Access options available:. Technology and Culture Friedrich Kittler's thesis is simple enough: "Media determine our situation, which. And so he describes the cultural environments in which the recording of sound, vision, and words took place between the s and s.
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Access options available:. Technology and Culture Friedrich Kittler's thesis is simple enough: "Media determine our situation, which. And so he describes the cultural environments in which the recording of sound, vision, and words took place between the s and s. The sound recording, filmstrip, and keyboard, as Kittler's technologies may be more generally defined, changed the language of perception.
By changing the language and behavior of the people using them, the technologies constructed their users. In this approach Kittler builds on Marshall McLuhan's emphasis on "mediality," Michel Foucault's descriptions of the relationships between printed texts and the control of the body, and his own work on the construction of readers and families in the age of Goethe. Here, Kittler applies media discourse analysis to the modern era.
He defines "culture" through writings on the effects of the storage of sound, sight, and thought. Analysis [End Page ] of these short stories, poems, letters, memoirs, articles, commentaries, and the attendant discourses lets him argue for the technological determinism of culture, if not history. Those leery of theoretical interpretations will be thankful for the relative paucity of jargon.
On the other hand, the translators take twenty-seven pages to explain Kittler's background and goals to those unfamiliar with the posts debates over power, language, and free will. And Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz acknowledge a number of causes for negative reactions to Kittler's method and agenda.
First, Kittler is not a historian of technology or anything else. He is "the enfant terrible of the German humanities" p. Kittler mixes source material from a wide array of fields to make his points, one of which is the discontinuity of technological development. The result is a superficial pastiche of dated secondary sources, hearsay, literature, and technical explanations. In contrast to this cosmopolitan scholarship, Kittler retains a Germanic admiration for engineers, from Edison to Turing, and indulges in a "virtual fetishism" p.
He justifies his derision of "so-called Man" p. Finally, there is the challenge of the book's structure and Kittler's writing. Each technology receives a lengthy chapter in narrative form, vaguely chronological and offering few pauses for the reader. There is no index. The translators have done a fine job of rendering the complexity of the author's sentences into English. They defend Kittler's "stylistic jouissance " as intended "to assault and shock conventional scholarly sensibilities" p.
All of these issues are apparent in the ninety-three-page gramophone chapter. Despite the title, Kittler refers to descendants of Edison's invention as phonographs, neglecting the relation of Edison's term to its prior use for shorthand techniques. Kittler contributes usefully to the issue of the timing of invention, but then claims that home recording on Edison's cylinders nearly wiped out literary letters as a format p.
This chapter runs into magnetic recording, which Kittler credits to Germany's wartime development of the magnetophone, and radio, whose development he attributes to the two world wars. Similar assertions will be found in the other chapters.
Most useful are the analyses of the effect of these technologies on literature and psychology. The texts that Kittler draws on are generally obscure, at least to this reader. However selective the evidence, his analysis of Nietzsche's intellectual evolution as he switched from manuscript to Malling Hansen typewriter to a female typewriter provides a fascinating [End Page ] example of the interplay of Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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Kittler, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, Additional Information. Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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After Class Writing: Kittler’s “Gramophone Film Typewriter”
Bruce Clarke reviews the new translation of Grammophone, Film, Typewriter, a requiem and good-riddance for the era of so-called Man. In the s a number of texts came into English translation bearing titles with a punch, mixing exemplary authors with generic modes and methodological issues; for instance, Roland Barthes's Sade, Fourier, Loyola and Image, Music, Text , containing the essays "Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein" and "Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers," and Michel Foucault's Language, Counter-Memory, Practice with the essay "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. In Gramophone, Film, Typewriter Kittler contrasts the restriction of Foucault's discourse theory to textual archives with his own wider media band, in which phonographic and cinematic data streams decenter the channel of literary writing. But his commentators agree that Kittler's "media discourse theory" follows from Foucault as the prime member of the triumvirate Foucault, Lacan, Derrida.
Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
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Friedrich Kittler obituary
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the hegemony of the printed word was shattered by the arrival of new media technologies that offered novel ways of communicating and storing data. Previously, writing had operated by way of symbolic mediation—all data had to pass through the needle's eye of the written signifier—but phonography, photography, and cinematography stored physical effects of the real in the shape of sound waves and light. The entire question of referentiality had to be recast in light of these new media technologies; in addition, the use of the typewriter changed the perception of writing from that of a unique expression of a literate individual to that of a sequence of naked material signifiers. Part technological history of the emergent new media in the late nineteenth century, part theoretical discussion of the responses to these media—including texts by Rilke, Kafka, and Heidegger, as well as elaborations by Edison, Bell, Turing, and other innovators— Gramophone, Film, Typewriter analyzes this momentous shift using insights from the work of Foucault, Lacan, and McLuhan. Fusing discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and media theory, the author adds a vital historical dimension to the current debates over the relationship between electronic literacy and poststructuralism, and the extent to which we are constituted by our technologies.