"The Server" by Markus Krajewski

The Server A Media History from the Present to the Baroque Markus Krajewski, Ilinca Iurascu

Publication date:
19 Jun 2018
Yale University Press
456 pages: 235 x 156mm
17 b-w illus.

A cutting-edge media history on a perennially fascinating topic, which attempts to answer the crucial question: Who is in charge, the servant or the master?

Though classic servants like the butler or the governess have largely vanished, the Internet is filled with servers: web, ftp, mail, and others perform their daily drudgery, going about their business noiselessly and unnoticed. Why then are current-day digital drudges called servers? Markus Krajewski explores this question by going from the present back to the Baroque to study historical aspects of service through various perspectives, be it the servants’ relationship to architecture or their function in literary or scientific contexts. At the intersection of media studies, cultural history, and literature, this work recounts the gradual transition of agency from human to nonhuman actors to show how the concept of the digital server stems from the classic role of the servant.

Markus Krajewski is professor of media history at the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he lives. He is the author of numerous articles and several books. Ilinca Iurascu is assistant professor of German at the University of British Columbia. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

“In this rich genealogy of the concept of the server Krajewski blends literary and historical evidence and media studies—brilliantly thought-provoking!”—Ann Blair, author of Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age