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In 2004 I became a professor of philosophy at St. John Fisher College, a small liberal arts institution in the Rochester, New York founded in 1949 by a Catholic religious order called the Congregation of St. Basil (CSB). Some years after joining the college, while working on a project with Diane Lucas, our then-campus archivist, I was startled when she mentioned to me in passing that Marshall McLuhan’s daughter Stephanie had been doing research in our archives on her father’s work. Marshall McLuhan?! I was astonished to hear that name mentioned, as it had been years since I had thought about the communications guru who had coined the phrases "the global village” and "the medium is the message". More to the point, what possible connection did he have with St. John Fisher College? To my astonishment, Diane told me that McLuhan had been a faculty member at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, which was run by the Congregation of St. Basil, the same order of priests which had also started St. John Fisher College. McLuhan, it turned out, had been on close personal terms with the founding fathers of the college, many of whom had been his students at St. Michael’s. In addition, he had been active in helping to found our Department of Communications, and often came to campus to give talks and meet with the faculty and students. Stephanie McLuhan had come to our archives to do research on a book she later edited of her father’s unpublished lectures, some of which had been delivered at St. John Fisher College. It was later published as Understanding Me: Lectures and Essays, edited by Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines, with a foreword by Tom Wolfe [MIT Press, 2005).


This item is a chapter in McLuhan: Social Media Between Faith and Culture, edited by Domenico Pietropaolo and Robert K. Logan, published by LEGAS in 2015.

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