Focus.de reports that media theorist Friedrich Kittler died yesterday. He was sixty-eight years old. Kittler was born in East Germany in 1943 and his family fled to West Germany in 1958. He attended the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg where he was heavily influenced by the work of Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault. After receiving his doctorate in philosophy?his thesis was on the poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer?he taught as a visiting professor at variety of colleges in the United States, including the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. During the 1980s he headed the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft?s (DFG) Literature and Media Analysis project and taught Modern German Studies at taught at Ruhr University. In 1993, he was appointed the chair for Media Aesthetics and History at the Humboldt University of Berlin and was also awarded the Siemens Media Art Prize by the Center for Art and Media Technology. In 1996 he was honored as a distinguished scholar at Yale University and in 1997 recognized as distinguished visiting professor at Columbia University. Since 2005 he has been a professor at the European Graduate School (EGS) in Switzerland.
EGS has stated that Kittler?s ?innovative media theories have transformed the nature of technological scholarship and led the way in the field . . . he has pushed theoretical works of literary scholars into technological fields with unprecedented modes of critical thought. Through his unique brand of media determinism his work is influencing new generations of students across the world.? Or, as Kittler so saliently put in a June 2010 lecture at EGS: ?Either machines or humans are in control. However, since the latter possibility is just as obvious as it is trivial, everything depends on how the former is played out. We must be able to pass on to the coming generations?if not as the legacy of these times then as a kind of message in a bottle?what computer technology meant to the first generation it effected.?