Theory Now

Series Editor: Ryan Bishop

Virilio Now, John Armitage
Baudrillard Now, Ryan Bishop
Nancy Now, Verena Conley
Rancière Now, Oliver Davis
Sloterdijk Now, Stuart Elden
Foucault Now, James Faubion
Žižek Now, Jamil Khader and Molly Anne Rothenberg
Kittler Now, Stephen Sale and Laura Salisbury

Kittler Now

Current Perspectives in Kittler Studies

Edited by
Stephen Sale and Laura Salisbury



This volume was conceived following the conference ‘Media Matters: Friedrich Kittler and Technoculture’ held at Tate Modern, London, in 2008. That event was supported both financially and intellectually by Birkbeck, University of London, and the London Consortium, and the editors are profoundly grateful to all those who helped to bring some of the most radical aspects of German Medienwissenschaft to London. We would also like to thank the contributors to this volume for their belief in the project, their good humour and their patience. The support and dedication of the editors of Polity Press have similarly been invaluable.

We are grateful for permission to reproduce the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’ to Warner Chappell Music Ltd (‘Brain Damage’ Words and Music by Roger Waters © Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd (NS). All rights administered by Warner Chappell Music. Australia Pty Ltd.) and to Hampshire House Publishing Corp. (‘Brain Damage’. Words and Music by Roger Waters. TRO–©–Copyright 1973 (Renewed). Hampshire House Publishing Corp., New York, New York. International Copyright Secured. Made in U.S.A. All Rights Reserved Including Public Performance for Profit. Used by permission. ‘Deathless Aphrodite of the spangled mind’, ‘Here to me from Krete to this holy temple’ from If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, by Anne Carson, copyright © 2002 by Anne Carson, are used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., and Little, Brown Book Group Limited. An extract from ‘Oh England My Lionheart’ is reproduced by permission of EMI Music Publishing. A version of the chapter ‘If the Cinema Is an Ontology, the Computer Is an Ethic’ by Alexander R. Galloway was first published in his book The Interface Effect (Cambridge: Polity, 2012).

The editors would like to thank Paul Feigelfeld, in particular, for his assistance in bringing the volume to completion. Not only did he undertake meticulous translations for the volume, he also liaised carefully and sensitively with the late Friedrich Kittler, who was committed to the dissemination of his ideas and to the success of this volume to the last. Without Friedrich Kittler’s generosity and dedication to his intellectual project beyond any reasonable expectations, Kittler Now simply would not have happened. We would also like to extend our thanks to Susanne Holl, Kittler’s widow, whose cooperation with this project has been sincerely appreciated.

Finally, we would like to thank Roger Luckhurst for his intellectual and practical guidance, and Fiona Robertson for her unstinting support throughout the gestation of the project.


Caroline Bassett is Professor of Media and Communications and Director of the Centre for Material Digital Culture at the University of Sussex. She is author of The Arc and the Machine (Manchester University Press, 2007). She has recently been writing on expertise and digital media, and on silence as a response to digital media in First Monday. She is currently completing a monograph on anti-computing for Manchester University Press.

Katherine Biers is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Virtual Modernism: Writing and Technology in the Progressive Era (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Her articles and reviews have appeared in Representations, Textual Practice and several edited collections.

Steven Connor is Grace 2 Professor of English in the University of Cambridge and fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. He has published books on Dickens, Beckett, Joyce and postmodernism, as well as on topics such as ventriloquism, skin, flies, air and sport. His most recent books are Beyond Words: Sobbing, Humming and Other Vocalizations (Reaktion, 2014) and Beckett, Modernism and the Material Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2014). His website at includes lectures, broadcasts, unpublished work and work in progress.

Paul Feigelfeld worked for Friedrich Kittler from 2004 to 2011 and is the editor of Kittler’s source code and software for the upcoming Collected Works. Feigelfeld worked as a teacher and researcher at Humboldt University’s Institute for Media Theories from 2010 to 2013, and since 2013 has coordinated the Digital Cultures Research Lab at Leuphana University Lüneburg.

Alexander R. Galloway is a writer and computer programmer working on issues in philosophy, technology and theories of mediation. Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, he is the author of several books on digital media and critical theory, most recently The Interface Effect (Polity, 2012).

Mark B. N. Hansen is Professor of Literature and Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University. His books include Embodying Technesis: Technology Beyond Writing (University of Michigan Press, 2000), New Philosophy for New Media (MIT Press, 2004), Bodies in Code: Interfaces with New Media (Routledge, 2006) and the forthcoming Feed-Forward (University of Chicago Press).

Friedrich A. Kittler (1943–2011) was a literary scholar and media historian. In the course of a long and distinguished career, Kittler pioneered a new technologically inflected approach to the humanities. He was Professor of Aesthetics and History of Media at the Humboldt University, Berlin, and held visiting professorships at Columbia University, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley and other institutions. His works include Discourse Networks 1800/1900 (Stanford University Press, 1990), Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (Stanford University Press, 1999) and Musik und Mathematik (Wilhelm Fink, 2006; 2009).

Anthony Moore is Professor of Art and Media Sciences at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM), where he works on the theory and history of sound. Initially Professor for Musik, Klang, Geräusch and founder of the Music Department, from 2000 to 2004 he was the elected Rector of the Academy in Cologne. He is the founder of the symposia ‘per->SON’ and festival series ‘Nocturnes’.

Gill Partington is Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She works on media, fictionality, histories of reading and the material text. Her recent work includes articles on textual erasure and a chapter on the work of Tom McCarthy. She has also co-edited two volumes with Adam Smyth: Missing Texts, a 2013 special edition of Critical Quarterly, and Book Destruction in the West (Palgrave, 2014).

John Durham Peters is A. Craig Baird Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Speaking into the Air (University of Chicago Press, 1999), Courting the Abyss (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and a forthcoming book, The Marvelous Clouds.

Stephen Sale is a PhD candidate at the London Consortium. His research focuses on the relationship between technology and culture, with a particular interest in German media theory. He has published articles in several journals including Theory, Culture & Society and Journal of War and Culture Studies.

Laura Salisbury is a Senior Lecturer in Medicine and English Literature at the University of Exeter. She is the author of Samuel Beckett: Laughing Matters, Comic Timing (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) and the co-editor of Neurology and Modernity: A Cultural History of Nervous Systems, 1800–1950 (Palgrave, 2010). She is currently writing a study of the relationship between modernism, modernity and neurological theories of language, entitled Aphasic Modernism: A Revolution of the Word.

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young completed an MA at the University of Freiburg and a PhD at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, where he is now Professor of German in the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies. He is the author of Kittler and the Media (Polity, 2010). His main areas of research are theories of media and cultural techniques and issues related to the emergence of the posthumanities in Germany and North America.