What's "The Canadian School" of Media Theory?

 

(Hint: It’s NOT the same thing as the Toronto School of Communications.)

I’ve been working with Darryl Cressman on an article on “Die kanadische Schule” for a German Handbook of Media Studies. The piece will be translated and then published by Metzler (the Metzler Dictionary of Media Studies and Media Theory, already in print, is to the right).

Here’s how we explain the difference between the two “schools:”

To speak of a general Canadian school of media theory is to use a specifically German label, one that can be traced to Kittler’s Optical Media: Berlin Lectures 1999, where he inaccurately attributes the term to Arthur Kroker’s Technology and the Canadian Mind: Innis/McLuhan/Grant. …A Canadian school of media theory and Toronto school of communication both refer to the same general intellectual output, but differences in each name” and frames this output is significant. To speak of the “Toronto school” is to see this work as a local approach to communication, suggesting that it was a faction within the larger, contemporaneous and mainly empirical study of communication. To speak of a “Canadian school” suggests something much more substantial, namely the founding, as Dieter Mersch describes, of a “general theory of media” or of the original introduction of “the term ‘media’ as it is used in cultural theory today.”

See the entire article on the Canadian School (pdf).

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