Go to Biographical Note
Go to Lecture: One or Two or Three or Four or Five or Six or Seven or Eight
Go to Cyber Semiotic Institute Home Page
Go to Semiotic Review of Books Home Page

McLuhan, Baudrillard and Cultural Theory

Instructor: Gary Genosko

Course Description

For better and for worse, a McLuhan renaissance is in full swing. I provide a theoretical and historical context for understanding this second coming by examining the debates of the 1960s and 1970s in France and Québec concerning the effects of McLuhanism. The bridge between McLuhanism then and now is established through a close examination of the key postmodern vector of transmission in the writings of Jean Baudrillard. McLuhanism's latency period in the 1980s corresponds to the pop intellectual phenomenon known as the Baudrillard Scene. The McLuhan renaissance is an effect of postmodern cultural theory tied to the emergence of new information technologies in general and to Baudrillard's appropriations, distortions, and dissemination of concepts taken from McLuhan such as participation, reversibility, speed, the 'tribal', the mass, models of historical phases, and most importantly, implosion. For McLuhan and Baudrillard are the masters of implosion.


Course Outline

In my introductory lecture I sketch out some of the main features of the McLuhan renaissance and the approach I will develop.

Lectures 2, 3, and 4 deal with McLuhan's French revolution in terms of its relation to the problems of écriture and the end of the book, the class struggles around who may claim whom as an intellectual, and the rhetorical practices of legitimation tied to figuring McLuhan not only as a structuralist, but as a postmodernist before the letter.

Lectures 5, 6, and 7 bear upon specific relationships between concepts employed by McLuhan and in what way they are seized upon by Baudrillard. I will conclude this course of lectures with a series of reflections on the formative roles played by McLuhan and Baudrillard in the rise of cultural theory as fiction.

A running bibliographic commentary will be posted. Some familiarity with the writings of both McLuhan and Baudrillard is presupposed, as is some knowledge of the central themes of postmodernism, although key concepts will be explained and contextualized along the way. This series of lectures offers, then, a critical contextualization and examination, rather than a celebration, of closely related pop intellectual phenomena by drawing upon a diverse range of French and English source materials. A reading knowledge of French is not necessary, although it would prove to be useful for those undertaking independent research into the bibliographic materials.


Send comments or questions to Gary Genosko: genosko@mist.lakeheadu.ca

copyright 1998, Gary Genosko.
Go to Biographical Note
Go to Lecture: One or Two or Three or Four or Five or Six or Seven or Eight
Go to Cyber Semiotic Institute Home Page
Go to Semiotic Review of Books Home Page