I’ve been working on this for submission to the John Dewey Society:
Communication and (Educational) Media: Dewey as a Theorist avant la lettre
In addition to being an educational reformer and philosopher nonpareil, John Dewey also theorized media and communication. The inimitable Marshall McLuhan once characterized Dewey as “surf-boarding along on the new electronic wave [that] …has now rolled right over this age.” Dewey himself repeatedly emphasized that “the radio, the railway, telephone, telegraph” had rendered “social life …almost completely changed.” This paper undertakes a historical reconstruction of Dewey’s theory of communication and media avant la lettre, particularly as it relates to education, scholarship and democracy. It then considers his later privileging of “communicative” aesthetics and the “winged words” of oral communication. It concludes that despite its periodic imprecision and ambivalence, Dewey’s “theory” of media and communication in education remains both current and compelling.