Whatcha doin’ Marshall McLuhan?

CLA Conference display and session feature this “Winnipeg Boy who made Good”

Marshall McLuhan is one of the topics of the upcoming CLA Conference to be held in Winnipeg.  (Photo published under Creative Commons license through Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number PA-165118 and under the MIKAN ID number 4170003)

Marshall McLuhan reflected in a mirror. McLuhan is one of the topics of the upcoming CLA Conference to be held in Winnipeg. (Photo published under Creative Commons license through Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number PA-165118 and under the MIKAN ID number 4170003)

Remember Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In (originally broadcast on NBC 1968-1973)? Cast member Goldie Hawn asked “Whatcha doin’ Marshall McLuhan?” during his heyday. So who was McLuhan and what’s he doin’ back in Winnipeg?

Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) is one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. Born in Edmonton, raised in Winnipeg, he graduated from the University of Manitoba and Cambridge University, became a devout Catholic, a beloved professor of English literature and founding Director of the Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. He’s known for his prophetic poetry, satiric observations, and explorations (“probes”) into the effects of communications media on society. His most famous aphorism “The medium is the message” and percept of “the global village” are integral parts of the English language.

The Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba is convening a Canadian Library Association (CLA) Conference session called “McLuhan, Books & Libraries: an Old Figure in a New Ground” from 1-2 p.m. on Thurs., May 30/13 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. It will be given by McLuhan friend and collaborator Dr. Robert (“Bob”) K. Logan, Chief Scientist, Ontario College of Art & Design and Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Toronto. As this session description states, “McLuhan … had some interesting, useful and even infuriating things to say about books and libraries [e.g. “The book is obsolete”]. Ironically, these ideas have not yet been published, but exist as a manuscript co-authored by Bob Logan. Join Logan as he provides a tantalizing, humorous and poignant insider’s look into McLuhan and his ideas.”

For the CLA Conference, the McLuhan Initiative is also curating a Winnipeg-focused McLuhan display at the Elizabeth Dafoe Library entitled, “Marshall McLuhan: a Winnipeg boy who made good“. This title is inspired by McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand, author of the first full-length McLuhan biography, Marshall McLuhan: the Medium and the Messenger (1989) who inscribed two copies of his book for the Director of the Initiative with this quote.

mcluhan2Red River College Library holds many works by and about McLuhan, such as:

To probe McLuhan further, try:

“You don’t like those ideas? I got others.” – Marshall McLuhan

  • Can Li

    Awesome!

  • Howard R. Engel

    Hi Can:

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, the more I probe McLuhan and his ideas, the more awesome I find he was.

    Regards,
    Howard

  • i believe the quote if the playboy interview [http://www.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/classes/188/spring07/mcluhan.pdf]from March 69 is to be believed it’s Henry Gibson. So there was a one hour conference with Bob Logan, I uploaded a video about the connection between the misunderstood aphorism on the same day.

  • Howard R. Engel

    Thanks for posting the video and also for your comment, Robert acknowledging Henry Gibson’s oft repeated one-liner, “Marshall McLuhan, whatcha doin’?” on “Laugh-In”. Goldie Hawn’s giggly flipped “bumper sticker” version “Whatcha doin’ Marshall McLuhan?” in the very same TV program was immortalized in the official McLuhan biography by W. Terrence Gordon, “Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding” (Toronto: Stoddart, 1997, p. 301) So it looks like we’re both right. — HRE

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