Michael Darroch is Associate Professor of Media Art Histories and Visual Culture, School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor. He was Founding Director (2010-16) and is now Co-Director of the IN/TERMINUS Creative Research Collective. He has held a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory (University of London, 2015), a Humanities Research Group Fellowship (University of Windsor, 2016-17), and a McLuhan Centenary Fellowship (iSchool, University of Toronto, 2016-18). Recent SSHRC-funded projects have investigated the interdisciplinary history of Canadian media studies. He co-edited Cartographies of Place: Navigating the Urban (MQUP 2014), an interdisciplinary collection that situates different historical and methodological currents in urban media studies. His publications address issues in urban culture, borderlands studies, media history, performance, language, sound, and translation.
Explorations in Anonymous History: Toronto School Media Studies, 1951-1959 excavates the collaborations and experiments that developed during the landmark interdisciplinary Culture and Communications Seminar held at the University of Toronto (1953-55). Funded by the Ford Foundation, the weekly seminar was organized by the then little-known English professor Marshall McLuhan and anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, along with urban planner Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, political economist Thomas Easterbrook, and psychologist D. Carleton Williams. Informed by studies of the bias of communication (Harold Innis, 1951) and the effects of mechanisation on culture (Sigfried Giedion, 1948), this group placed special emphasis on studying the effects of new media on oral and visual cultures, collaborating in part with the fledgling Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, whose first television broadcasts had aired in 1952. The group developed interdisciplinary methodologies using a “field approach” to discern the new “grammars” and environments created by electronic communications technologies (with an emphasis on film, television, radio and early computing). The project culminated in the journal “Explorations” (1953-59), a periodical of unusual intellectual diversity for its period, including anthropological studies of media effects, experimental poetry, theories of language and social structures, and urban studies. By tracing the group’s activities and media experiments, the seminar’s pedagogical structure, and the publication of the journal, this project offers a window into the distinct networks of multidisciplinary influences that produced many of the insights about media that are now used to interpret mediated and networked cultures.