• Paul Barker, “Medium Rare” [review of Marshall McLuhan Unbound, ed. Eric McLuhan and W. Terrence Gordon (Gingko P, 2006)] Times Literary Supplement (17 March 2006): 3-4

“McLuhan, with a better feel for history than Baudrillard, would have been delighted that Peter Bazalgette, the ‘chief creative officer’ of the production company that makes Celebrity Big Brother, is the great grandson of Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer of genius who built Victorian London’s sewer system. Best to let the metaphor lie, and not take it as the cue for a sermon. McLuhan himself seldom sermonized. It was one of the objections his critics raised against him, especially at a time when what little discussion there was of the mass media consisted of finger-wagging. … In Britain , Raymond Williams gave The Gutenberg Galaxy a respectful review, but then changed his mind and led a political attack. He came to think that, in the right hands–perhaps through workers’ co-operatives within the television industry–the electronic media could be ‘the contemporary tools in the long revolution towards an educated and participatory democracy, and of the recovery of effective communication in complex urban and industrial societies’ (Television: Technology and cultural form, 1974). He rejected McLuhan’s hypothesis that the greatest power of such media lay in their overall modification of how people saw the world. To Williams, they were instruments which had direct effects, like a hammer or a scalpel, on what happened. McLuhan derided this kind of analysis as Marx and water. But in Media and Cultural Theory (2005), edited by James Curran and David Morley, … one essay still credits Williams with a ‘canonical dismissal’ of McLuhanism (it is good to think that the concept of a canon, much queried elsewhere, has a refuge in media studies departments). Another essay rejects ‘McLuhan’s fatalism’ (a mystifying accusation). From this and other media studies readers, I realize where those teenage Marxists who didn’t end up as New Labour stalwarts went to. It seems to be a narrow world, only talking to itself, which is paradoxical in the circumstances.”


  • Timothy C. Campbell, Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi (Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 2006)


“Although McLuhan was not the first to demonstrate how technology alters sense rations and patterns of perception (excluding Marinetti, Roman Jakobson’s 1919 study of Futurism perhaps deserves that honor), McLuhan was largely responsible for the important notion that media begin with physiological deficiencies. His categories of hot and cool were nothing less than an attempt to localize technological effects on sense media: radio ‘heats up’ the ears of listeners while the blind seem particularly adept at constructing typewriters.” (89)



 Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago: U Chicago P, 2006)

“[I]n the early 1960s, the linking of the global and the local helped account for much of Marshall McLuhan’s appeal within the emerging counterculture. McLuhan’s simultaneous celebration of new media and tribal social forms allowed people like Stewart Brand to imagine technology itself as a tool with which to resolve the twin cold war dilemmas of humanity’s fate and their own trajectory into adulthood. That is, McLuhan offered a vision in which young people who had been raised on rock and roll, television, and the associated pleasures of consumption need not give those pleasures up even if they rejected the adult society that had created them. Even if the social order of technocracy threatened the species with nuclear annihilation and the individual young person with psychic fragmentation, the media technologies produced by that order offered the possibility of individual and collective transformation. McLuhan’s dual emphases also allowed young people to imagine the local communities they built around these media not simply as communities built around consumption of industrial products, but as model communities for a new society. In McLuhan’s writing, and in the artistic practice of groups like USCO and, later, the psychedelic practices of groups like San Francisco’s Merry Pranksters, technologies produced by mass, industrial society offered the keys to transforming and thus to saving the adult world.” (54-55)

  • Robin C. Whitaker, “Postmodern Dis-Play: Staging the Mind of Marshall McLuhan,” Theatre Research in Canada 27.1 (2006) 100-122

“In terms of performance, McLuhan’s notion of the ‘global village’ is analogous to the postmodern notion of the stage as locus of ‘an avalanche of discourse’ (Pavis).” (104)