Friedrich Kittler

Friedrich Adolf Kittler ( born June 12, 1943 in Rochlitz, † October 18, 2011 in Berlin) was a German literary scholar and media theorist. His research focused on culture techniques, and since about 2001, the ancient world. In his work the terms Aufschreibesysteme, technology and military play an important role.

Life and work

Friedrich Kittler was born in the mid-1943 Saxon Rochlitz, his brother Wolf just before the end of the war. Kittler's family moved with him in 1958 in the Federal Republic of Germany, where he remained until 1963, a scientific and modern languages ​​Gymnasium in Lahr / Schwarzwald attended from 1958 and then from 1963 to 1972 German, Romance and Philosophy at the Albert -Ludwigs- University in Freiburg im Breisgau studied. During the study influenced him the texts of the French post-structuralists, especially Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, who were then still largely unknown in Germany.

1976 Kittler was awarded his doctorate with a thesis on the poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. His doctor father was the German scholar Gerhard Kaiser ( German studies ). From 1976 to 1986 he worked as a research assistant in the German Department of the University of Freiburg. In 1980 he published the anthology " casting out the spirit of the humanities ," for which he also Derrida's essay " title ( to be determined) ," Titre (à préciser ) translated into German. In 1984 he was habilitated in the field of modern German literary history.

There followed several stays as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Visiting Professor at U.S. universities, including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Santa Barbara and Stanford University.

From 1986 to 1990, Kittler Director of the DFG project " Literature and Media Analysis" in Kassel. In 1987 he was appointed Professor of Neugermanistik at the Ruhr- University Bochum and 1993 to the Chair of aesthetics and history of the media of the Humboldt University in Berlin. Kittler was founded in 1993 with the Siemens Media Art Prize of the Center for Art and Media Technology ( ZKM) in Karlsruhe honored for his research in the field of media theory.

1996 Distinguished Scholar Kittler at Yale University in 1997 and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Columbia University in New York. Since 2001 he was deputy director of the Hermann von Helmholtz Centre for Cultural Technology and a member of the research group " picture writing number" (DFG). On October 18, 2011 Friedrich Kittler died in Berlin.

Work and significance

Friedrich Kittler was one of the most influential and important German media theorist and founded the " Berlin School" in media studies. Kittler is a new approach to media theory, emanating from the technical media and has been since the 1980s increasingly popular.

The term " writing systems " Kittler borrowed from the work of Daniel Paul Schreber. He referred Kittler, " the network of institutions and techniques [ ... ] that allow a given culture addressing, storage and processing of relevant data. " This is to be understood for the madness as declaration of sympathy ( in the tradition of Foucault ). According to Kittler all science has a paranoid element.

Kittler's central project was to " human sciences [ ... ] demonstrate their media technology a priori " ( Hartmut Winkler ), or, in his own words, the. " Expulsion of the spirit of the humanities ," the same title of a publication from the year 1980

Kittler leaned Marshall McLuhan's reading of the media as "extensions of man " from: "Media are not pseudopods, which would expand the human body. They follow the logic of escalation that leaves us and the font - history. " Media but are never autonomous, but its use is always historical.

For simplicity, we could summarize Kittler's thesis to the effect that our knowledge ( and what we believe to be true ) is critically dependent on the culture techniques that we use.

Consequently, he sees in the writing of literature, writing computer programs, and the burn-in of structures in silicon chips a continuum:

" As we know and just do not tell no man writes. [ ... ] Today, human writing by inscriptions, which [ ... ] runs burned by means of electron beam lithography in silicon is [ ... ]. Last historical act of writing it may have been, consequently, as in the late seventies, a team of Intel engineers [ ...] [ chronicling ] the hardware architecture of their first integrated microprocessor. "

Kittler's techno- materialistic view of all the works of the culture was. During the 1980s fashion among students and young scholars in the arts, the one " Kittler Youth " called mockingly The media theorist Norbert Bolz, Bernhard Siegert, Wolfgang Ernst and Claus Pias are students Kittler.


Critics point to Kittler's inclination, apodictic and dark to formulate. The time criticized in his essay "Music and Mathematics" lack of clarity " perceptible up and derivations are not Kittler thing. Where there is "clarity " screams from our depth! , He sails away, and we must continue clueless guess ". The psychoanalyst Harald Weilnböck quoted in the magazine middle 36 Kittler's dictum: " In forgetting the word forget voiced utterance and fall together. The swash If this interaction is the truth, " and added that the reading of this sentence intellectually him in just such a " 've added wobble ".


His collected work left Kittler as far back as the Literature Archive in Marbach. The catalog includes unpublished manuscripts, preparatory work to published works and selected copies of his library and correspondence between him and fellow scientists such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Selected pieces of the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Modern Literature.