Friedrich Kittler

Friedrich Kittler’s reputation as one of the most original and provocative media theorists of the late twentieth century continues to grow. Born at the end of the Second World War, Kittler’s parents fled East Germany in 1958, whereupon he began a long academic career that included stints at Berkeley, Stanford and the Ruhr University and culminated with his appointment as Professor of Media Aesthetics and History at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Deeply influenced by Foucault and poststructuralist thought, Kittler took Marshall McLuhan’s idea that the media and its attendant technology is a central cultural factor and developed it much further, arguing that the assumption that media are extensions and projections of human agency was hopelessly anthropocentric. Instead, he contended that media technology has an autonomous role in shaping and determining the very nature of human thought. Polity has published his book Optical Media.