Marshall McLuhan's Mosaic: Probing the Literary Origins of Media Studies

Marshall McLuhan's Mosaic: Probing the Literary Origins of Media Studies

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By Elena Lamberti
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2012
World Rights
320 Pages
ISBN 9781442609884
Published Feb 2012
Online discount: 15%
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ISBN 9781442640139
Published Mar 2012
Online discount: 25%
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442661233
Published Feb 2012
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One hundred years after Marshall McLuhan’s birth, Elena Lamberti explores a fundamental, yet neglected aspect of his work: the solid humanistic roots of his original ‘mosaic’ form of writing. In this investigation of how his famous communication theories were influenced by literature and the arts, Lamberti proposes a new approach to McLuhan’s thought.

Lamberti delves into McLuhan’s humanism in light of his work on media and culture, exploring how he began to perceive literature not just as a subject, but a ‘function inseparable from communal existence.’ Lamberti pays particular attention to the central role played by Modernism in the making of his theories, including the writings of Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis. Reconnecting McLuhan with his literary past, Marshall McLuhan’s Mosaic is a demonstration of one of his greatest ideas: that literature not only matters, but can help us understand the hidden patterns that rule our environment.

Elena Lamberti is a research professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Bologna.



'April is the cruellest month …'
Look Backward, Enquire Farther

1. A Renewed Approach to Marshall McLuhan's Poetics

From Figure to Ground
What Was THAT? McLuhan's 'Little Point'
Pointing to Action: This Book
Digging the Ground
Hey, Marshall McLuhan, What Were You Doin'?
Oh, What a Seer He Was!
The Electric/Eclectic Humanist
Learning the Grammar
Post-literate 'Paideia'
From Integral Awareness to Storytelling


2. Towards Post-Secondary Orality: The Mosaic

Embodying McLuhan
Casting the Hybrid
Substantial Discontinuity
What's in a Probe?
Playing with Form
Render Not Narrate
McLuhan's Interactive Mosaic or Post-Secondary Orality

3. Thus Spoke the Oracle

Oracular Pronouncements
Interfacing Orality and Literacy
Performative Storytelling

4. Let the Guru Resound

The Gurus' Guru
Redefining Space
Holistic Mosaic: Western Science, Eastern Philosophies
Touch-A Touch-A Touch the Guru

5. A Conscious Modernist Craftsman

A Pioneer of (New) Modernist Studies
Universal Quest, Fragmented Rendering
To Make You Feel: Probing through Language

6. The Hyper-Language of the Media 'Fan'

Media Fan or Grammarian of Media?
Hypertexting the Mosaic
De-hypertexting the Mosaic
Electrifying Hybrid


7. McLuhan and Media Studies

Labelling the Media Theorist
Evolutionary Grammarian
A Political Thomist
A Classic Modernist

8. From Literature to Media Studies

Conscious Planning
Practical Mystics
From Renaissance to Modernism
On a Mission

9. Ford Madox Ford: 'Not Mere Chat'

Literature Matters
An Imaginative Writer
Things, Not Words
Comparing Strategies
Rendering Change
Ford's The Fifth Queen: Probing the Making of the Gutenberg Galaxy

10. James Joyce: Vivisecting Society

Applied Joyce
Sci-Fi Phantasmagoria
Grotesque Vivisection
Newspaperwise Attack

11. Ezra Pound: Pursuing Persuasion, Translating Cultures

Epical News
From Old to New Learning 196 (Ideo)Grammatic Baedeker
Totalitarian Craft?

12. Wyndham Lewis: Blasting Time, Blessing Space

A Proto-postmodernist
From Time to Space
Experiencing Arrest


13. Literature and Media: A Round Trip

Engaging with or Applying McLuhan?
'Visual Literate' Forms
Masking the Guru
Actual Sci-Fi
Rear-View Mirrors
Performing Presence
Pathological Narcissuses
Charismatic Flesh

Epilogue: Witty Fool or Foolish Wit?

Merging Right and Left
Coda: Enters the Fool, Exit All Others



Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology (United States) - Winner in 2016