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Winthrop-Young: “More things in theory than heaven and earth are dreaming of” (Interview)

A conversation with Geoffrey Winthrop-Young

by Melle Kromhout and Peter McMurray

As a kind of Christmas-intermission, we conducted an online interview with Professor Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, who has been part of our group endeavor these past couple of months and who recently translated Cultural Techniques; Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real, a collection of essays by Bernhard Siegert published by Fordham University Press this month.

Besides translating Friedrich Kittler’s seminal Gramophone, Film Typewriter together with Michael Wutz in 1999 (Stanford: Stanford University Press), Geoffrey Winthrop-Young translated Cornelia Vismann’s Files: Law and Media Technology (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008) and Eva Horn’s The Secret War: Treason, Espionage and Modern Fiction (Evanston: Northwestern University Press: 2013) and essays by various authors. He is also the author of numerous articles on Friedrich Kittler, German Media Theory and Cultural Techniques, as well as two book length introductions to the work of Kittler: one in German (Friedrich Kittler zur Einführung, Hamburg, Junius, 2005) and one in English (Kittler and the Media, Cambridge: Polity, 2011).

In the interview, we discuss the newly translated collection of essays by Siegert, the concept of Cultural Techniques and its relation to what has been called ‘German Media Theory’ in general and the work of Kittler more specifically, as well as the development of Siegert’s own work over the years. We also briefly tackled the practice of translating this kind of scholarly work, which can of course be regarded as a specific kind of media operation, relying on a specific set of cultural techniques, in its own right.

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