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A historiographical review of Marshall McLuhans The Gutenberg Galaxy: The making of Typographic Man - Essay Example

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Despite the tremendous relevance and impact of his concepts upon contemporary culture and society, a historiographical study of any work of Marshall McLuhan may seem unconventional, as his formal education did not stamp him either as a historian, or as a person qualified to dabble in the chronicling and exposition of the past, present, or future of the human race…
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A historiographical review of Marshall McLuhans The Gutenberg Galaxy: The making of Typographic Man
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Download file to see previous pages This instant study is an attempt to evaluate his seminal book The Gutenberg Galaxy: The making of Typographic Man (1962), the influence of the book upon contemporary intellectual thought, and its continuing relevance, if any, under the present day context.
McLuhan wrote The Gutenberg Galaxy during the turbulent sixties, - a time marked by a great numeric predominance of youth and adolescents in the American population. This population bias had its obvious socio-cultural consequences: widespread peer approval in rejecting conservative social mores and norms, and youthful questioning of every belief and tradition. The advent of the television and use of electronic surveillance by the Government had already heightened public concern over the merits
and demerits of electronics to a fevered pitch when Marshall McLuhan launched his book the Gutenberg Galaxy, - addressing in his own way the public debate over electronics and offering a radical way of re-evaluating the world based upon the effects of communication systems and media.
McLuhan correctly assessed the confused state of the sixties populace and solaced them with analogies, indicating that such confusion was a result of omissions in the traditional telling of history, something that his book intended to remedy:
"our electric
"our electric age the Gutenberg Galaxy may help to explain. We are today as far into the electric age as the Elizabethans had advanced into the typographical and mechanical age. And we are experiencing the same confusions and indecisions which they had felt when living simultaneously in two contrasted forms of society and experience. Whereas the Elizabethans were poised between medieval corporate experience and modern individualism, we reverse their pattern by confronting an electric technology which would seem to render individualism obsolete and the corporate interdependence mandatory The enterpriseis here extended to the forms of thought and the organization of experience in society and politics. That such a study of the divergent nature of oral and written social organization has not been carried out by historians long ago is rather hard to explain."1
The Gutenberg Galaxy seemed to provide the populace with the much-needed insight they required to assess the advent of the electronic age. It seemed to hand the toolkit to
1. Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The making of Typographical Man (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962), 1.
every intellectual layman, empowering him or her to decide independently, whether electronics represented a panacea or a Pandora's Box for human society. The sixties' youth found in McLuhan a prophet of the new electronic age: his ideas were thought-provocative, his concepts were universal in appeal, he talked of the coming of a new world, - and the inevitable journey of humankind into a "global village," leaving behind the Gutenberg Galaxy of print dominated media and shedding the image of the typographic man.
McLuhan presented his highly unconventional history book according to his own convictions. He says, "The Gutenberg Galaxy develops a mosaic or field approach to its problems. Such a mosaic image of numerous data and quotations in evidence offers the only practical means of revealing causal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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