Andrew McLuhan Teaches Understanding Media Intensive: Part Two

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Andrew McLuhan Teaches Understanding Media Intensive: Part Two

Understanding Media Intensive: Part Two is a 13-week long intensive look at the first half of the second part of Marshall McLuhan‘s major 1964 work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, taught by Andrew McLuhan, Director of The McLuhan Institute.

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 Two 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.

Lectures will include explorations and explanations of never-before-seen author annotations, historical documents, and personal accounts. This course picks up at the beginning of Part Two of Understanding Media starting with Chapter 8 – The Spoken Word: Flower of Evil? and will conclude with Chapter 20 – The Photograph: The Brothel-without-Walls. 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 December 1, 2022 – March 9, 2023, starting at 5:00pm PST / 8:00pm EDT, and ending no later than 8:00pm PST / 11:00pm EDT.

Course Logistics

Thursdays from December 1, 2022 – March 9, 2023.

Times: 5:00pm – 8:00pm PST / 8:00pm – 11:00pm EDT


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 – $360
Audit 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.

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 buy the book here, or 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 1December 1
• Chapter 8 – The Spoken Word: Flower of Evil?

Week 2December 8
• Chapter 9 – The Written Word: An Eye for an Ear

Week 3December 15
• Chapter 10 – Roads and Paper Routes

Winter Break

Week 4January 5
• Chapter 11 – Number: Profile of the Crowd

Week 5January 12
• Chapter 12 – Clothing: Our Extended Skin

Week 6January 19
• Chapter 13 – Housing: New Look and New Outlook

Week 7January 26
• Chapter 14 – Money: The Poor Man’s Credit Card

Week 8 – February 2
• Chapter 15 – Clocks: The Scent of Time

Week 9February 9
• Chapter 16 – The Print: How to Dig It

Week 10February 16
• Chapter 17 – Comics: MAD Vestibule to TV

Week 11 – February 23
• Chapter 18 – The Printed Word: Architect of Nationalism

Week 12 – March 2
• Chapter 19 – Wheel, Bicycle, and Airplane

Week 13March 9
• Chapter 20 – The Photograph: The Brothel Without Walls


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. He lectures globally at universities, speaks and gives workshops and consults at companies. Understanding Media Intensive is his most in-depth course, leading two full cohorts through Gray Area since 2020.