Main Floor Reading Room MacOdrum Library1125 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON

McLuhan and Frye:
A Reading
by B.W. Powe

"There will likely be many McLuhan and Frye commentaries in the future, and with any luck some will be brilliant, but no one will ever write with such passion as Powe’s on the vision of these two beleaguered spiritual explorers.
— Philip Marchand, National Post
B.W. Powe

Please join us for a reading by B.W. Powe from his book about two titans of Canadian culture: Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy (University of Toronto Press). The reading will be followed by an interview of the author by Associate Professor Travis DeCook of Carleton University’s Department of English. There will be ample time for questions from the audience as well, and copies of the book will be available for sale.

Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye are two of Canada’s central cultural figures, colleagues and rivals whose careers unfolded in curious harmony even as their intellectual engagement was antagonistic. Poet, novelist, essayist and philosopher B.W. Powe, who studied with both of these formidable and influential intellectuals, presents an exploration of their lives and work in Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy. 

Powe considers the existence of a unique visionary tradition of Canadian humanism and argues that McLuhan and Frye represent fraught but complementary approaches to the study of literature and to the broader engagement with culture. Examining their eloquent but often acid responses to each other, Powe exposes the scholarly controversies and personal conflicts that erupted between them, and notably the great commonalities in their writing and biographies. Using interviews, letters, notebooks, and their published texts, Powe offers a new alchemy of their thought, in which he combines the philosophical hallmarks of McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and Frye’s “the great code.”

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