Wilbur Schramm and Noam Chomsky Meet Harold Innis is an original, critical, in-depth analysis of the media and communication thought of Canada's most highly acclaimed scholar, Harold Adams Innis. Even in Canada, however, Innis's writings until now have been only partially cited and interpreted: Innis is usually stereotyped as being merely an economic historian fixated on previous civilizations, whereas in fact he was an astute analyst whose main concerns were with present problems and future trajectories. In the United States, meanwhile, Innis's media and communication writings have been quite neglected and even denigrated.
Drawing on Innis's less frequently cited work, including his long neglected Political Economy in the Modern State, Robert Babe opens up Innis's media scholarship as a whole, unfolding it in startling critical, yet ultimately appreciative ways. By comparing Innis's media scholarship with Wilbur Schramm's and Noam Chomsky's, moreover, Babe tests the claims, positions, and modes of analysis not only of Innis, but also of the other two celebrated scholars as well, casting new light on their works and allowing the reader to imagine what sort of discourses might have been possible had the three been in conversation together. Wilbur Schramm and Noam Chomsky Meet Harold Innis provides comparative insight into foundational media scholarship in the United States and Canada, and explores in some detail the relevance of Innis for twenty-first century digitized society.
Robert E. Babe is professor of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario.