Marshall McLuhan





Com Arts 160


September 9, 2004


Marshall McLuhan was known as a visionary educator of mass media. Born on July 21, 1911 in Edmonton, Alberta, Marshall had the remarkable capability to memorize and recite poetry, monologs and speeches. He acquired such a talent from his mother, an elocutionist who was known for her theatrical performances in theater and local churches. At first Marshall wanted to become and engineer, though his mind quickly changed after he began attending the University of Manitoba. There he fell in love with literature and preceded to major in English and Philosophy. He furthered his education by attending the graduate school at Cambridge University, which opened a door towards his study of madia analysis.


In 1936 Marshall McLuhan began teaching at the University of Wisconsin. There he discovered that even though he was only five to eight years older then his students, it seemed that they where a whole new generation. He saw this generational gap resulted from the different methods of learning, and after intense investigation he felt that in order to get through to his students he had to study their popular culture. He proceeded to teach in Catholic Universities while earning his PHD.


Nineteen fifty one, became a significantly important year for Marshall. The release of his first book The Mechanical Bride, an analysis of the social and psychological pressures generated by the mass madia, which won Marshall a chairmanship of a Ford Foundation seminar and 40,000 dollars grant to further his research. In 1959 he became involved with the Madia Project of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, and the US Office of Education. At this point of his career he was already teaching at the University of Toronto, where he would remain until the end of his career. Due to his hard work, Marshall obtained the title of " philosopher of communication". He opened the Center for Culture and Technology in 1963 in a small house based on the Universities of Toronto’ s campus. There he researched the effects of electronic technology on the human community.


By the end of the 1960's Marshall McLuhan became famous after the publication of his book The Medium is the Message. His ideas were broadcasted on TV, which earned him the title of " prince of pop culture". Marshals work was published in over 20 languages as he became a common household topic of discussion. By the 1970' his fame wore off. He began working with his son Eric on his synthesis which emphasized on what he called "the laws of madia".


In 1979 Marshall McLuhan suffered a severe stroke, which left him with out the capability to speak. He died on December 31, 1979, but his legacy still lives on in his work. After his death new additions of his books were published, as well as several books about his life and research. He remains an educator to those studying communication arts. The Center for Culture and Technology still exists today, providing information to the next generations to come.