Andrew McLuhan Teaches Understanding Media Intensive: Part Two

Understanding Media Intensive: Part Two is a 12-part look at media theorist 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.

This course follows Understanding Media Intensive which ran in the fall of 2020. 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.

Lectures will include explorations and explanations of never-before-seen author annotations, historical documents, and personal accounts.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 happen live every Saturday from March 20th – June 5th 2021, starting at 9:00am PST / 12:00pm EDT, and ending no later than 12:00pm PST / 3:00pm EDT.


Every Saturday, March 20 — June 12, 2021

Times: 9am – 12pm PST / 12pm – 3pm EST

UMI II will also be offered at two levels: Live Access and Audit Access.

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.

Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced. Effort will be made to accommodate all levels of familiarity and understanding with Marshall McLuhan's work.

• 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.

Course Outline

Week 1 – March 20
• Chapter 8 – The Spoken Word: Flower of Evil?

Week 2 – March 27
• Chapter 9 – The Written Word: An Eye for an Ear

Week 3 – April 3
• Chapter 10 – Roads and Paper Routes

Week 4 – April 10
• Chapter 11 – Number: Profile of the Crowd

Week 5 – April 17
• Chapter 12 – Clothing: Our Extended Skin

Week 6 – April 24
• Chapter 13 – Housing: New Look and New Outlook

Week 7 – May 1
• Chapter 15 – Clocks: The Scent of Time

Week 8 – May 8
• Chapter 16 – The Print: How to Dig It

Week 9 – May 15
• Chapter 17 – Comics: MAD Vestibule to TV

Week 10 – May 22
• Chapter 18 – The Printed Word: Architect of Nationalism

Week 11 – May 29
• Chapter 19 – Wheel, Bicycle, and Airplane

Week 12 – June 5
• Chapter 20 – The Photograph: The Brothel Without Walls

Buy Understanding Media from our Store to Support Gray Area

As with UMI Part I, Andrew McLuhan will not be reading too far ahead of the class. He will be chasing down elusive literary allusions, drawing on the library of Eric McLuhan help show where references came from and add colour to the commentary, and from his storehouse of experiences and anecdotes gathered growing up McLuhan.

As with the first part, new students are encouraged to pick up a physical copy of the book. The 2003 Gingko Press Critical Edition is preferred as it contains both introductions and some bonus material.

Improvements in internet infrastructure have made it possible to deliver the class from Eric McLuhan’s library, affectionately known as ‘The Scriptorium,’ and now the headquarters of The McLuhan Institute. This will add some warmth to the instructor’s side of the screen, and enrich the student experience as well.

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 class, UMI, or just to socialize.

Because of the vast amount of material covered in UMI, and the already long classes, UMI II will deal solely with material from chapters 8-20—at least during class time.

The introductory parts from Understanding Media Intensive: Part One, giving context to Understanding Media, will be included for those who didn’t attend UMI (Part One). The full 12 sessions from UMI (Part One) course will be available for purchase separately.

A note from Andrew McLuhan:
A group assembled for UMI (Part One) which quickly turned into a wonderful community: curious, engaged, caring. It was truly an honour to lead that class and I hope everyone will be able to return for Part Two – and that the community can grow. Please note that every effort is made on the part of the instructor and facilitator, and is expected of all participants, to be kind and courteous and sensitive to every individual in the class. Please keep this in mind as we enjoy this journey together.


Andrew McLuhan

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.

Diversity Scholarship

To help creators of all backgrounds reach their goals, we are proud to offer a diversity scholarship to sustain and advance an inclusive community at Gray Area and beyond. This full scholarship is for artists, students, and scholars from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and the fields of art, design, and technology. To apply, enroll in this Scholarship Application form below.

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