Course syllabus by


S. Arkhipov




The course aims to familiarize students with the fundamental discoveries of the Toronto Media School and the follow-up discussions. It is designed for the students on an advanced stage of study mass media, journalism, and mass communications. The course can also be useful for other specialties. It contributes to the preparing high-qualified professionals in various fields in the social science and humanities.

The overall goal of the course is to gain an understanding of the ideas of H. Innis and M. McLuhan, who founded the Toronto Media School and fill up a knowledge gap in communicational approach to the history and present-day society by taking into account the books of eminent theoreticians. The course consists of two major parts. In the first part students must scrutinize Inniss features of successive civilizations to the prevailing and dominant modes of communication. They have to focus on his ideas on communication technologies undermining old bases of social power. Students ought to learn how communication leads over time to monopolization by a group of the means of production and distribution of knowledge. Then they have to look into disequilibria, which either impedes changes or leads to the competitive emergence of other forms of communication corrected the imbalance.

Teaching material explore Inniss dimensions of empire that are space and time, depending on the dominant form of communication. Students are designed to study Innis thoughts on change from stone to papyrus as causing a shift in social order. They must survey ancient Greece oral tradition and flexible alphabet that favored inventiveness and prevented the emergence of priesthood. Next approach ought to be made toward revision endurance of the Roman Empire, which was assisted by culture of writing and documents on which legal-bureaucratic institutions, capable of administering distant provinces, were based. The subsequent lectures dedicated to printing challenged the medieval monarchy monopoly of power.

The objective of the second part of the course is to revise the ideas of McLuhan, who offered new insights into the consequences of a rise the media. Students are supposed to bend to his approach to the practice by which people experience the world through different media and lean why all the media are extensions of man. They should look into the implications of a shift from a purely oral communication to one based on a written language. They are intended to understand how each new medium transcends the boundaries of experience and contributes to further change as well as see how different media working together in global village in which information and experience would be freely available for all to share.

A proposition for the classes is to engage everybody in a process of taking meaning that media become increasingly multiple or single-sense. Students have to find out McLuhan view that experiencing the world by reading hot printed text is isolating, non-involving, and encouraging the rational, individual attitude while cool television viewing is involving, not very informing, and also conducive of a less rational and calculative stance.

All students are intended to learn Innis and McLuhan ideas as only perceptions that should stimulate their own speculations in area of media impact on cultural and social changes.

The lectures contain implication of the Toronto way of thinking about media in Russia.






*      Present Toronto Media School knowledge as a key component in Western approach to a study the history of communications;

*      Introduce students the major trends of Toronto Media School mode of thinking about media role in the history of civilizations;

*      Equip students with theoretical tools necessary to make a connection between method of identifying historical and contemporary significance of Toronto Media School discoveries;

*      Expand students conceptual knowledge on implication the Toronto way of thinking about media in Russia;

*      Illuminate status of the Toronto Media School in the history of the Canadian and the international scholarship on Media Studies




The course consists of at the least 15 sessions including lectures, mid-term test, and final exam. All lectures subdivided on two major parts. In the first part of a semester students must learn H. A. Inniss approach to the history of communication from Ancient Egypt to modern America and Europe. In the second part students have to study M. McLuhan endowment for a study the media of mass communications in the 21st century. Every topic is covered by a separate lecture. The length of each lecture is 2 academic hours plus weekly reading approximately 30 pages before a class. Minimum two final lectures are accompanied with parallel seminars. Each student is asked to prepare a short (approx. 25 minutes) presentation on appropriate topic for such class. The number of seminars is flexible and bound up only with the quantity of the prepared student presentations. All classes are mandatory. Questions and comments are welcome. Active participation is required. For in-depth investigating communicational approach to the history students are asked to write a final essay on one of the main topics of the course. The deadline for submitting the essay is the last meeting of the class. The lecturer will organize extra curriculum session on the result of the written assignment where the participation is optional.




Attendance, involvement in classes, periodic assignments, and seminar presentations 25%

Mid-term test 25%

Final essay of minimum 10, maximum 15 double-spaced pages on a topic agreed upon with the lecturer. The paper is to be handed in a print form by the last meeting of the semester

25 %

Final exam 25 %








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