Postmodernism defined

Posted: November 25, 2012 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14

Monday’s session will be an exploratoon of some of the theories you could include in your report.

Here’s one example – Postmodernism. A few exerpts for you to read here and here. Have a read through these, and be prepared to discuss this  in the last hour of Monday’s session.

Features of Postmodernism

Most conspicuously in the visual arts, but shown to varying degrees in novels and poetry, Postmodernism has these four features: 

1. iconoclasm:

decanonizes cultural standards, previous artworks and authorities denies authority to the author, discounting his intentions and his claim to act as spokesman for a period contradicts the expected, often deliberately alienating the reader subverts its sources by parody, irony and pastiche denounces ethnic, gender and cultural repression strips context, reducing content to an austere minimum broods on the human condition disclosed by radical literary theory

2. groundless:

employs flat, media-like images that have no reference beyond themselves champions the primary, unmediated but not sensuous regards both art and life as fictions, sometimes mixing the two in magic realism or multiple endings argues that meaning is indeterminate, denying a final or preferred interpretation

3. formlessness:

repudiates modernism’s preoccupation with harmony and organic form narrows the aesthetic distance, art being something to enter into or act out rather than simply admire fragments texts, turning them into collages or montages avoids the shaping power of metaphor and other literary tropes mixes genres with pastiche, travesty and cliché promotes the fluid and socially adaptable

4. populism:

employs material from a wide social spectrum eschews elitist, literary language avoids the serious and responsible, promoting the arbitrary and playful accepts media images as the most accessible contemporary reality, making these the building blocks of art

Take from Ihab Hassan’s The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture (1987), Richard Harland’s Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism (1987), Alex Callinicos’s Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique (1989), and Chapters 14 and 15 in Alastair Fowler’s A History of English Literature (1987).



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