Friedrich Kittler

(b. 1943)

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Germanmedia theorist born in Rochlitz. His family moved to Lahr in 1958 to escape from East Germany. He went to University in Freiburg, studying Romance philology, German studies, and philosophy. He completed his doctorate on Swiss author and poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer in 1976 and his habilitation on modern German literary history in 1984. He worked at Kassel University and the Ruhr University between 1986 and 1993. In 1993 he was appointed to the chair of media aesthetics and history at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Influenced by the work of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan, and writing against the hermeneutic conventions embodied in the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Kittler develops a discourse analysis of media history that focuses on the fact of media technology, rather than its specific content. In contrast to Marshall McLuhan, Kittler does not treat media as a prosthetic extension of ‘man’, but rather argues that media—or, the inscription system (Aufschreibesysteme) as he calls it—creates the necessary conditions in which ‘man’ can come into being. Kittler's most well known works in English are Discourse Networks 1800/1900 (1990) and Gramophone Film Typewriter (1999).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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