Andrew McLuhan Teaches Understanding Media Intensive: Part Three

Andrew McLuhan Teaches Understanding Media Intensive: Part Three

Understanding Media Intensive: Part Three is a 13-part intensive look at the last third of media theorist Marshall McLuhan‘s major 1964 work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man taking place online over the course of 13 weeks. Taught by Andrew McLuhan, Director of The McLuhan Institute, UMI III will focus on chapters 21-33 of the book.

In an age where our media environment conditions and structures our reality in increasingly potent ways, Understanding Media provides important foundational knowledge on how our cultural traumas and tropes are embodied in technologies. This course will provide lecture and discussion on Part Three of the book, which puts forth a set of tools for exploring human technologies and innovations as a means to regain agency in the midst of our increasingly disorienting online lives.

This course follows UMI Part One and Two, which ran in the spring and fall of 2022. UMI III picks up at the beginning of Chapter 21, and will conclude at the end of the book, with Chapter 33. Lectures will include explorations and explanations of never-before-seen author annotations, historical documents, and personal accounts. A scrapbook of materials around the publication of the book in 1964 compiled by Marshall’s wife Corinne McLuhan, containing reviews and interviews, will add further context to how the book was received and provide insight into the material under discussion.

Classes will be streamed live on Thursdays, from March 23, to June 15, 2023, starting at 5:00pm PST / 8:00pm EDT, and ending no later than 8:00pm PST / 11:00pm EDT.

Course Logistics

Dates: Thursdays, from March 23 – June 15, 2023

Times: 5:00pm – 8:00pm PT / 8:00pm – 11:00pm ET


Live Access – $600 Live Access is full access to UMI Part Two classes as they happen, includes recordings to review what’s been covered already this term, live chat and engagement in weekly classes.

Audit Access – $360Audit Access is access to UMI II as view/listen only. This is ideal for those in time zones which do not agree with that of the class, and is also a lower-cost option. Audit Access is also ideal for those who did not attend UMI Part One but want to join now.

We also offer Diversity Scholarships. Apply here.

No refunds.
View our FAQ page for more info.

Course Requirements

• Computer/device to watch or listen to lectures and participate in Q&A.

• Participants are asked to use a physical copy of the 2003 Gingko Press “Critical Edition” of Understanding Media as it includes both of Marshall McLuhan’s introductions, and for easy reference to page numbers, as well as to receive full benefit from deep immersion in printed text. You can purchase the Abe Books version here.

Though our classroom is virtual, it is led from The McLuhan Institute’s library and archives which contains all the ancillary materials used in UMI, located in Bloomfield, Ontario, Canada. Gray Area will also provide a dedicated online classroom for the duration of the course. This will make it possible for the room to be used by students outside of class time for meetups to discuss the class, UMI, or just to socialize.

Course Outline

Week 1 – March 23 • Chapter 21 – The Press: Government by News Leak

Week 2 – March 30 • Chapter 22 – Motorcar: The Mechanical Bride

Week 3 – April 6 • Chapter 23 – Ads: Keeping Upset with the Joneses

Week 4 – April 13 • Chapter 24 – Games: The Extensions of Man

Week 5 – April 20 • Chapter 25 – Telegraph: The Social Hormone

Week 6 – April 27 • Chapter 26 – The Typewriter: Into the Age of the Iron Whim

Week 7 – May 4 • Chapter 27 – The Telephone: Sounding Brass or Tinkling Symbol?

Week 8 – May 11 • Chapter 28 – The Phonograph: The Toy that Shrank the National Chest

Week 9 – May 18 • Chapter 29 – Movies: The Reel World

Week 10 – May 25 • Chapter 30 – Radio: The Tribal Drum

Week 11 – June 1 • Chapter 31 – Television: The Timid Giant

Week 12 – June 8 • Chapter 32 – Weapons: War of the Icons

Week 13 – June 15 • Chapter 33 – Automation: Learning a Living


Course Goals

The objective of the course is to provide participants with a deeper appreciation and understanding of McLuhan work in general, this material in particular, facilitated by Andrew McLuhan, drawing on his 20+ years of experience with the text and work, and aided by the introduction of artifacts such as Marshall McLuhan’s annotated copies of the book, other books, and materials from Eric McLuhan’s library. It is expected that community engagement in the discussion groups will be of added benefit as like-minded people engage in mutual exploration and respectful dialogue. Participants will be challenged to take their time in reading and reflecting on the material. Part of the reason for the 13-week pacing is to allow time for reflection and absorption of the material – to become comfortable, accustomed to the style and sensibility. It is increasingly difficult for people to experience text in this way, so one aim of this course is to create an environment that will make the fullest appreciation of the material possible.

A note from Andrew McLuhan:

UMI is sort of live audio book with DVD extras and community engagement. Though we’re already a third of the way through the book, feel free to jump in now and catch up either on your own time or join in when we begin again with Part One. I really didn’t imagine doing this course more than once but have realized the value of the live experience, and how a different group of people makes for a different experience and reading.
Former students have described UMI as ‘life-changing,’ and while that’s a high bar, it’s what I aim for. After a few months of extended weekly engagement with the text, materials, and classmates, you will not be the same.


Andrew McLuhan is a grandson of Marshall McLuhan, noted Canadian professor from the University of Toronto who was a pioneer in the field of Media/Communications studies. Andrew's father, Eric McLuhan, was Marshall's eldest son, who worked with Marshall from the mid-1960s until Marshall died in 1980. From 1980 until his death in 2018, Eric McLuhan continued the work he began with his father, completing important works such as 'Laws of Media: The New Science' (1980) 'Media and Formal Cause (2011) 'Theories of Communication' (2011) among other solo works. In 2009 Andrew began work documenting and inventorying Marshall McLuhan's annotated library (now at the Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, and named to UNESCO's 'Memory of the World Register' of globally-significant cultural artifacts) which was his first major McLuhan project, and has been the subject of several speeches. For about a decade, Andrew acted as Eric McLuhan's part-time assistant, student, and travel companion, accompanying him on speaking tours near and far, getting deeper and deeper into the unique McLuhan tradition of exploring culture and technology. Andrew acted as Eric McLuhan's part-time assistant, student, and travel companion, accompanying him on speaking tours near and far, getting deeper into the unique McLuhan, tradition of exploring culture and technology. The more he learned, the more he wanted to share, and he has been writing and speaking and teaching workshops, classes, and courses. Following Eric’s unexpected death in 2018, Andrew has kept going on his own. Andrew is director of The McLuhan Institute, created in 2017 to continue the work begun by Marshall McLuhan and Eric McLuhan in exploring and understanding culture and technology.