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152 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 in Canada as a refugee from American Red-baiting. While Grierson is as important for what he did (the founder of the NFB, he was also an innovator of documentary film and a shaper of Canadian film aesthetics) as for what he thought, his importance meant that the ideas he also articulated B particularly on communication as propaganda B contributed to the emerging dialogue in Canada. His and more particularly Smythe=s observations about the way mass media became a >Consciousness Industry= show how Canadian thinkers anticipated later critiques, such as Noam Chomsky=s, of the media=s influence on perception. The surveys that follow B of Macpherson , Irene Biss Spry, Gertrude Joch Robinson B show the continual appearance in Canada of figures who were important because of the way they denaturalized concepts previously conceived of as natural and inevitable. What may most interest readers of this volume will be Babe=s concluding discussions of three prominent Canadians: George Grant, Marshall McLuhan, and Northrop Frye. The discussion of Grant, which stresses his rejection of >progressive liberalism,= is lucid, thoughtful, and helpful. That Babe=s long treatment of McLuhan is less so B it will be most useful to those not already familiar with the large outlines of his thought B may be equally due to the limitations of space and to the problems inherent in any attempt to codify this fascinating and frustrating figure. Babe=s discussion of Frye is the most disappointing in the book, chiefly because Babe spectacularly misreads Frye=s loss of faith in the Methodist version of Christianity, viewing it as a general loss of faith in the divine and a choice for nihilism. This misunderstanding results in an unrecognizable portrait of the man who (as more than one essay in last year=s special issue of University of Toronto Quarterly on the visionary tradition in Canada suggested) always valued the numinous world. Despite these limitations, the general reader of Canadian Communication Thought will find much of interest here and will need no background in communications or media theory: among the work=s virtues are a clear prose style and a willingness to explain basic concepts. Its corresponding weakness is the way its introductory tone sometimes combines with a formulaic structure in the ten chapters to make it feel like a course textbook, but it is also a new mapping of the intellectual topography of Canadian culture, one that in its continual return to Innis as the unifying figure of this study, accepts the proposition that a >Toronto School= of communications theory has emerged and continues to play a role. (RUSSELL MORTON BROWN) John G. Gibson. Old and New World Highland Bagpiping McGill-Queen=s University Press. xxiv, 424. $49.95 This book is a sequel to the author=s 1998 volume Traditional Gaelic humanities 153 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Bagpiping, 1745B1945 (also published, in Canada, by McGill-Queen=s University Press). Expanding on many of the same themes, it seeks to relate Highland bagpiping as practised in Nova Scotia to the early evidence for traditional piping in Gaelic-speaking Scotland. John Gibson is one of a group of enthusiasts, based in Nova Scotia, who passionately defend the region=s piping traditions. They maintain that it preserved distinctive styles of playing that became virtually extinct in Scotland or elsewhere, and that these styles are both sophisticated and somehow more authentic than that of mainstream piping, as practised in Scotland over the past hundred years and spread around the world, including to the rest of Canada. The latter style has been adversely affected by its associations with the army and with the court, so that musically much of the life has been drained out of it. I am perhaps overstating the case, but readers of this learned work should be aware of Gibson=s bias. His archival research, in both Scotland and Nova Scotia, establishes much about regional styles and transmissions, and puts a host of names on the map. We must be grateful for the wealth of information about genealogies and tenantries but...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 152-154
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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