I've actually known about this for about a month, but the award wasn't made public until this past weekend at the Eighth Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association in Mexico City, where I was invited to present a paper based on my book.
This is, as you might be able to imagine, a thrill for me. McLuhan's Understanding Media was one of the first books on mass media -- probably the first book -- I ever read when I was discovering my fascination with mediated communication as a young college freshman in 1972. I never got to meet McLuhan, but his son -- and a media scholar in his own right -- Eric McLuhan was on hand at the award ceremony, and I got the opportunity to express to him what a humbling experience it was to win an award honoring his father.
I studied in NYU's Media Ecology program under one of McLuhan's proteges, Neil Postman, who died in 2003. Neil was not my mentor, I was not his protege. In fact, we didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things (He was not crazy about my writing -- he found it "florid" and verbose -- and he was right. I'm still working on it...), but he was a friend, and he encouraged me, and when I first presented my raw research for this book at a conference at Trinity College, Dublin in 1990, he paid me the ultimate compliment. "Peter," he said, "now you are a scholar." I wish he had been there on Friday evening.
My wife Mary Pat encouraged me to take this dusty old manuscript (I actually completed it in 1996, but life has a way of interfering with your plans) and get it published, and I am grateful to her for her support and her love.
But I really want to acknowledge the guidance, support, and wisdom of Prof. Christine Nystrom, formerly of NYU's Media Ecology program. In so many ways she was the inspiration for this book. When I really want to flatter myself, I tell myself that this would be the type of book Chris would write if she were writing a book about printing, literacy, and education in eighteenth century Ireland. Chris was and is a far better writer than I am -- and a far better thinker -- but I like to think that I learned something about the grace of language from Chris, and I hope that this is true.
The roll of recipients of the Marshall McLuhan Award include:
- 2000 - Neil Postman for Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future
- 2001 - Thomas J. Farrell for Walter Ong’s Contributions to Cultural Studies: The Phenomenology of the Word and I-Thou Communication
- 2002 - Douglas Rushkoff for Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say
- 2003 - Frederick Wasser for Veni, Vidi, Video: The Hollywood Empire and the VCR
- 2004 - Francis Fukuyama for Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
- 2005 - Donald N. Wood for The Unraveling of the West: The Rise of Postmodernism and the Decline of Democracy
- 2006 - Thomas de Zengotita for Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It
- 2007 - Peter K. Fallon for Printing, Literacy, and Education in Eighteenth Century Ireland : Why the Irish Speak English
Note: Pictures and perhaps video to follow....