1st Edition

Reading McLuhan Reading

Edited By Paula McDowell Copyright 2023
    176 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Sixty years after Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan remains one of the best known and most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century. Far beyond academia, readers (and non-readers) recognize his coinages, such as ‘the Gutenberg era’, the ‘global village’ and ‘the medium is the message'. A literary scholar by profession, McLuhan was one of the first academics to recognize the new opportunities offered by radio and television to reach audiences beyond the readerships of scholarly journals. His talks and appearances ushered in public intellectual debate concerning the ‘electronic age’. Although his reputation waned in the 1970s, the recent making-available to the public of his extraordinary personal library of some six thousand books enables new kinds of analyses of McLuhan as a reader, thinker, and cultural force. The essays here focus not so much on his media theory per se as on the habits and practices that animated his reading, and on the larger questions of what reading and not reading mean. We don’t need to agree with everything McLuhan says to make valuable use of his work. New resources offer us an unprecedented opportunity to revisit one fallible human reader whose texts and ideas are good to think with (and against). This book was originally published as a special issue of the journal, Textual Practice.

    1. Introduction: Reading McLuhan reading (and not reading)

    Paula McDowell

    2. Enter through the book shop: McLuhan monograffiti

    Andrew McLuhan

    3. Watching readers reading

    Adrian Johns

    4. ‘Good heavens! that’s where I got it!’ McLuhan reads Wyndham Lewis

    Paul Edwards

    5. Cliché and repetition: McLuhan understanding modernism

    Peter Nicholls

    6. Reading Ong reading McLuhan

    John Guillory

    7. When the medium is war: Marshall McLuhan, media, and militarisation

    Patrick Deer

    8. Imagining Marshall McLuhan as a digital reader: an experiment in applied Joyce

    Alan Galey

    9. Afterword: Exit this way: afterward

    Lisa Gitelman



    Paula McDowell is Professor of English at New York University, USA. Known for her groundbreaking archival research, her latest book, The Invention of the Oral: Print Commerce and Fugitive Voices in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2017), won the John Ben Snow Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies. She is currently writing an archivally-based book on McLuhan’s women.