Sybille Krämer’s ostensible aim in her recently translated book, Medium, Messenger, Transmission: An Approach to Media Philosophy, is to rehabilitate the out-of-fashion concept of “transmission” in media studies. By doing so, this book attempts to develop an avowedly metaphysical answer to media studies’ fundamental question, “what is a medium”? (24). We might situate Krämer’s approach to media in this book by citing the touchstones and antagonists she invokes in its prologue: Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver’s conception of information, positioned as transmission’s avatars, which she pits against Jürgen Habermas’s dialogical conception of communication. But Krämer’s “media philosophy” emerges just as crucially from a critique of what has come to be known—in the anglophone world at least—as “German media theory.” This book’s most striking goal is to displace the foundational autonomy that media is often granted under the auspices of this term.

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