Paper Abstract- Michael Darroch

Border Environments:  Theorising Media and Culture in the Windsor-Detroit Borderlands, 1943-1946

Professor Darroch’s presentation will trace Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that a border is not “a connection but an interval of resonance” to the mid-1940s, when he lived and taught in the Canadian border city of Windsor, Ontario, which sits opposite Detroit, Michigan. McLuhan corresponded and collaborated with both Wyndham Lewis, who was also lecturing in Windsor/Detroit, and Siegfried Giedion, who was touring North America. Lewis and Giedion would each have a decisive influence on McLuhan’s emergent theorisation of mediated cultural environments. McLuhan’s experience in Windsor-Detroit can be seen as providing a context in which his concept of a “global village” began to take shape, not simply as a utopian sphere anticipating a culturally harmonious landscape, but rather a sphere in which we are increasingly involved with each other whether we like it or not. Through their capacity to cause mutual irritation, borders are collective spaces in which cultural differences must be acknowledged.