Marshall McLuhan CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980)
was a Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual. His
work is one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, McLuhan studied at the University of
Manitoba and the University of Cambridge. He began his teaching career
as a professor of English at several universities in the U.S. and
Canada before moving to the University of
Toronto in 1946, where he
remained for the rest of his life.
McLuhan is known for coining the expression "the medium is the
message" and the term global village, and for predicting the World
Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. He was a fixture
in media discourse in the late 1960s, though his influence began to
wane in the early 1970s. In the years after his death, he continued
to be a controversial figure in academic circles. With the arrival
Internet and the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web interest was renewed in his
work and perspective.
1 Life and career
2 Major works
The Mechanical Bride
The Mechanical Bride (1951)
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)
2.2.1 Movable type
2.2.2 The Global Village
Understanding Media (1964)
2.3.1 "Hot" and "cool" media
2.3.2 Critiques of Understanding Media
2.4 The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)
War and Peace in the Global Village
War and Peace in the Global Village (1968)
2.7 The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the
21st Century (1989)
2.7.1 Beyond existing communication models
3 Key concepts
3.1 Tetrad of media effects
3.2 Figure and ground
5 Works cited
5.1 By McLuhan
5.2 About McLuhan
7 Further reading
8 External links
Life and career
Marshall McLuhan was born on July 21, 1911, in Edmonton,
Alberta, to Elsie Naomi (née Hall) and Herbert Ernest McLuhan, both
born in Canada. His brother Maurice was born two years later.
"Marshall" was his maternal grandmother's surname. His mother was a
Baptist school teacher who later became an actress; his father was a
Methodist and had a real estate business in Edmonton. That business
World War I
World War I broke out, and McLuhan's father enlisted in
the Canadian army. After a year of service, he contracted influenza
and remained in Canada, away from the front lines. After his 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 before enrolling in the
University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba 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 as
agnosticism. After studying for one year as an engineering
student, he changed majors and earned a BA (1933), winning a
University Gold Medal in Arts and Sciences. He took an MA
(1934) in English from the
University of Manitoba
University of Manitoba in 1934. He had long
desired to pursue graduate studies in
England and was accepted to the
University of Cambridge, having failed to secure a Rhodes scholarship
to Oxford.
He had already earned a BA and an MA degree at Manitoba, but Cambridge
required him to enroll as an undergraduate "affiliated" student, with
one year's credit towards a three-year bachelor's degree, before
entering any doctoral studies. He entered
Trinity Hall, Cambridge
in the autumn of 1934, where he studied under
I. A. Richards
I. A. Richards and F. R.
Leavis and was influenced by New Criticism. Upon reflection years
afterward, 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 the required
bachelor's degree from Cambridge in 1936 and entered their
graduate program. Later, he returned from
England to take a job as a
teaching assistant at the
University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin–Madison that he
held for the 1936–37 academic year, being 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 in 1937,
founded on his reading of G. K. Chesterton. 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 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 (e.g., the trivium, the Trinity) 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 (with an interruption from 1939–40 when he returned
to Cambridge). There he taught courses on Shakespeare and tutored
and befriended Walter J. Ong, S.J., who went on to write his Ph.D.
dissertation on a topic that McLuhan had called to his attention, and
who also became a well-known authority on communication and
McLuhan met Corinne Lewis in St. Louis, a teacher and aspiring
actress from Fort Worth, Texas, and they were married on August 4,
1939. 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 and the verbal arts. While the
McLuhans were in England, war had broken out in Europe. For this
reason, he obtained permission to complete and submit his dissertation
from the United States, without having to return to Cambridge for an
oral defence. 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. He next taught at Assumption
Windsor, Ontario from 1944 to 1946, then moved to Toronto
in 1946 where he joined the faculty of St. Michael's College, a
Catholic college of the University of Toronto.
Hugh Kenner was one of
his students and Canadian economist and communications scholar Harold
Innis was a university colleague who had a strong influence on his
work. McLuhan wrote in 1964: "I am pleased to think of my own book The
Gutenberg Galaxy as a footnote to the observations of Innis on the
subject of the psychic and social consequences, first of writing then
In the early 1950s, McLuhan began the
Communication and Culture
seminars at the University of Toronto, funded by the Ford Foundation.
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 (1951). The work was an
examination of the effect of advertising on society and culture. He
and Edmund Carpenter also produced an important journal called
Explorations throughout the 1950s. McLuhan and Carpenter have been
characterized as the
Toronto School of communication theory, together
with Harold Innis, Eric A. Havelock, and Northrop Frye. During this
time, McLuhan supervised the doctoral thesis of modernist writer
Sheila Watson on the subject of Wyndham Lewis. He remained at the
Toronto through 1979, spending much of this time as head
of his Centre for Culture and Technology.
McLuhan was named to the
Albert Schweitzer Chair in Humanities at
Fordham University in the Bronx for one year (1967–68). While at
Fordham, he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, and it was
treated successfully. He returned to
Toronto where he taught at the
Toronto for the rest of his life and lived in Wychwood
Park, a bucolic enclave on a hill overlooking the downtown where
Anatol Rapoport was his neighbour. In 1970, he was made a Companion of
the Order of Canada. In 1975, the
University of Dallas
University of Dallas hosted him
from April to May, appointing him to the McDermott Chair.[citation
Marshall and Corinne McLuhan had six children: Eric, twins Mary and
Teresa, Stephanie, Elizabeth, and Michael. The associated costs of a
large family eventually drove him 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
centre shortly thereafter, but was deterred by substantial protests,
most notably by Woody Allen. Allen's Oscar-winning motion picture
Annie Hall (1977) featured McLuhan in a cameo as himself; a pompous
academic arguing with Allen in a cinema queue is silenced by McLuhan
suddenly appearing and saying, "You know nothing of my work." This was
one of McLuhan's most frequent statements to and about those who
disagreed with him.
He never fully recovered from the stroke and died in his sleep on
December 31, 1980.
During his years at
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University (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
McLuhan's 1942 Cambridge University doctoral dissertation surveys the
history of the verbal arts (grammar, logic, and
rhetoric—collectively known as the trivium) from the time of Cicero
down to the time of Thomas Nashe. 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, for instance,
was characterized by the heavy emphasis on the formal study of logic.
The key development that led to the
Renaissance 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 re-emergence of grammar as its most salient feature—a trend
McLuhan felt was exemplified by the
New Criticism of Richards and
In The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan turned his attention to analysing and
commenting on numerous examples of persuasion in contemporary popular
culture. 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 independent of their content. His
famous aphorism "the medium is the message" (elaborated in his 1964
book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man) calls attention to
this intrinsic effect of communications media.
McLuhan also started the journal Explorations with anthropologist
Edmund "Ted" Carpenter. In a letter to
Walter Ong dated May 31, 1953,
McLuhan reported that he had received a two-year grant of $43,000 from
Ford Foundation to carry out a communication project at the
Toronto involving faculty from different disciplines,
which led to the creation of the journal.
At a Fordham lecture in 1999,
Tom Wolfe suggested that a major
under-acknowledged influence on McLuhan's work is the Jesuit
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin whose ideas anticipated those
of McLuhan, especially the evolution of the human mind into the
"noosphere". In fact, McLuhan warns against outright dismissing or
whole-heartedly accepting de Chardin's observations early on in his
first published book
The Mechanical Bride
The Mechanical Bride (p. 32): "This
externalization of our senses creates what de Chardin calls the
'noosphere' or a technological brain for the world. Instead of tending
towards a vast
Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an
electronic brain, exactly as in an infantile piece of science fiction.
And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother 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 super-imposed co-existence."
The Mechanical Bride
The Mechanical Bride (1951)
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McLuhan's first book, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
(1951), is a pioneering study in the field now known as popular
culture. 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
The Mechanical Bride is derived from
a piece by the Dadaist artist, Marcel Duchamp.
Like his 1962 book The Gutenberg Galaxy,
The Mechanical Bride
The Mechanical Bride is
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.
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)
McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (written
in 1961, first published in Canada by University of
Toronto Press in
1962) is a pioneering study in the fields of oral culture, print
culture, cultural studies, and media ecology.
Throughout the book, McLuhan takes pains to reveal how communication
technology (alphabetic writing, the printing press, and the electronic
media) 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.
His episodic history takes the reader from pre-alphabetic tribal
humankind to the electronic age. According to McLuhan, the invention
of movable type 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. (McLuhan is careful to distinguish
the phonetic alphabet from logographic/logogramic writing systems,
Egyptian hieroglyphs 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
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) 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 period in
the Western world: individualism, democracy, Protestantism, capitalism
and nationalism. 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 replaces visual
culture 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.
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, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece
of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big
Brother 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 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 culture could ever do. Print is the technology of
individualism. 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
The moral valence 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".
World Wide Web
World Wide Web 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.
Furthermore, McLuhan coined and certainly popularized the usage of the
term "surfing" 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
Descartes rode the mechanical wave." Paul Levinson'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
The Gutenberg Galaxy
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."
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy won Canada's highest literary award,
the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction, in 1962. The chairman of
the selection committee was McLuhan's colleague at the University of
Toronto and oftentime intellectual sparring partner, Northrop
Understanding Media (1964)
McLuhan's most widely known work, Understanding Media: The Extensions
of Man (1964), is a pioneering study in media theory. Dismayed by the
way people approached and used new media such as television, McLuhan
famously argued that in the modern world "we live mythically and
integrally ... but continue to think in the old, fragmented space and
time patterns of the pre-electric age."
McLuhan proposed that media 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, in this
case 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, 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, as well as film, the
lecture and photography.
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, as well as the seminar and cartoons. McLuhan describes the
term "cool media" as emerging from jazz and popular music and, in this
context, is used to mean "detached." Cool medium incorporates
increased involvement but decreased description while hot medium is
the opposite, decreased involvement and increased description. In
other words, a society that appears to be actively participating in
the streaming of content but not considering the effects of the tool
is not allowing an “extension of ourselves.” 
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.
Critiques of Understanding Media
Some theorists have attacked McLuhan’s definition and treatment of
the word "medium" for being too simplistic. Umberto Eco, 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
In Media Manifestos,
Régis Debray also takes issue with McLuhan’s
envisioning of the medium. Like Eco, he too is ill at ease with this
reductionist approach, summarizing its ramifications as follows:
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
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 Macdonald, in turn, reproached McLuhan for his focus on
television and for his "aphoristic" style of prose, which he believes
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’s Misunderstanding Media, published in
1986, chides McLuhan for what he sees as his technologically
Raymond Williams and
James W. Carey 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)
David Carr states that 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 what they see as
McLuhan’s ignorance toward sociohistorical context or the style of
While some critics have taken issue with McLuhan’s writing style and
mode of argument, McLuhan himself urged readers to think of his work
as "probes" or "mosaics" offering a toolkit approach to thinking about
the media. His eclectic writing style has also been praised for its
postmodern sensibilities and suitability for virtual space.
The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)
The Medium Is the Massage, published in 1967, was McLuhan's best
seller, "eventually selling nearly a million copies worldwide."
Initiated by Quentin Fiore, 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 all 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 by typography, while "[t]he technique of the suspended
judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century", brought on by the
bard abilities of radio, movies and television.
The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation we
tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the
most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror.
We march backward into the future. Suburbia lives imaginatively in
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 phonations and falsettos, 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
"I wouldn't be seen dead with a living work of art."—'Old man'
"Drop this jiggery-pokery and talk straight turkey."—'Middle aged
War and Peace in the Global Village
War and Peace in the Global Village (1968)
McLuhan used James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, an 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
Thunder 3: Specialism. Centralism via wheel, transport, cities: civil
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
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,
In his 1970 book, From
Cliché to Archetype, McLuhan, collaborating
with Canadian poet Wilfred Watson, approached the various
implications of the verbal cliché and of the archetype. 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 Eugène Ionesco's play The Bald
Soprano, whose dialogue consists entirely of phrases Ionesco pulled
Assimil 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 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] 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 dialogue is
essential to the very structure of consciousness, awareness, and
McLuhan relates the cliché-to-archetype process to the Theater of the
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.
The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the
21st Century (1989)
In his 1989 posthumous book, The Global Village, McLuhan,
collaborating with Bruce R. Powers, provided a strong conceptual
framework for understanding the cultural implications of the
technological advances associated with the rise of a worldwide
electronic network. This is a major work of McLuhan's because it
contains the most extensive elaboration of his concept of Acoustic
Space, and it provides a critique of standard 20th century
communication models like the Shannon–Weaver model. McLuhan
distinguishes between the existing worldview of Visual Space – a
linear, quantitative, classically geometric model – and that of
Acoustic Space – a holistic, qualitative order with a complex
intricate paradoxical topology. "Acoustic Space has the basic
character of a sphere whose focus or center is simultaneously
everywhere and whose margin is nowhere." The transition from
Visual to Acoustic Space was not automatic with the advent of the
global network, but would have to be a conscious project. The
"universal environment of simultaneous electronic flow" inherently
favors right-brain Acoustic Space, yet we are held back by habits of
adhering to a fixed point of view. There are no boundaries to sound.
We hear from all directions at once. Yet Acoustic and Visual Space are
in fact inseparable. The resonant interval is the invisible borderline
between Visual and Acoustic Space. This is like the television camera
that the Apollo 8 astronauts focused on the Earth after they had
orbited the moon.
Reading, writing, and hierarchical ordering are associated with the
left brain, as are the linear concept of time and phonetic literacy.
The left brain is the locus of analysis, classification, and
rationality. The right brain is the locus of the spatial, tactile, and
musical. "Comprehensive awareness" results when the two sides of the
brain are in true balance. Visual Space is associated with the
simplified worldview of Euclidean geometry, the intuitive three
dimensions useful for the architecture of buildings and the surveying
of land. It is too rational and has no grasp of the acoustic. Acoustic
Space is multisensory.
McLuhan writes about robotism in the context of Japanese Zen Buddhism
and how it can offer us new ways of thinking about technology. The
Western way of thinking about technology is too much related to the
left hemisphere of our brain, which has a rational and linear focus.
What he called robotism might better be called androidism in the wake
Blade Runner and the novels of Philip K. Dick. Robotism-androidism
emerges from the further development of the right hemisphere of the
brain, creativity and a new relationship to spacetime (most humans are
still living in 17th century classical Newtonian physics spacetime).
Robots-androids will have much greater flexibility than humans have
had until now, in both mind and body. Robots-androids will teach
humanity this new flexibility. And this flexibility of androids (what
McLuhan calls robotism) has a strong affinity with Japanese culture
and life. McLuhan quotes from Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the
Sword, an anthropological study of Japanese culture published in 1946:
“Occidentals cannot easily credit the ability of the Japanese to
swing from one behavior to another without psychic cost. Such extreme
possibilities are not included in our experience. Yet in Japanese life
the contradictions, as they seem to us, are as deeply based in their
view of life as our uniformities are in ours.” The ability to
live in the present and instantly readjust.
Beyond existing communication models
"All Western scientific models of communication are—like the
Shannon–Weaver model—linear, sequential, and logical as a
reflection of the late medieval emphasis on the Greek notion of
efficient causality." McLuhan and Powers criticize the
Shannon-Weaver model of communication as emblematic of left-hemisphere
bias and linearity, descended from Aristotelean causality.
A third term of The Global Village that McLuhan and Powers develop at
length is The Tetrad. The tetrad is something like threads in a
complexly interwoven flowing superspace, a four-fold pattern of
transformation. "At full maturity the tetrad reveals the metaphoric
structure of the artifact as having two figures and two grounds in
dynamic and analogical relationship to each other."  Like the
camera focused on the Earth by the Apollo 8 astronauts, the tetrad
reveals figure (Moon) and ground (Earth) simultaneously. The
right-brain hemisphere thinking is the capability of being in many
places at the same time. Electricity is acoustic. It is simultaneously
everywhere. The Tetrad, with its fourfold Möbius topological
structure of enhancement, reversal, retrieval and obsolescence, is
mobilized by McLuhan and Powers to illuminate the media or
technological inventions of cash money, the compass, the computer, the
database, the satellite, and the global media network.
Tetrad of media effects
Main article: Tetrad of media effects
In Laws of Media (1988), published posthumously by his son Eric,
McLuhan summarized his ideas about media 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 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 centre. 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.
A blank tetrad diagram
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
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
Main article: Figure and ground (media)
McLuhan adapted the
Gestalt psychology 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 in order to grasp fully 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
analysed together. He believed that an examination of the
figure-ground relationship can offer a critical commentary on culture
A portion of Toronto's St. Joseph Street is co-named Marshall McLuhan
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.[according to whom?] This publicity began with the
work of two California advertising executives,
Howard Gossage and
Gerald Feigen who used personal funds 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 and Newsweek, 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 and Ramparts magazine. More significant was the
presence at the festival of Tom Wolfe, who wrote about McLuhan in a
subsequent article, "What If He Is Right?", published in New York
Magazine and Wolfe's own The Pump House Gang. According to Feigen and
Gossage, their work had only a moderate effect on McLuhan's eventual
celebrity: they 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 magazine published a lengthy
interview with him. In a running gag on the popular sketch comedy
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the "poet"
Henry Gibson would randomly
say, "Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin'?"
McLuhan was credited with coining the phrase Turn on, tune in, drop
out by its popularizer, Timothy Leary, in the 1960s. In a 1988
interview with Neil Strauss, 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, Jean
Baudrillard, Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, William Irwin Thompson,
Paul Levinson, Douglas Rushkoff, Jaron Lanier, Hugh Kenner, and John
David Ebert, as well as political leaders such as Pierre Elliott
Trudeau and Jerry Brown.
Andy Warhol was paraphrasing McLuhan with
his now famous "15 minutes of fame" quote. When asked in the 1970s for
a way to sedate violences in Angola, he suggested a massive spread of
TV devices. The character "Brian O'Blivion" in David Cronenberg's
Videodrome is a "media oracle" based on McLuhan. In
1991, McLuhan was named as the "patron saint" of Wired Magazine 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-penned lyric in the song "Broadway Melody of 1974". This song
appears on the concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, from
progressive rock band Genesis. The lyric is: "Marshall McLuhan, casual
viewin' head buried in the sand." McLuhan is also jokingly referred to
during an episode of
The Sopranos entitled "House Arrest". 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,
formed soon after his death in 1980, was the successor to McLuhan's
Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. Since
1994, it has been part of the University of
Toronto Faculty of
Information and in 2008 the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology
incorporated in the Coach House Institute. The first director was
literacy scholar and OISE Professor David R. Olsen. From 1983 until
2008, the McLuhan Program was under the direction of Dr. Derrick de
Kerckhove who was McLuhan's student and translator. From 2008 through
2015 Professor Dominique Scheffel-Dunand of
York University served
Director of the Program. In 2011 at the time of his centenary the
Coach House Institute established a
Marshall McLuhan Centenary
Fellowship program in his honor, and each year appoints up to four
fellows for a maximum of two years. In May 2016 the Coach House
Institute was renamed the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology;
its Interim Director was
Seamus Ross (2015–16). Sarah Sharma, an
Associate Professor of Media Theory from the Institute of
Information and Technology (ICCIT) and the
Information (St. George), began a five-year term as
director of the Coach House (2017- ). Professor Sharma's research and
teaching focuses on feminist approaches to technology, including
issues related to temporality and media. Professor Sharma's thematic
for the 2017-2018 Monday Night Seminars at the McLuhan Centre is
Understanding Media which extends and introduces feminist approaches
to technology to McLuhan's formulations of technology and culture.
Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School
Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School is named after
This is a partial list of works cited in this article. See
Bibliography of Marshall McLuhan for a more comprehensive list of
works by and about McLuhan.
1951 The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man; 1st ed.: The
Vanguard Press, NY; reissued by Gingko Press, 2002.
1962 The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man; 1st ed.:
Toronto Press; reissued by Routledge & Kegan Paul.
1964 Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man; 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 with Quentin
Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel; 1st ed.: Random House; reissued by
Gingko Press, 2001. ISBN 1-58423-070-3.
War and Peace in the Global Village
War and Peace in the Global Village design/layout by Quentin
Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel; 1st ed.: Bantam, NY; reissued by
Gingko Press, 2001. ISBN 1-58423-074-6.
Archetype with Wilfred Watson; Viking, NY.
1988 McLuhan, Marshall and Eric. Laws of Media. University of Toronto
Press. ISBN 0-8020-5782-9.
Marshall McLuhan and Robert K. Logan. "The Future of the Library:
From Electronic Media to Digital Media." Peter Lang.
Coupland, Douglas. Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan. Penguin
Canada, 2009; US edition: Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of my
Work!. Atlas & Company, 2011.
Gordon, W. Terrence. Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding: A
Biography. Basic Books, 1997. ISBN 0-465-00549-7.
Robert K. Logan. McLuhan Misunderstood: Setting the Record Straight.
Toronto: Key Publishing House, 2013.
Marchand, Philip. Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger.
Random House, 1989; Vintage, 1990; The MIT Press; Revised edition,
1998. ISBN 0-262-63186-5
Molinaro, Matie; Corinne McLuhan; and William Toye, eds. Letters of
Marshall McLuhan. Toronto:
Oxford University Press, 1987,
^ Kroker, Arthur (1984). Technology and the Canadian Mind:
Innis/McLuhan/Grant. Montreal: New World Perspectives. p. 73.
hdl:1828/7129 . ISBN 978-0-920393-14-7.
^ "Programming: Getting the Message". Time. October 13, 1967.
Retrieved 3 March 2011.
^ "Television: Dann v. Klein: The Best Game in Town". Time. May 25,
1970. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
^ a b Levinson, Paul (1999). Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the
Information Millennium. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19251-X.
^ Plummer, Kevin. "Historicist: Marshall McLuhan, Urban Activist".
www.torontoist.com. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
^ Stille, Alexander (14 October 2000). "
Marshall McLuhan Is Back From
the Dustbin of History; With the Internet, His Ideas Again Seem Ahead
of Their Time". The New York Times. p. 9. Retrieved 10 March
^ Beale, Nigel (28 February 2008). "Living in Marshall McLuhan's
galaxy". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
^ a b c Wolf, Gary (January 1996). "The Wisdom of Saint Marshall, the
Holy Fool". Wired 4.01. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
^ Boxer, Sarah (3 April 2003). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; McLuhan's Messages,
Echoing On Iraq". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 10 March
^ Gordon, pp. 99–100.
^ Marchand (1998), p. 20.
^ Edan, Tina (2003). "St Marshall, Mass and the Media: Catholicism,
Media Theory and Marshall McLuhan", p. 10. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
^ Edan (2003), p. 11.
^ Gordon (1997), p. 34
^ Marchand (1998), p.32
^ Gordon, p. 40; McLuhan later commented "One advantage we Westerners
have is that we're under no illusion we've had an education. That's
why I started at the bottom again." Marchand (1990), p 30.
^ Marchand, p. 33–34
^ Marchand, pp. 37–47.
^ a b c d e f g Old Messengers, New Media: The Legacy of Innis and
McLuhan, a virtual museum exhibition at Library and Archives Canada
^ a b Gordon, p. 94.
^ Gordon, pp. 69–70.
^ Gordon, p. 54–56.
^ Lewis H. Lapham, Introduction to
Understanding Media (First MIT
Press Edition), p. xvii
^ McLuhan, Marshall. "Letter to Elsie McLuhan", September 5, 1935.
Molinaro et alia (1987), p. 73.
^ Gordon, p.74, gives the date as March 25; Marchand (1990), p.44,
gives it as March 30.
^ Marchand (1990), pp. 44–45.
^ Marchand (1990), p. 45.
^ Gordon, p. 75
^ Associates speculated about his intellectual connection to the
Virgin Mary, one saying, "He had a direct connection with the Blessed
Virgin Mary.... He alluded to it very briefly once, almost fearfully,
in a please-don't-laugh-at-me tone. He didn't say, 'I know this
Blessed Virgin Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary told me,' but it was clear from what
he said that one of the reasons he was so sure about certain things
was that the Virgin had certified his understanding of them." (cited
in Marchand, p. 51).
^ Marchand, p. 48
^ Fitterman, Lisa (2008-04-19). "She was Marshall McLuhan's great love
ardent defender, supporter and critic". Globe and Mail. Toronto.
Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
^ Gordon, p. 115.
^ McLuhan, Marshall. (2005)
Marshall McLuhan Unbound. Corte Madera,
CA : Gingko Press v. 8, p. 8. This is a reprint of McLuhan's
introduction to the 1964 edition of Innis's book The Bias of
Communication first published in 1951.
^ Prins and Bishop 2002
^ During the time at Fordham University, his son Eric McLuhan
conducted what came to be known as the
Fordham Experiment about the
different effects of "light-on" versus "light-through" media.
Order of Canada
Order of Canada citation
^ University of
Toronto Bulletin, 1979; Martin Friedland, The
University of Toronto: A History, University of
Toronto Press, 2002
^ Whitman, Alden (January 1, 1981). "Marshall McLuhan, Author, Dies;
Declared 'Medium Is the Message'". The New York Times. Retrieved 19
^ McLuhan's doctoral dissertation from 1942 was published by Gingko
Press in March 2006. Gingko Press also plans to publish the complete
manuscript of items and essays that McLuhan prepared, only a selection
of which were published in his book. With the publication of these two
books a more complete picture of McLuhan's arguments and aims is
likely to emerge.
^ For a nuanced account of McLuhan's thought regarding Richards and
Leavis, see McLuhan's "Poetic and Rhetorical Exegesis: The Case for
Leavis against Richards and Empson" in the Sewanee Review, volume 52,
number 2 (1944): 266–76.
^ The phrase "the medium is the message" may be better understood in
light of Bernard Lonergan's further articulation of related ideas: at
the empirical level of consciousness, the medium is the message,
whereas at the intelligent and rational levels of consciousness, the
content is the message. This sentence uses Lonergan's terminology from
Insight: A Study of Human Understanding to clarify the meaning of
McLuhan's statement that "the medium is the message"; McLuhan read
this when it was first published in 1957 and found "much sense" in
it—in his letter of September 21, 1957, to his former student and
friend, Walter J. Ong, S.J., McLuhan says, "Find much sense in Bern.
Lonergan's Insight" (Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987: 251).
Lonergan's Insight is an extended guide to "making the inward turn":
attending ever more carefully to one's own consciousness, reflecting
on it ever more carefully, and monitoring one's articulations ever
more carefully. When McLuhan declares that he is more interested in
percepts than concepts, he is declaring in effect that he is more
interested in what Lonergan refers to as the empirical level of
consciousness than in what Lonergan refers to as the intelligent level
of consciousness in which concepts are formed, which Lonergan
distinguishes from the rational level of consciousness in which the
adequacy of concepts and of predications is adjudicated. This inward
turn to attending to percepts and to the cultural conditioning of the
empirical level of consciousness through the effect of communication
media sets him apart from more outward-oriented studies of
sociological influences and the outward presentation of self carried
out by George Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, Berger and Luckmann,
Kenneth Burke, Hugh Duncan, and others.
^ Plummer, Kevin (May 3, 2014). "Historicist: Explorations at the
Vanguard of Communications Studies". Torontoist. Retrieved August 3,
^ Wolfe, Tom (December 2015). "
Tom Wolfe on Media, Advertising,
Technology (1999)". C-SPAN. Retrieved 23 April 2017. 45m
^ Gutenberg Galaxy 1962, p. 41.
^ Gutenberg Galaxy pp. 124–26.
^ Gutenberg Galaxy p. 154.
^ Wyndham Lewis's America and Cosmic Man (1948) and James Joyce's
Finnegans Wake are sometimes credited as the source of the phrase, but
neither used the words "global village" specifically as such.
According to McLuhan's son Eric McLuhan, his father, a Wake scholar
and a close friend of Lewis, likely discussed the concept with Lewis
during their association, but there is no evidence that he got the
idea or the phrasing from either; McLuhan is generally credited as
having coined the term.
Eric McLuhan (1996). "The source of the term 'global village'".
McLuhan Studies (issue 2). Retrieved 2008-12-30.
^ Gutenberg Galaxy p. 32.
^ Gutenberg Galaxy p. 158.
^ Gutenberg Galaxy p. 254.
^ Getto, Erica. "The Medium is the Massage: Celebrating Marshall
McLuhan's Legacy". WNYC.org. Retrieved 2015-04-23. [permanent
^ America 107 (Sept. 15, 1962): 743, 747.
^ New Catholic Encyclopedia 8 (1967): 838.
^ Gordon, p. 109.
^ Marshall McLuhan,
Understanding Media (London: Routledge & Kegan
Paul, 1964), 4
^ Understanding Media, p. 8.
^ McLuhan, Understanding Media, 18, 20
^ Understanding Media, p. 22.
^ Understanding Media, p. 25.
^ "CBC Archives". Archives.cbc.ca. 2001-09-11. Retrieved
^ McLuhan, Marshall (March 1969). "The
Missing or empty url= (help)
^ a b Debray, Regis. "Media Manifestos" (PDF). Columbia University
Press. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
^ Joscelyne, Andrew. "Debray on Technology". Retrieved 2 November
^ a b c Mullen, Megan. "Coming to Terms with the Future He Foresaw:
Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media". Archived from the original on
5 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
^ Carr, David (January 6, 2011). "Marshall McLuhan: Media Savant". The
New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
^ Paul Grossweiler, The Method is the Message: Rethinking McLuhan
through Critical Theory (Montreal: Black Rose, 1998), 155-81
^ Paul Levinson, Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information
Millennium (New York: Routledge,1999), 30.
^ Marchand, p. 203
^ McLuhan & Fiore, 1967
^ According to McLuhan biographer W. Terrence Gordon, "by the time it
appeared in 1967, McLuhan no doubt recognized that his original saying
had become a cliché and welcomed the opportunity to throw it back on
the compost heap of language to recycle and revitalize it. But the new
title is more than McLuhan indulging his insatiable taste for puns,
more than a clever fusion of self-mockery and self-rescue—the
subtitle is 'An Inventory of Effects,' underscoring the lesson
compressed into the original saying." (Gordon, p. 175.) However, the
FAQ section on the website maintained by McLuhan's estate says that
this interpretation is incomplete and makes its own leap of logic as
to why McLuhan left it as is. "Why is the title of the book The Medium
Is the Massage and not The Medium is the Message? Actually, the title
was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter's, it had
on the cover 'Massage' as it still does. The title was supposed to
have read The Medium is the Message but the typesetter had made an
error. When McLuhan saw the typo he exclaimed, 'Leave it alone! It's
great, and right on target!' Now there are possible four readings for
the last word of the title, all of them accurate: Message and Mess
Age, Massage and Mass Age."
^ Understanding Media, p. 68.
^ The Medium is the Massage, pp 74,5
^ Marchand (1998), p.187.
^ War and Peace in the Global Village, p. 46.
^ "Watson, Wilfred". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the
original on 2 February 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
Cliché to Archetype, p. 4.
Cliché to Archetype, p. 99.
Cliché to Archetype, p. 5.
Cliché to Archetype, p. 9.
^ The Global Village, p. 74.
^ The Global Village, p. 75.
^ The Global Village, p. 76.
^ The Global Village, p. 77.
^ The Global Village, p. 78.
^ McLuhan, Eric (1998). Electric language: understanding the present.
Stoddart. ISBN 0-7737-5972-7. , p. 28
^ a b Marchand, pp. 183.
^ Rothenberg, Randall (1994). Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and
Death of an
Advertising Campaign. NY: Vintage Books, p. 188
^ Marchand, pp. 182–184.
Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan". Playboy. March 1969.
pp. 26–27, 45, 55–56, 61, 63.
^ Marchand (1998), p. 1.
^ Strauss, Neil. Everybody Loves You When You're Dead: Journeys into
Fame and Madness. New York: HarperCollins, 2011, p. 337–38
^ "It's cool not to shave – Marshall McLuhan, the Man and his
Message – CBC Archives". CBC News. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
^ Daniele Luttazzi, interview at
RAI Radio1 show Stereonotte Archived
2007-06-29 at the Wayback Machine., July 01 2007 2:00 am. Quote:
"McLuhan era uno che al premier canadese che si interrogava su un modo
per sedare dei disordini in Angola, McLuhan disse, negli anni 70,
'riempite la nazione di apparecchi televisivi'; ed è quello che venne
fatto; e la rivoluzione in
Angola cessò." (in Italian)
^ Lamberti, Elena. Marshall McLuhan's Mosaic: Probing the Literary
Origins of Media Studies. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 2012.
^ a b Wolf, Gary (January 1996). "Channeling McLuhan". Wired 4.01.
^ "Prof. Sarah Sharma Appointed Director of McLuhan Centre - McLuhan
Centre for Culture and Technology". McLuhan Centre for Culture and
Technology. 2016-12-13. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
^ "Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger".
Philipmarchand.com. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
Benedetti, Paul and Nancy DeHart. Forward Through the Rearview Mirror:
Reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan. Boston:The MIT Press, 1997.
Bobbitt, David. "Teaching McLuhan: Understanding Understanding Media."
Enculturation, December, 2011.
Carpenter, Edmund. "That Not-So-Silent Sea" [Appendix B]. In The
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:
Toronto Press, 2002.
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.
Finkelstein, Sidney Walter. "
Sense and Nonsense of McLuhan."
International Publishers Co, 1968.
Flahiff, F. T. Always Someone to Kill the Doves: A Life of Sheila
Watson. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2005.
Gasher, M., Skinner, D., & Lorimer, R. (2016). Mass Communication
in Canada (8th ed.).
Oxford University Press.
Giddings, Seth. The New Media and Technocultures Reader. Routledge,
Havers, Grant N. "
Marshall McLuhan and the Machiavellian Use of
Religious Violence." In Faith, War, and Violence. Vol. 39 of Religion
and Public Life, edited by Gabriel R. Ricci. New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction Publishers, 2014. pp. 179–203.
Levinson, Paul. 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
Logan, Robert K.. Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan.
New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1st edition 2010, 2nd edition 2016.
Logan, Robert K.. McLuhan Misunderstood: Setting the Record Straight".
Toronto: The Key Publishing House.
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).
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.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Marshall McLuhan
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marshall McLuhan.
Marshall McLuhan on IMDb
"James Feeley fonds". University of St. Michael's College, John M.
Kelly Library. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
Marshall McLuhan Collection". University of St. Michael's
College, John M. Kelly Library. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
The Mechanical Bride
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Medium Is the Massage
War and Peace in the Global Village
Cliché to Archetype
Figure and ground
"The medium is the message"
Tetrad of media effects
Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan
McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology
Eric McLuhan (son)
Derrick de Kerckhove
Robert K. Logan
B. W. Powe
"Turn on, tune in, drop out"
24-hour news cycle
Cult of personality
Managing the news
Theodor W. Adorno
Influence of mass media
The Lonely Crowd
Concentration of media ownership
Freedom of speech
Society of the Spectacle
History of communication
Intercultural / Interpersonal / Intrapersonal communication
Models of communication
Text and conversation theory
Mediated cross-border communication
Philosophy of language
Sociology of culture
ISNI: 0000 0001 2117 1501
BNF: cb11913739r (data)
^ "Edmund carpenter : Explorations in Media & Anthropology"
(PDF). Media-generation.com. Retrieved