Modern Language Association Convention, 7-10 January 2021, Toronto / Online

The Ezra Pound Society Panel

Session 649 – Ezra Pound and Marshall McLuhan: Mid-Twentieth-Century Canadian Contexts

Sunday, 10 January 2021, 3.30pm-4.45pm

Report by Mark Byron


Presider: Demetres Tryphonopoulos, University of Alberta, Augustana



The Chinese Written Character as a Medium of Intensity: Pound, McLuhan, and the Ideogram

Jason Lester, U of Oregon

‘Sailing after Knowledge’: From the Modernist Periplus to the Mosaic of the Electronic Age

Panayiotes Tryphonopoulos, Queen’s U, Ontario


The Ezra Pound Society panel at the 2021 MLA Virtual Convention was abstracted from its intended material location in Toronto, but drew on the city’s history and scholarly traditions in an exploration of Pound’s influence on the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. Jason Lester gave a detailed and considered paper on the ways in which the notion of the ideogram was deployed both by Pound and by McLuhan, particularly in the way the latter picked up on the idea of intensity, made prominent in the links between image and ideogram in Pound’s early writing. Panayiotes Tryphonopoulos gave a fascinating paper in which McLuhan’s media theory is traced to Pound’s notion of the ideogram, transformed and updated to accommodate changes in the media landscape, particularly seen in the transition from print to digital. Unfortunately Sara Dunton was unable to present her paper on Louis Dudek and his absorption of both Pound’s and McLuhan’s ideas, but the two papers presented were followed by rich discussion of the mid-century contexts of Pound’s influence on McLuhan. 

An expanded and revised version of Panayiotes Tryphonopoulos’s paper appears separately as an essay in this issue of Make It New.