Greek νοῦς + σφαῖρα , in lexical analogy to "atmosphere" and "biosphere". Introduced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1922 in his Cosmogenesis"...

". Wolfe theorizes that McLuhan may have thought that association of his ideas with those of a Catholic theologian, albeit one suppressed by Rome, might have denied him the intellectual audience he wanted to reach and so omitted all reference of de Chardin from his published work, while privately acknowledging his influence.

The Mechanical Bride (1951)


McLuhan's first book, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man is a pioneering study by Marshall McLuhan in the field now known as popular culture....

(1951), is a pioneering study in the field now known as popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

. His interest in the critical study of popular culture was influenced by the 1933 book Culture and Environment by F.R. Leavis and Denys Thompson, and the title The Mechanical Bride is derived from a piece by the Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

ist artist, Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art...

.

Like his 1962 book The Gutenberg Galaxy, The Mechanical Bride is unique and composed of a number of short essays that can be read in any order—what he styled the "mosaic approach" to writing a book. Each essay begins with a newspaper or magazine article or an advertisement, followed by McLuhan's analysis thereof. The analyses bear on aesthetic considerations as well as on the implications behind the imagery and text. McLuhan chose the ads and articles included in his book not only to draw attention to their symbolism and their implications for the corporate entities that created and disseminated them, but also to mull over what such advertising implies about the wider society at which it is aimed.

Examples of advertisements

  • A nose for news and a stomach for whiskey: McLuhan analyzes an ad for Time Magazine in which he likens a reporter depicted as a romantic character from a Hemingway
    Ernest Hemingway
    Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

     novel and asks "Why is it [his] plangent duty to achieve cirrhosis
    Cirrhosis
    Cirrhosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease characterized by replacement of liver tissue by fibrosis, scar tissue and regenerative nodules , leading to loss of liver function...

     of the liver?"
  • Freedom to Listen—Freedom to Look: An ad for the Radio Corporation of America depicts a rural family doing their business with the radio on. Earlier in the Bride McLuhan notes "We still have our freedom to listen?" and here "Come on kiddies. Buy a radio and feel free—to listen."
  • For Men of Distinction—Lord Calvert: An ad for Lord Calvert whiskey depicts nine gentlemen holding a glass of their whiskey, while McLuhan notes the lack of non-artists amongst them; "Why pick on the arts? Hasn't anyone in science or industry ever distinguished himself by drinking whiskey?"
  • The Famous DuBarry Success Course: An ad for beauty creams complete with female model in a swimsuit hawks itself as a "success course" complete with "tuition", to which McLuhan asks, "Why laugh and grow fat when you can experience anguish and success in a strait jacket?"

The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)


McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man is a book by Marshall McLuhan, in which he analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press, on European culture and human consciousness...

(written in 1961, first published in Canada by University of Toronto Press
University of Toronto Press
University of Toronto Press is Canada's leading scholarly publisher and one of the largest university presses in North America. Founded in 1901, UTP has published over 6,500 books, with well over 3,500 of these still in print....

 in 1962) is a pioneering study in the fields of oral culture
Orality
Orality is thought and verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy are unfamiliar to most of the population. The study of orality is closely allied to the study of oral tradition...

, print culture
Print culture
Print culture embodies all forms of printed text and other printed forms of visual communication. One prominent scholar in the field is Elizabeth Eisenstein, who contrasted print culture, which appeared in Europe in the centuries after the advent of the Western printing-press , to scribal culture...

, cultural studies
Cultural studies
Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

, and media ecology
Media ecology
Media ecology is a contested term within media studies having different meanings within European and North American contexts. The North American definition refers to aninterdisciplinary field of media theory and media design involving the study of "symbolic environment, or the socially constructed,...

.

Throughout the book, McLuhan takes pains to reveal how communication technology (alphabet
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

ic writing, the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

, and the electronic media
Electronic media
Electronic media are media that use electronics or electromechanical energy for the end-user to access the content. This is in contrast to static media , which today are most often created electronically, but don't require electronics to be accessed by the end-user in the printed form...

) affects cognitive organization, which in turn has profound ramifications for social organization:
...[I]f a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new note is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent.

Movable type


His episodic history takes the reader from pre-alphabetic tribal humankind to the electronic age
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

. According to McLuhan, the invention of movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 greatly accelerated, intensified, and ultimately enabled cultural and cognitive changes that had already been taking place since the invention and implementation of the alphabet, by which McLuhan means phonemic orthography
Phonemic orthography
A phonemic orthography is a writing system where the written graphemes correspond to phonemes, the spoken sounds of the language. In terms of orthographic depth, these are termed shallow orthographies, contrasting with deep orthographies...

. (McLuhan is careful to distinguish the phonetic alphabet
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

 from logographic/logogramic writing systems, like hieroglyphics
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood...

 or ideograms.)

Print culture, ushered in by the Gutenberg press in the middle of the fifteenth century, brought about the cultural predominance of the visual over the aural/oral. Quoting with approval an observation on the nature of the printed word from Prints and Visual Communication by William Ivins, McLuhan remarks:
In this passage [Ivins] not only notes the ingraining of lineal, sequential habits, but, even more important, points out the visual homogenizing of experience of print culture, and the relegation of auditory and other sensuous complexity to the background. [...] The technology and social effects of typography incline us to abstain from noting interplay and, as it were, "formal" causality, both in our inner and external lives. Print exists by virtue of the static separation of functions and fosters a mentality that gradually resists any but a separative and compartmentalizing or specialist outlook.


The main concept of McLuhan's argument (later elaborated upon in The Medium is the Massage
The Medium is the Massage
The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is a book co-created by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel...

) is that new technologies (like alphabets, printing presses, and even speech itself) exert a gravitational effect on cognition, which in turn affects social organization: print technology changes our perceptual habits ("visual homogenizing of experience"), which in turn affects social interactions ("fosters a mentality that gradually resists all but a... specialist outlook"). According to McLuhan, the advent of print technology contributed to and made possible most of the salient trends in the Modern
Modern Age
Modern Age is an American conservative academic quarterly journal, founded in 1957 by Russell Kirk in close collaboration with Henry Regnery...

 period in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

: individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

, democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

. For McLuhan, these trends all reverberate with print technology's principle of "segmentation of actions and functions and principle of visual quantification."

The global village


In the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end by what he called "electronic interdependence": when electronic media
Electronic media
Electronic media are media that use electronics or electromechanical energy for the end-user to access the content. This is in contrast to static media , which today are most often created electronically, but don't require electronics to be accessed by the end-user in the printed form...

 replace visual culture
Visual culture
Visual Culture as an academic subject is a field of study that generally includes some combination of cultural studies, art history, critical theory, philosophy, and anthropology, by focusing on aspects of culture that rely on visual images.- Overview :...

 with aural/oral culture. In this new age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a "tribal base." McLuhan's coinage for this new social organization is the global village
Global Village (term)
Global Village is a term closely associated with Marshall McLuhan, popularized in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man and Understanding Media . McLuhan described how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of...

.

The term is sometimes described as having negative connotations in The Gutenberg Galaxy, but McLuhan himself was interested in exploring effects, not making value judgments:
Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence. [...] Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time. [...] In our long striving to recover for the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture.


Key to McLuhan's argument is the idea that technology has no per se moral bent—it is a tool that profoundly shapes an individual's and, by extension, a society's self-conception and realization:

Is it not obvious that there are always enough moral problems without also taking a moral stand on technological grounds? [...] Print is the extreme phase of alphabet culture that detribalizes or decollectivizes man in the first instance. Print raises the visual features of alphabet to highest intensity of definition. Thus print carries the individuating power of the phonetic alphabet much further than manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 culture could ever do. Print is the technology of individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

. If men decided to modify this visual technology by an electric technology, individualism would also be modified. To raise a moral complaint about this is like cussing a buzz-saw for lopping off fingers. "But", someone says, "we didn't know it would happen." Yet even witlessness is not a moral issue. It is a problem, but not a moral problem; and it would be nice to clear away some of the moral fogs that surround our technologies. It would be good for morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

.


The moral valence
Valence (psychology)
Valence, as used in psychology, especially in discussing emotions, means the intrinsic attractiveness or aversiveness of an event, object, or situation. However, the term is also used to characterize and categorize specific emotions. For example, the emotions popularly referred to as "negative",...

 of technology's effects on cognition is, for McLuhan, a matter of perspective. For instance, McLuhan contrasts the considerable alarm and revulsion that the growing quantity of books aroused in the latter seventeenth century with the modern concern for the "end of the book". If there can be no universal moral sentence passed on technology, McLuhan believes that "there can only be disaster arising from unawareness of the causalities and effects inherent in our technologies".

Though the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 was invented almost thirty years after The Gutenberg Galaxy, and ten years after his death, McLuhan prophesied the web technology seen today as early as 1962:

The next medium, whatever it is—it may be the extension of consciousness—will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind (Marshall McLuhan 1962).


Furthermore, McLuhan coined and certainly popularized the usage of the term "surfing
Surfing
Surfing' is a surface water sport in which the surfer rides a surfboard on the crest and face of a wave which is carrying the surfer towards the shore...

" to refer to rapid, irregular and multidirectional movement through a heterogeneous body of documents or knowledge, e.g., statements like "Heidegger surf-boards along on the electronic wave as triumphantly as Descartes rode the mechanical wave." Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson is an American author and professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University in New York City. Levinson's novels, short fiction, and non-fiction works have been translated into twelve languages....

's 1999 book Digital McLuhan explores the ways that McLuhan's work can be better understood through the lens of the digital revolution.

McLuhan frequently quoted Walter Ong's Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue (1958), which evidently had prompted McLuhan to write The Gutenberg Galaxy. Ong wrote a highly favorable review of this new book in America. However, Ong later tempered his praise, by describing McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy as "a racy survey, indifferent to some scholarly detail, but uniquely valuable in suggesting the sweep and depth of the cultural and psychological changes entailed in the passage from illiteracy to print and beyond." McLuhan himself said of the book, "I'm not concerned to get any kudos out of [The Gutenberg Galaxy]. It seems to me a book that somebody should have written a century ago. I wish somebody else had written it. It will be a useful prelude to the rewrite of Understanding Media [the 1960 NAEB report] that I'm doing now."

McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy won Canada's highest literary award, the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction
Governor General's Award for English language non-fiction
This is a list of recipients of the Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction.-1930s:*1936: T. B. Robertson, collected newspaper articles*1937: Stephen Leacock, My Discovery of the West*1938: John Murray Gibbon, Canadian Mosaic...

, in 1962. The chairman of the selection committee was McLuhan's colleague at the University of Toronto and oftentime intellectual sparring partner, Northrop Frye
Northrop Frye
Herman Northrop Frye, was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century....

.

Understanding Media (1964)



McLuhan's most widely known work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), is a pioneering study in media theory. McLuhan proposed that media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study—popularly quoted as "the medium is the message". McLuhan's insight was that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself. McLuhan pointed to the light bulb as a clear demonstration of this concept. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that "a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence." More controversially, he postulated that content had little effect on society—in other words, it did not matter if television broadcasts children's shows or violent programming, to illustrate one example—the effect of television on society would be identical. He noted that all media have characteristics that engage the viewer in different ways; for instance, a passage in a book could be reread at will, but a movie had to be screened again in its entirety to study any individual part of it.

"Hot" and "cool" media


In the first part of Understanding Media, McLuhan also stated that different media invite different degrees of participation on the part of a person who chooses to consume a medium. Some media, like the movies, were "hot"—that is, they enhance one single sense
Sense
Senses are physiological capacities of organisms that provide inputs for perception. The senses and their operation, classification, and theory are overlapping topics studied by a variety of fields, most notably neuroscience, cognitive psychology , and philosophy of perception...

, in this case vision
Visual perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye. The resulting perception is also known as eyesight, sight, or vision...

, in such a manner that a person does not need to exert much effort in filling in the details of a movie image. McLuhan contrasted this with "cool" TV, which he claimed requires more effort on the part of the viewer to determine meaning, and comics
Comics
Comics denotes a hybrid medium having verbal side of its vocabulary tightly tied to its visual side in order to convey narrative or information only, the latter in case of non-fiction comics, seeking synergy by using both visual and verbal side in...

, which due to their minimal presentation of visual detail require a high degree of effort to fill in details that the cartoonist may have intended to portray. A movie is thus said by McLuhan to be "hot", intensifying one single sense "high definition", demanding a viewer's attention, and a comic book to be "cool" and "low definition", requiring much more conscious participation by the reader to extract value.

"Any hot medium allows of less participation than a cool one, as a lecture makes for less participation than a seminar, and a book for less than a dialogue."

Hot media usually, but not always, provide complete involvement without considerable stimulus. For example, print occupies visual space, uses visual senses, but can immerse its reader. Hot media favour analytical precision, quantitative analysis and sequential ordering, as they are usually sequential, linear and logical. They emphasize one sense (for example, of sight or sound) over the others. For this reason, hot media also include radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, as well as film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, the lecture
Lecture
thumb|A lecture on [[linear algebra]] at the [[Helsinki University of Technology]]A lecture is an oral presentation intended to present information or teach people about a particular subject, for example by a university or college teacher. Lectures are used to convey critical information, history,...

 and photography
Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

.

Cool media, on the other hand, are usually, but not always, those that provide little involvement with substantial stimulus. They require more active participation on the part of the user, including the perception of abstract patterning and simultaneous comprehension of all parts. Therefore, according to McLuhan cool media include television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, as well as the seminar
Seminar
Seminar is, generally, a form of academic instruction, either at an academic institution or offered by a commercial or professional organization. It has the function of bringing together small groups for recurring meetings, focusing each time on some particular subject, in which everyone present is...

 and cartoons. McLuhan describes the term "cool media" as emerging from jazz and popular music and, in this context, is used to mean "detached."

This concept appears to force media into binary categories. However, McLuhan's hot and cool exist on a continuum: they are more correctly measured on a scale than as dichotomous terms.

Criticism of Understanding Media


Some theorists have attacked McLuhan’s definition and treatment of the word “medium” for being too simplistic. Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

, for instance, contends that McLuhan’s medium conflates channels, codes, and messages under the overarching term of the medium, confusing the vehicle, internal code, and content of a given message in his framework.

In Chapter Two of Media Manifestos, Regis Debray
Régis Debray
Jules Régis Debray is a French intellectual, journalist, government official and professor. He is known for his theorization of mediology, a critical theory of the long-term transmission of cultural meaning in human society; and for having fought in 1967 with Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in...

 also takes issue with McLuhan’s envisioning of the medium. Like Eco, he too rebukes McLuhan for his reductive model and summarizes the dangerous ramifications of said reduction thusly:

The list of objections could be and has been lengthened indefinitely: confusing technology itself with its use of the media makes of the media an abstract, undifferentiated force and produces its image in an imaginary “public” for mass consumption; the magical naivete of supposed causalities turns the media into a catch-all and contagious “mana”; apocalyptic millenarianism invents the figure of a homo mass-mediaticus without ties to historical and social context, and so on.


Furthermore, when Wired interviewed him in 1995, Debray stated that he views McLuhan “more as a poet than a historian, a master of intellectual collage rather than a systematic analyst . . . . McLuhan overemphasizes the technology behind cultural change at the expense of the usage that the messages and codes make of that technology.”

Dwight McDonald, in turn, reproached McLuhan for his focus on television and for his “aphoristic” style of prose, which he believes left Understanding Media filled with “contradictions, non-sequiturs, facts that are distorted and facts that are not facts, exaggerations, and chronic rhetorical vagueness.”

Additionally, Brian Winston
Brian Winston
Brian Winston was the first Lincoln Chair of Communications at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom. He was a Pro Vice Chancellor for 2005-2006 and the former dean of communications....

’s Misunderstanding Media, published in 1986, chides McLuhan for his technologically deterministic stances. Raymond Williams
Raymond Williams
Raymond Henry Williams was a Welsh academic, novelist and critic. He was an influential figure within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the mass media and literature are a significant contribution to the Marxist critique of culture and the arts...

 and James W. Carey
James W. Carey
James Carey was a communications theorist, media critic and a journalism instructor at the University of Illinois, and later Columbia University. He died in 2006 at age 71.- Early career :...

 further this point of contention, claiming:

The work of McLuhan was a particular culmination of an aesthetic theory which became, negatively, a social theory […] It is an apparently sophisticated technological determinism which has the significant effect of indicating a social and cultural determinism […] If the medium - whether print or television – is the cause, of all other causes, all that men ordinarily see as history is at once reduced to effects. (Williams 1990, 126/7)


In short, there has been a long line of “academics who have made a career out of deconstructing McLuhan’s effort to define the modern media ecosystem,” whether it be due to McLuhan’s debatable ignorance toward sociohistorical context or the style of his argument.

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)


This book, published in 1967, was McLuhan's best seller, "eventually selling nearly a million copies worldwide." Initiated by Quentin Fiore
Quentin Fiore
Quentin Fiore is a graphic designer, who has worked mostly in books.Having taken art lessons from renowned artists George Grosz and Hans Hofmann, Fiore later studied at the "New Bauhaus" in Chicago....

, McLuhan adopted the term "massage" to denote the effect each medium has on the human sensorium, taking inventory of the "effects" of numerous media in terms of how they "massage" the sensorium.

Fiore, at the time a prominent graphic designer and communications consultant, set about composing the visual illustration of these effects which were compiled by Jerome Agel. Near the beginning of the book, Fiore adopted a pattern in which an image demonstrating a media effect was presented with a textual synopsis on the facing page. The reader experiences a repeated shifting of analytic registers—from "reading" typographic print to "scanning" photographic facsimiles—reinforcing McLuhan's overarching argument in this book: namely, that each medium produces a different "massage" or "effect" on the human sensorium.

In The Medium is the Massage, McLuhan also rehashed the argument—which first appeared in the Prologue to 1962's The Gutenberg Galaxy—that media are "extensions" of our human senses, bodies and minds.

Finally, McLuhan described key points of change in how man has viewed the world and how these views were changed by the adoption of new media. "The technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth [century]", brought on by the adoption of fixed points of view and perspective
Perspective (cognitive)
Perspective in theory of cognition is the choice of a context or a reference from which to sense, categorize, measure or codify experience, cohesively forming a coherent belief, typically for comparing with another...

 by typography, while "[t]he technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century", brought on by the bard
Bard
In medieval Gaelic and British culture a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities.Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland...

 abilities of radio, movies and television.

An audio recording version of McLuhan's famous work was made by Columbia Records. The recording consists of a pastiche of statements made by McLuhan interrupted by other speakers, including people speaking in various phonation
Phonation
Phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, phonation is the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through quasi-periodic vibration. This is the definition used among those who study laryngeal anatomy and physiology...

s and falsetto
Falsetto
Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of the ligamentous edges of the vocal folds, in whole or in part...

s, discordant sounds and 1960s incidental music in what could be considered a deliberate attempt to translate the disconnected images seen on TV into an audio format, resulting in the prevention of a connected stream of conscious thought. Various audio recording techniques and statements are used to illustrate the relationship between spoken, literary speech and the characteristics of electronic audio media. McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand called the recording "the 1967 equivalent of a McLuhan video."
"I wouldn't be seen dead with a living work of art."—'Old man' speaking
"Drop this jiggery-pokery and talk straight turkey."—'Middle aged man' speaking

War and Peace in the Global Village (1968)


McLuhan used James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

's Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake is a novel by Irish author James Joyce, significant for its experimental style and resulting reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language. Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, and published in 1939, two years before the author's...

as a inspiration for this study of war throughout history as an indicator as to how war may be conducted in the future.

Joyce's Wake is claimed to be a gigantic cryptogram which reveals a cyclic pattern for the whole history of man through its Ten Thunders. Each "thunder" below is a 100-character portmanteau of other words to create a statement he likens to an effect that each technology has on the society into which it is introduced. In order to glean the most understanding out of each, the reader must break the portmanteau into separate words (and many of these are themselves portmanteaus of words taken from multiple languages other than English) and speak them aloud for the spoken effect of each word. There is much dispute over what each portmanteau truly denotes.

McLuhan claims that the ten thunders in Wake represent different stages in the history of man:
  • Thunder 1: Paleolithic to Neolithic. Speech. Split of East/West. From herding to harnessing animals.
  • Thunder 2: Clothing as weaponry. Enclosure of private parts. First social aggression.
  • Thunder 3: Specialism. Centralism via wheel, transport, cities: civil life.
  • Thunder 4: Markets and truck gardens. Patterns of nature submitted to greed and power.
  • Thunder 5: Printing. Distortion and translation of human patterns and postures and pastors.
  • Thunder 6: Industrial Revolution. Extreme development of print process and individualism.
  • Thunder 7: Tribal man again. All choractors end up separate, private man. Return of choric.
  • Thunder 8: Movies. Pop art, pop Kulch via tribal radio. Wedding of sight and sound.
  • Thunder 9: Car and Plane. Both centralizing and decentralizing at once create cities in crisis. Speed and death.
  • Thunder 10: Television. Back to tribal involvement in tribal mood-mud. The last thunder is a turbulent, muddy wake, and murk of non-visual, tactile man.

From Cliché to Archetype (1970)


In his 1970 book, From Cliché to Archetype, McLuhan, collaborating with Canadian poet
Canadian poetry
- Beginnings:The earliest works of poetry, mainly written by visitors, described the new territories in optimistic terms, mainly targeted at a European audience...

 Wilfred Watson
Wilfred Watson
Wilfred Watson was professor emeritus of English at Canada's University of Alberta for many years. He was also an experimental Canadian poet and dramatist, whose innovative plays had a considerable influence in the 1960s...

, approached the various implications of the verbal cliché
Cliché
A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning,...

 and of the archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

. One major facet in McLuhan's overall framework introduced in this book that is seldom noticed is the provision of a new term that actually succeeds the global village; the global theater.

In McLuhan's terms, a cliché is a "normal" action, phrase, etc. which becomes so often used that we are "anesthetized" to its effects.

An example of this given by McLuhan is Eugene Ionesco's
Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd...

 play The Bald Soprano
The Bald Soprano
La Cantatrice Chauve — translated from French as The Bald Soprano or The Bald Prima Donna — is the first play written by Franco-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco. Nicolas Bataille directed the premiere on May 11, 1950 at the Théâtre des Noctambules, Paris...

, whose dialogue consists entirely of phrases Ionesco pulled from an Assimil
Assimil
Assimil is a French company, founded by Alphonse Chérel in 1929. It creates and publishes foreign language courses, which began with their first book Anglais Sans Peine...

 language book. "Ionesco originally put all these idiomatic English clichés into literary French which presented the English in the most absurd aspect possible."

McLuhan's archetype "is a quoted extension, medium, technology or environment." "Environment" would also include the kinds of "awareness" and cognitive shifts brought upon people by it, not totally unlike the psychological context Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 described.

McLuhan also posits that there is a factor of interplay between the cliché and the archetype, or a "doubleness":

Another theme of the Wake [Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake is a novel by Irish author James Joyce, significant for its experimental style and resulting reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language. Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, and published in 1939, two years before the author's...

] that helps in the understanding of the paradoxical shift from cliché to archetype is 'past time are pastimes.' The dominant technologies of one age become the games and pastimes of a later age. In the 20th century, the number of 'past times' that are simultaneously available is so vast as to create cultural anarchy. When all the cultures of the world are simultaneously present, the work of the artist in the elucidation of form takes on new scope and new urgency. Most men are pushed into the artist's role. The artist cannot dispense with the principle of 'doubleness' or 'interplay' because this type of hendiadys
Hendiadys
Hendiadys is a figure of speech used for emphasis — "The substitution of a conjunction for a subordination". The basic idea is to use two words linked by a conjunction to express a single complex idea....

 dialogue is essential to the very structure of consciousness, awareness, and autonomy.


McLuhan relates the cliché-to-archetype process to the Theater of the Absurd
Theatre of the Absurd
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work...

:
Pascal, in the seventeenth century, tells us that the heart has many reasons of which the head knows nothing. The Theater of the Absurd is essentially a communicating to the head of some of the silent languages of the heart which in two or three hundred years it has tried to forget all about. In the seventeenth century world the languages of the heart were pushed down into the unconscious by the dominant print cliché.


The "languages of the heart", or what McLuhan would otherwise define as oral culture, were thus made archetype by means of the printing press, and turned into cliché.

The satellite medium, McLuhan states, encloses the Earth in a man-made environment, which "ends 'Nature' and turns the globe into a repertory theater to be programmed." All previous environments (book, newspaper, radio, etc.) and their artifacts are retrieved under these conditions ("past times are pastimes"). McLuhan thereby meshes this into the term global theater. It serves as an update to his older concept of the global village, which, in its own definitions, can be said to be subsumed into the overall condition described by that of the global theater.

Tetrad


In Laws of Media (1988), published posthumously by his son Eric
Eric McLuhan
Eric McLuhan is the son of well-known media theorist Marshall McLuhan and co-authored with him the books The Laws of Media and Media and Formal Cause....

, McLuhan summarized his ideas about media
Media studies
Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

 in a concise tetrad of media effects. The tetrad is a means of examining the effects on society of any technology (i.e., any medium) by dividing its effects into four categories and displaying them simultaneously. McLuhan designed the tetrad as a pedagogical tool, phrasing his laws as questions with which to consider any medium:
  • What does the medium enhance?
  • What does the medium make obsolete?
  • What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?
  • What does the medium flip into when pushed to extremes?


The laws of the tetrad exist simultaneously, not successively or chronologically, and allow the questioner to explore the "grammar and syntax" of the "language" of media. McLuhan departs from his mentor Harold Innis
Harold Innis
Harold Adams Innis was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history. The affiliated Innis College at the University of Toronto is named for him...

 in suggesting that a medium "overheats", or reverses into an opposing form, when taken to its extreme.

Visually, a tetrad can be depicted as four diamonds forming an X, with the name of a medium in the center. The two diamonds on the left of a tetrad are the Enhancement and Retrieval qualities of the medium, both Figure qualities. The two diamonds on the right of a tetrad are the Obsolescence and Reversal qualities, both Ground qualities.

Using the example of radio:
  • Enhancement (figure): What the medium amplifies or intensifies. Radio amplifies news and music via sound.
  • Obsolescence (ground): What the medium drives out of prominence. Radio reduces the importance of print and the visual.
  • Retrieval (figure): What the medium recovers which was previously lost. Radio returns the spoken word to the forefront.
  • Reversal (ground): What the medium does when pushed to its limits. Acoustic radio flips into audio-visual TV.

Figure and ground


McLuhan adapted the Gestalt psychology
Gestalt psychology
Gestalt psychology or gestaltism is a theory of mind and brain of the Berlin School; the operational principle of gestalt psychology is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies...

 idea of a figure and a ground, which underpins the meaning of "The medium is the message." He used this concept to explain how a form of communications technology, the medium or figure, necessarily operates through its context, or ground.

McLuhan believed that to fully grasp the effect of a new technology, one must examine figure (medium) and ground (context) together, since neither is completely intelligible without the other. McLuhan argued that we must study media in their historical context, particularly in relation to the technologies that preceded them. The present environment, itself made up of the effects of previous technologies, gives rise to new technologies, which, in their turn, further affect society and individuals.

All technologies have embedded within them their own assumptions about time and space. The message which the medium conveys can only be understood if the medium and the environment in which the medium is used—and which, simultaneously, it effectively creates—are analyzed together. He believed that an examination of the figure-ground relationship can offer a critical commentary on culture and society.

Technological determinism



Media determinism, a subset of technological determinism, is a philosophical and sociological position which posits the power of the media to impact society.

McLuhan explains technological determinism
Technological determinism
Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society's technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by Thorstein Veblen , an American sociologist...

 as it relates to media.
"the printing press, the computer, and television are not therefore simply machines which convey information. They are metaphors through which we conceptualize reality in one way or another. They will classify the world for us, sequence it, frame it, enlarge it, reduce it, argue a case for what it is like. Through these media metaphors, we do not see the world as it is. We see it as our coding systems are. Such is the power of the form of information."

Legacy



After the publication of Understanding Media, McLuhan received an astonishing amount of publicity, making him perhaps the most publicized English teacher in the twentieth century and arguably the most controversial. This publicity had much to do with the work of two California advertising executives, Gerald Feigen and Howard Gossage
Howard Gossage
Howard Luck Gossage , known as "The Socrates of San Francisco," was an advertising innovator and iconoclast during the "Mad Men" era...

, who used personal profits to fund their practice of "genius scouting." Much enamoured with McLuhan's work, Feigen and Gossage arranged for McLuhan to meet with editors of several major New York magazines in May 1965 at the Lombardy Hotel in New York. Philip Marchand reports that, as a direct consequence of these meetings, McLuhan was offered the use of an office in the headquarters of both Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

and Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

, any time he needed it.

In August 1965, Feigen and Gossage held what they called a "McLuhan festival" in the offices of Gossage's advertising agency in San Francisco. During this "festival", McLuhan met with advertising executives, members of the mayor's office, and editors from the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

 and Ramparts
Ramparts (magazine)
Ramparts was an American political and literary magazine, published from 1962 through 1975.-History:Founded by Edward M. Keating as a Catholic literary quarterly, the magazine became closely associated with the New Left after executive editor Warren Hinckle hired Robert Scheer as managing editor...

 magazine. Perhaps more significant, however, was Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

's presence at the festival, which he would later write about in his article, "What If He Is Right?", published in New York Magazine and Wolfe's own The Pump House Gang
The Pump House Gang
The Pump House Gang is a 1968 collection of essays and journalism by Tom Wolfe. The stories in the book explored various aspects of the counterculture of the 1960s...

. According to Feigen and Gossage, however, their work had only a moderate effect on McLuhan's eventual celebrity: they later claimed that their work only "probably speeded up the recognition of [McLuhan's] genius by about six months." In any case, McLuhan soon became a fixture of media discourse. Newsweek magazine did a cover story on him; articles appeared in Life Magazine, Harper's, Fortune, Esquire, and others. Cartoons about him appeared in The New Yorker. In 1969 Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

magazine published a lengthy interview with him.

McLuhan was credited with coining the phrase Turn on, tune in, drop out
Turn on, tune in, drop out
"Turn on, tune in, drop out" is a counterculture phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in 1967. Leary spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and uttered the famous phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out". In a 1988 interview with Neil Strauss, Leary...

by its popularizer, Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary
Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison...

 in the 1960s. In a 1988 interview with Neil Strauss
Neil Strauss
Neil Darrow Strauss , also known by the pen names Style and Chris Powles, is an American and Kittitian author, journalist and ghostwriter...

, Leary stated that slogan was "given to him" by McLuhan during a lunch in New York City. Leary said McLuhan "was very much interested in ideas and marketing, and he started singing something like, 'Psychedelics hit the spot / Five hundred micrograms, that’s a lot,' to the tune of a Pepsi commercial. Then he started going, 'Tune in, turn on, and drop out.'"

During his lifetime and afterward, McLuhan heavily influenced cultural critics, thinkers, and media theorists such as Neil Postman
Neil Postman
Neil Postman was an American author, media theorist and cultural critic, who is best known by the general public for his 1985 book about television, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than forty years, he was associated with New York University...

, Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.-Life:...

, Camille Paglia
Camille Paglia
Camille Anna Paglia , is an American author, teacher, and social critic. Paglia, a self-described dissident feminist, has been a Professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1984...

, Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary
Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison...

, Terence McKenna
Terence McKenna
Terence Kemp McKenna was an Irish-American philosopher, psychonaut, researcher, teacher, lecturer and writer on many subjects, such as human consciousness, language, psychedelic drugs, the evolution of civilizations, the origin and end of the universe, alchemy, and extraterrestrial beings.-Early...

, William Irwin Thompson
William Irwin Thompson
William Irwin Thompson is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He describes his writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient...

, Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson is an American author and professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University in New York City. Levinson's novels, short fiction, and non-fiction works have been translated into twelve languages....

, Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Rushkoff is an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist and documentarian. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.Rushkoff is most frequently regarded as a media...

, Jaron Lanier
Jaron Lanier
Jaron Zepel Lanier is an American computer scientist, best known for popularizing the term virtual reality .A pioneer in the field of VR, Lanier and Thomas G. Zimmerman left Atari in 1985 to found VPL Research, Inc., the first company to sell VR goggles and gloves...

 and John David Ebert
John David Ebert
John David Ebert is a cultural critic and philosopher who has made several contributions to the study of mythology and popular culture.- Twilight of the Clockwork God :...

, as well as political leaders such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau  and Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown
Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr. is an American politician. Brown served as the 34th Governor of California , and is currently serving as the 39th California Governor...

. Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola , known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art...

 was paraphrasing McLuhan with his now famous 15 minutes of fame
15 minutes of fame
15 minutes of fame is short-lived, often ephemeral, media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon. The expression was coined by Andy Warhol, who said in 1968 that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." The phenomenon is often used in reference to...

 quote. When asked in the 70s for a way to sedate violences in Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, he suggested a massive spread of TV devices. In 1991 McLuhan was named as the "patron saint" of Wired Magazine
Wired (magazine)
Wired is a full-color monthly American magazine and on-line periodical, published since January 1993, that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, the economy, and politics...

 and a quote of his appeared on the masthead for the first ten years of its publication. He is mentioned by name in a Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer, musician, and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career...

-penned lyric in the song "Broadway Melody of 1974". This song appears on the concept album
Concept album
In music, a concept album is an album that is "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical." Commonly, concept albums tend to incorporate preconceived musical or lyrical ideas rather than being improvised or composed in the studio, with all songs contributing...

 The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Lamb Lies down on Broadway
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is a double concept album recorded and released in 1974 by the British rock band Genesis. It was their sixth studio album and the last album by the group to feature the involvement of lead singer Peter Gabriel.-Premise:...

, from progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

 band Genesis
Genesis (band)
Genesis are an English rock band that formed in 1967. The band currently comprises the longest-tenured members Tony Banks , Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins . Past members Peter Gabriel , Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips , also played major roles in the band in its early years...

. The lyric is: "Marshall McLuhan, casual viewin' head buried in the sand." McLuhan is also jokingly referred to during an episode of The Sopranos
The Sopranos
The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads...

entitled House Arrest
House Arrest (The Sopranos episode)
"House Arrest" is the twenty-fourth episode of the HBO original series The Sopranos and was the eleventh of the show's second season. It was written by Terence Winter, directed by Tim Van Patten and originally aired on Sunday March 26, 2000.-Starring:...

. Despite his death in 1980, someone claiming to be McLuhan was posting on a Wired mailing list in 1996. The information this individual provided convinced one writer for Wired that "if the poster was not McLuhan himself, it was a bot programmed with an eerie command of McLuhan's life and inimitable perspective."

A new centre known as the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology
McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology
The McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology started in 1963 as the Centre for Culture and Technology.In 1994, the McLuhan Program became a part of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information Studies....

, formed soon after his death in 1980, is the successor to McLuhan's Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 and since 1994 it has been part of the University of Toronto Faculty of Information. The first director was literacy scholar and OISE
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto is a teachers' college in Toronto, Ontario.-History:OISE/UT traces its origins to the founding of the Provincial Normal School in 1847...

 professor David R. Olsen. From 1983 until 2008, the McLuhan Program was under the direction of Dr. Derrick de Kerckhove
Derrick de Kerckhove
Derrick de Kerckhove is the author of The Skin of Culture and Connected Intelligence and Professor in the Department of French at the University of Toronto, Canada...

 who was McLuhan's student and translator. Since 2008 Professor Dominique Scheffel-Dunand has been Director of the Program.

Works cited


This is a partial list of works cited in this article. See Bibliography of Marshall McLuhan
Bibliography of Marshall McLuhan
-Published works:# 1942 "The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time" ; published as The Classical Trivium, 2006 below....

 for a more comprehensive list of works by and about McLuhan.

By Marshall McLuhan

  • 1951 The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
    The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
    The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man is a pioneering study by Marshall McLuhan in the field now known as popular culture....

    ; 1st Ed.: The Vanguard Press, NY; reissued by Gingko Press, 2002 ISBN 1-58423-050-9
  • 1962 The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man; 1st Ed.: University of Toronto Press
    University of Toronto Press
    University of Toronto Press is Canada's leading scholarly publisher and one of the largest university presses in North America. Founded in 1901, UTP has published over 6,500 books, with well over 3,500 of these still in print....

    ; reissued by Routledge & Kegan Paul ISBN 0-7100-1818-5
  • 1964 Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
    Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
    Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man is a pioneering study in media theory written by Marshall McLuhan. In it McLuhan proposed that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study...

    ; 1st Ed. McGraw Hill, NY; reissued by MIT Press, 1994, with introduction by Lewis H. Lapham; reissued by Gingko Press, 2003 ISBN 1-58423-073-8
  • 1967 The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects
    The Medium is the Massage
    The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is a book co-created by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel...

    with Quentin Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel; 1st Ed.: Random House; reissued by Gingko Press, 2001 ISBN 1-58423-070-3
  • 1968 War and Peace in the Global Village
    War and Peace in the Global Village
    War and Peace in the Global Village by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore is a collage of images and text that illustrates the effects of electronic media and new technology on man. Marshall McLuhan used James Joyce's Finnegans Wake as a major inspiration for this study of war throughout history...

    design/layout by Quentin Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel; 1st Ed.: Bantam, NY; reissued by Gingko Press, 2001 ISBN 1-58423-074-6.
  • 1970 From Cliché to Archetype
    From Cliché to Archetype
    In his 1970 book, From Cliché to Archetype , Marshall McLuhan, collaborating with Canadian poet Wilfred Watson, approached the various implications of the verbal cliché and of the archetype...

    with Wilfred Watson; Viking, NY ISBN 0-67033-093-0

About Marshall McLuhan

  • Gordon, W. Terrence. Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding: A Biography. Basic Books, 1997. ISBN 0465005497.
  • Marchand, Philip. Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger. Random House, 1989; Vintage, 1990; The MIT Press; Revised edition, 1998. ISBN 0262631865 http://www.philipmarchand.com/mcluhan.html
  • Molinaro, Matie; Corinne McLuhan; and William Toye, eds. Letters of Marshall McLuhan. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987, ISBN 0195405943

Further reading

  • Benedetti, Paul and Nancy DeHart. Forward Through the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan. Boston:The MIT Press, 1997.
  • Carpenter, Edmund
    Edmund Snow Carpenter
    Edmund "Ted" Snow Carpenter was an anthropologist best known for his work on tribal art and visual media.-Early life:...

    . "That Not-So-Silent Sea" [Appendix B]. In The Virtual Marshall McLuhan edited by Donald F. Theall. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001: 236–261. (For the complete essay before it was edited for publication, see the external link below.)
  • Cavell, Richard. McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.
  • Coupland, Douglas
    Douglas Coupland
    Douglas Coupland is a Canadian novelist. His fiction is complemented by recognized works in design and visual art arising from his early formal training. His first novel, the 1991 international bestseller Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, popularized terms such as McJob and...

    . Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan
    Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan
    Marshall McLuhan is a biography written by Canadian author Douglas Coupland as a part of Penguin Canada's Extraordinary Canadians series. It will be published in March 2011 in the US by Atlas & Company under the title, "Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of my Work!".-Style:This biography uses...

    . Penguin Canada, 2009; US edition: Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of my Work!. Atlas & Company, 2011.
  • Daniel, Jeff. "McLuhan's Two Messengers: Maurice McNamee and Walter Ong: world-class interpreters of his ideas." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Sunday, August 10, 1997: 4C).
  • Federman, Mark. McLuhan for Managers: New Tools for New Thinking. Viking Canada, 2003.
  • Flahiff, F. T. Always Someone to Kill the Doves: A Life of Sheila Watson. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2005.
  • Giddings, Seth. The New Media and Technocultures Reader. Routledge, 2011:82-91
  • Levinson, Paul
    Paul Levinson
    Paul Levinson is an American author and professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University in New York City. Levinson's novels, short fiction, and non-fiction works have been translated into twelve languages....

    . Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium. Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-19251-X; book has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Croatian, Romanian, Korean and Macedonian
  • Ong, Walter J.: "McLuhan as Teacher: The Future Is a Thing of the Past." Journal of Communication 31 (1981): 129–135. Reprinted in Ong's Faith and Contexts: Volume One (Scholars Press, 1992: 11–18).
  • Ong, Walter J.: [Untitled review of McLuhan's The Interior Landscape: The Literary Criticism of Marshall McLuhan 1943–1962]. Criticism 12 (1970): 244–251. Reprinted in An Ong Reader: Challenges for Further Inquiry (Hampton Press, 2002: 69–77).
  • Prins, Harald E.L., and Bishop, John M. "Edmund Carpenter: Explorations in Media & Anthropology." Visual Anthropology Review Vol.17(2): 110-40 (2002). http://media-generation.com/Articles/VAR.pdf
  • Prins, Harald E.L., and John Bishop. "Edmund Carpenter: A Trickster's Explorations of Culture & Media." pp. 207–45. In Memories of the Origins of Ethnographic Film. B. Engelbrecht, ed. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2007.
  • Theall, Donald F. The Virtual Marshall McLuhan. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001.

External links