Reviews in Cultural Theory: Under the Hood of Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology
The allure of the archive as a concept, space, form, and metaphor has proven irresistible for continentally inflected media and cultural studies over the last two decades. The “archive fever” diagnosed by Derrida in 1995 has only become more acute as the ever-accelerating digitization of culture, memory, and history has fundamentally reconfigured archives, both real and imaginary. Digital Memory and the Archive intervenes in this ‘archival’ moment by offering the first major collection of essays in English by one of the central figures in contemporary ‘German’ media theory and a thinker for whom archive has been an animating concern, Wolfgang Ernst. The book offers a much anticipated entry point into Ernst’s influential work, which has hitherto been largely absent from contemporary debates in North American media and communication studies around new materialism and the nonhuman turn. Ernst’s provocative propositions about doing media theory, writing media history, and the state of media studies as a discipline make the book of interest to readers not just in those fields, but also in communication and information studies, computer science, history, and the (digital) humanities more broadly.