[Media Ecology: Champions, Schools, Key Concepts]
An interdisciplinary field of inquiry still largely untapped, although it is rooted in the North American intellectual tradition and in the Continental one. It has been defined as media ecology. The book aims concisely and systematically to present a wide range of twentieth century thinkers who shared an approach to media studies as a complex system of relations and processes, a habitat that can be seen to embrace the deep roots of the changes that shape human culture.
The use of the word “ecology” according to its original etymon implies that the media are not treated, as they usually are, as mere means or tools used by people to communicate or interact with the world. Media ecology rather implies an holistic view that approaches the media as a complex system of cultural, technological and communication forms within which the human beings live. Media ecology takes the plurality of media forms back to a unitary and coherent, although open and dynamic, human ecosystem. That means conceiving the media not just as conduits or instruments, but rather as actual environments, thus human ecosystems.
The book is structured to offer a comprehensive representation of the most influential thinkers in both North America – Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, Neil Postman, Susanne Langer, Lewis Mumford, Gregory Bateson – and Europe – Walter Benjamin, Ernst Cassirer, Jacques Ellul, Regis Debray, Jack Goody –, to name just a few, as well as of the main schools of thought – developed in Toronto, New York, Chicago, Palo Alto –, of the different disciplines involved – history, literary criticism, economics, sociology, anthropology, as required by a truly humanistic approach – and of the key concepts that can be used to define a historiographic map of the intellectual tradition that goes under the name of media ecology. The book is intended as an essential guide for readers – e.g. graduate and undergraduate students – who wish to approach this still unexplored field of study.