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By Graeme Patterson

This provocative essay makes use of as a foundation the paintings of 2 towering figures in Canadian highbrow background: Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan. Graeme Patterson questions traditional realizing of the concept of Innis and McLuhan and the connection among their work.

Historians have more often than not thought of communications a space specific from (and beside the point to) their very own. Harold Innis is mostly considered as having moved from the sector of Canadian historical past in his early paintings to non-Canadian heritage and communications. the excellence, Patterson indicates, is fake; either the early and the overdue paintings of Innis are within the box of communications and, certainly, so is the research of historical past itself.

Using nineteenth-century top Canadian political background as a spotlight, Patterson applies communications concept to such customary topics because the family members Compact, accountable govt, and the uprising of 1837, and indicates how Canadian opinion was once generated and formed by means of media of conversation. either Innis and McLuhan held that the applied sciences of writing and printing conditioned and dependent human realization, leading to 'literal mindedness.' utilizing that perception, Patterson explores the considering 19th- and twentieth-century writers of Canadian background, together with Donald Creighton, J.M.S. Careless, and Chester Martin.

In his problem to long-standing perspectives, Patterson bargains a brand new approach of knowing the paintings of 2 key thinkers, and new how one can take into consideration communications idea, Canadian heritage, historiography, and heritage as a discipline.

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Extra info for History and Communications: Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan : The Interpretation of History

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13 One can but speculate as to the outcome if this latter work had received the attention of McFarlane; but the difference would surely have been consid- McLuhan and Others on Innis / 31 erable. One must also remember that all the rest of the late work consisted of articles republished in book form. By their very nature these books would have been even less subject to editorial alteration. Much further light has been cast on these problems by the posthumous publication of Innis's 'Idea File,' a work that only became generally available in 1980, the year of McLuhan's own death.

One felt that he had collected, carded and spun the fibres and that then the artist in him had responded by composing the coherent design that their nature commanded. '37 'As western Canadians know and have come to protest,' he added, 'it substanti- 44 / History and Communications ated the Laurentian hypothesis of Canada's evolution that the geographer Marion I. ' Brebner, himself a quite orthodox scholar, appreciated that the originality of Innis proceeded from an unorthodox methodology related to peculiar modes of thought.

In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. 46 But out of this same environment emerged self-reliance, individualism, and American-style democracy. Doctrine of this sort had great national appeal in the United States; and, for a time, it appealed also to Canadian historians. Did it not, after all, suggest a new and interesting approach to the coureurde bois, voyageur, and habitant of New France? Indeed, what group of American settlers was more prone than they to have fitted themselves into Indian clearings and to have fol- 48 / History and Communications lowed Indian trails?

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