Week 3 (Sept. 8-12)

The Medium Is the Massage

“In today’s ECO-world of electric information that flows unceasingly upon us from every side, we all encounter the predicament of Alice in Wonderland. Now effects merge with causes instantly through speedup, while ‘software’ etherializes ‘hardware’ by design. All rigid distinctions between thinker and doer, observer and observed, object and subject are being eroded by the ‘rim-spin’ of electric media. Old ground rules and human perceptions are being transformed by this new resonant surround where nothing is table but change itself. But like water to a fish, the environment we live in remains hidden. Only children and artists see ‘the emperor’s new clothes’.” – Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt, “The Argument: Causality in the Electric World” 1

“Acoustic space, pattern recognition: boundless, infinite play of text and thought – that’s what you need to think about when you listen to this album. 2 The record version of the “Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects” project was meant to embody some of the issues that the graphic design and radical use of new fonts and images to enhance the text of the book and create a dynamic linkage between how the collision of fonts and graphics would work and how they could be represented in sound.” – Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid


  • Literacy Practices: 10:00 PM, Mon., 8 Sept.
  • Reading Response post: 10:00 PM, Wed., 10 Sept.
  • Community Response post: 10:00 PM, Sat., 13 Sept.
    • Group 1 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 3.
    • Group 2 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 4.
    • Group 3 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 1.
    • Group 4 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 2.
  • Participation posts (3): During the week.


  • Read lecture posts for the week. The most recent lectures can always be found on the front page for the course or using the Lecture category. Short lectures will be posted throughout the week.
  • Review and begin weekly Participation assignment forum posts.
  • Reading Response and Community Response blog posts (Online Writing Activities).
  • With your book in hand, listen to the The Medium Is the Massage, Lecture 5: pp. 80-160. (Available by 10:00 PM Wednesday, Sept. 10.)
  • Review the McLuhan Project and work on the McLuhan Proposal. Proposals are due 10:00 PM, Sept. 15.
  • Graduate students: Continue working on the Annotated Bibliography assignment. Due: Dec. 2, 10:00 PM.


Optional Texts (strongly recommended)

  • McMahon, Kevin. McLuhan’s Wake. 2002. (Online video, 1 hour 44 minutes.)
  • McLuhan, Marshall and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage. 1967. New York: Columbia. LP.4
    • Side A [Audio, 19 min. 22 sec.]
    • Side B [Audio, 23 min. 17 sec.]
  1. McLuhan Unbound. Vol. 3.
  2. You can listen to the record version of The Medium Is the Massage at UbuWeb Sound – Marshall McLuhan.
  3. Paul Miller/DJ Spooky on the rerelease of The Medium Is the Massage record.
  4. This is the audio version Paul Miller discusses in “Dead Simple: Marshall McLuhan and the ARt of the Record,” hosted at the McLuhan section of UbuWeb Sound.

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