Claus Pias is Professor of History and Media Epistemology at the Institute of Culture and Media Aesthetics at the University of Lüneburg (Germany) – and the national and increasingly international resonance to his work has given him the well-deserved aura and reputation of being “the Friedrich Kittler of the present generation.” If Friedrich Kittler’s intellectual energy and genius, since the early 1980s, were the driving force behind the emergence of “Media Science/Media Studies” as a new academic discipline in Germany and later on internationally, Claus Pias, who was Kittler’s student at the University of Bochum, has taken this first impulse and its centrifugal effects to a new intellectual level. One of the main reasons for the singular quality of his work certainly lies in the unusual profile of his academic education: in addition to Philosophy, German Studies, and Art History, Pias studied Electrical Engineering at the highly renowned Technical University of Aachen. This combination of a first-hand engineering competence with a complex and historically differentiated philosophical view seems to be unmatched in the world of Media Studies today – at least within their European context. Beside having thus occupied, for more than a decade now, the place of a central figure of reference in the development of “Media Studies,” Pias is also the editor and co-editor of about twenty collective volumes charting this field, and the author of two seminal monographs: “Die Epoche der Kybernetik” (Stuttgart 2003) and “ComputerSpielWelten” (München 2002, with translations into English and Italian).
The lecture by Claus Pias will not only be an important contribution to the ongoing discussion between the Humanities and disciplines involved with electronic technology at Stanford; it will also provide a fresh impression of one of the most active areas of intellectual intensity and concentration within contemporary German culture.