McLuhan references the following people as having a good understanding of media.

Non-Fiction WritersEdit

  • Carothers, J. C. is a psychiatrist who wrote about the traumatic effects of detribalization in The African Mind in Health and Disease.[1]
  • De Tocqueville wrote about how print affected France, England, and the United States differently.
  • Marx understood the effects of technology on society, but he analyzed it in terms of machines just as the telegraph was changing the dynamic from mechanical to electric.[2]
  • Mumford, Lewis wrote in The City in History that not only are clothing and housing extensions of our skins, but walled cities are as well.

Fiction WritersEdit

Artists tend to have a much easier time understanding media, because they are particularly aware of changes in sense perception.[3] Therefore, it is not surprising to find many many insights into media in fiction writers.

  • Blake wrote in Jerusalem about amputation of faculties into extensions.[4]
  • Forster, E.M. wrote A Passage to India focused on the incompatibility of "oral and intuitive oriental culture" and "rational, visual European patterns of experience." [5]
  • Joyce, James wrote Finnegan's Wake in reference to mankind's re-entry into a tribal state, but with a greater awareness of the process.[6]
  • Lewis, Wyndham wrote a group of novels, The Human Age, which address how electric media intermingle nonliterate, semiliterate, and postliterate culture.[7]
  • Shakespeare referenced the effects of media in many of his plays.
  • Synge, J. M. wrote Playboy of the Western World, a play about how media bear some of the responsibility for violent crime because of the role they play in psychological formation.[8]


  • Napoleon understood the effects of gunpowder, the telegraph, and newspapers on war.
  • Pope Pius XII commented on the importance of the role of "techniques of communication" on "the future of modern society and the stability of its inner life."[9]
  • Coolidge was cool in the media sense, whereas FDR was hot.

Unattributed WorksEdit


  1. UM, p. 16
  2. UM, p. 38
  3. UM, p. 18
  4. UM, p. 46
  5. UM, p. 15
  6. UM, p. 35
  7. UM, p. 16
  8. UM, p. 17
  9. UM, p. 20
  10. UM, pp. 41-42
  11. UM, pp. 45