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The Medium Is the Monster

Athabasca University Press

Technology, a word that emerged historically first to denote the study of any art or technique, has come, in modernity, to describe advanced machines, industrial systems, and media. McCutcheon argues that it is Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein that effectively reinvented the meaning of the word for modern English. It was then Marshall McLuhan’s media theory and its adaptations in Canadian popular culture that popularized, even globalized, a Frankensteinian sense of technology. The Medium Is the Monster shows how we cannot talk about technology—that human-made monstrosity—today without conjuring Frankenstein, thanks in large part to its Canadian adaptations by pop culture icons such as David Cronenberg, William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, and Deadmau5. In the unexpected connections illustrated by The Medium Is the Monster, McCutcheon brings a fresh approach to studying adaptations, popular culture, and technology.


"McCutcheon offers an expert explication/application of McLuhan that contributes to the revival of interest in and understanding of the significance of his work. In his application of McLuhanesque thought to seminal Canadian science fiction texts and other cultural products, McCutcheon makes a valuable contribution to Canadian studies, especially in the areas of media, film, and genre studies. The Medium Is the Monster opens up new ways to read and understand figures about whom much has been written (Shelley, Gibson, and Cronenberg), while also bringing welcome attention to figures hitherto given less recognition than they merit."


"McCutcheon exhibits commendable acuity as a close reader not only of literary texts but also of film, music, and related cultural products. [...] His ambitious and well-written study should be of great interest to Canadians, sf scholars, and everyone else interested in the relations among technology, media, and contemporary popular culture."


Mark A. McCutcheon is professor of literary studies at Athabasca University. His scholarly publications include articles on such subjects as Canadian popular culture, Frankenstein adaptations, and copyright policy in English Studies in Canada, Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, Continuum, and Popular Music, among other scholarly journals and books. Mark has also published poetry and short fiction in literary magazines like EVENT, Existere, Carousel, and subTerrain. Originally from Toronto, Mark lives in Edmonton. His scholarly blog is www.academicalism.wordpress.com and he’s on Twitter as @sonicfiction.

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