About “A Tetrad”

In 1969, the John M.Kelly Library first opened its doors. Fifty years later, we celebrate with the release of a chapbook designed and produced in our Print Studio.

This chapbook [released at the Canadian Print Exhibition] honours Marshall McLuhan, a St. Michael’s College professor who rattled the world with his take on the influence of media and technology. The chapbook is called “A Tetrad” and is both a digital and a hand-printed instance of McLuhan’s tetrad concept.

“A Tetrad” is a hand-printed, hand-sewn and bound Coptic-stitched letterpress chapbook.

Imprint Launch

January 22, 2019

Created by

What is a Tetrad?

A tetrad means a set of four things. Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad refers to a set of four media laws he believed you could apply to any human creation, from ideas to artefacts. When a new brainchild appears, McLuhan says, it affects existing culture in four ways: it Enhances, Reverses, Retrieves, and Obsolesces.

See the Tetrad video below.

McLuhan’s Tetrad Concept


By galvanizing a new possibility


By taking a new possibility to such an extreme that it eclipses its original intention.


By dipping into the historical-cultural bank of human experience to adapt an old idea.


By nudging aside current ways of thinking.

A Digital Tetrad

The following notables contributed to the Kelly Library’s Digital Tetrad to honour the launch of the “A Tetrad” imprint at the Canadian Fine Press Exhibit.

Yours to Own

Order your collectible “A Tetrad” chapbook.

One Chapbook, Two Editions.

Signed by Michael McLuhan, the chapbook comes in two numbered editions: a pamphlet-stitched version of 125 copies and a Coptic-bound version in a run of 25. Both editions are letterpress printed from plates on 100% cotton paper and are die-cut and hand-sewn.

Pamphlet-stitched chapbook: $75 plus $20 shipping and handling

Coptic-bound chapbook: $225 plus $20 shipping and handling

Contact kellylibrary.administration@utoronto.ca to arrange for payment and delivery.