Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan.jpg
Marshall McLuhan, c. 1936
BornHerbert Marshall McLuhan
(1911-07-21)July 21, 1911
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
DiedDecember 31, 1980(1980-12-31) (aged 69)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
SchoolMedia theory, Toronto School of communication theory
Main interests
Media, sensorium, New Criticism
Notable ideas
The medium is the message, Global Village, hot and cool media

Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian Professor of English literature who turned his attention to media. He was interested in the ways different media affected society.

His work was a cornerstone of media studies, and had some practical applications in the advertising and television industries.[1] His best-known work was Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

McLuhan is known for coining the expressions the medium is the message and the global village.[2]Although he was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, his influence began to wane in the early 1970s.[3] In the years after his death, he continued to be a controversial figure in academic circles.[4] With the arrival of the internet, however, there was renewed interest in his work and perspective.[5][6][7]

The Gutenberg Galaxy

McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy: the making of typographic man (1962) was a history of print, and its effect on society.

In the book, McLuhan showed how alphabetic writing, the printing press and later media, affect thought, which in turn affects social organization:

"If 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".[8]p41

A typical idea:

  • The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village. Remember, this was written before anyone had any idea of the world wide web.[8]p31

His sayings range from the amusing:

  • Nobody ever made a grammatical error in a non-literate society.[8]p239

to the mysterious:

  • Typography cracked the voices of silence.[8]p251
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