Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the hegemony of the printed word was shattered by the arrival of new media techlogies that offered vel 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 phography, 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 techlogies; 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 techlogical 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 invators 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 techlogies. The book ties the establishment of new discursive practices to the introduction of new media techlogies, and it shows how both determine the ways in which psychoanalysis conceives of the psychic apparatus in terms of information machines.
Friedrich A. Kittler is a professor at the Institute for Aesthetics and Cultural Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin.