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LITERARY CRITICISM | Summer Class: 2015



. while still others would call the same phenomenon simply modernism. themselves equally unstable. 2015) 2 Hasaan. no clear consensus about its meaning exists among scholars. The general difficulty is compounded in this case by two factors: (a) the relative youth of the term postmodernism. the term suffers from a certain semantic instability: that is. Thus some critics mean by postmodernism what others call avant-gardism or even neo-avant-gardism. and (b) its semantic kinship to more current terms.1 | Page Postmodernism 1 SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND “All new news is old news happening to new people” -Malcolm Muggeridge “A late-20th-century style and concept in the arts. and criticism that represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of ‘art. Furthermore. in a (May 8.oxforddictionaries. Ihab. architecture. because defining it is paradoxical to its very nature. Toward a Concept of Postmodernism.’”1 It is difficult to define Postmodernism. 1987. therefore. www.2 This paper. is restricted to an attempt to show the idea that surrounds Postmodernism without committing to the danger of 1 “Postmodernism”.

be that 3 Michael Foucault. 2. 1980. trans.2 | Page limiting a possible Postmodernism. believe that historical facts are inaccessible. concrete definition of 2 HISTORY AND WORLDVIEW: PREMODERN. The less radical of them. MODERN AND POSTMODERN “I am well aware that I have never written anything but fictions.Postmodernism: Rearranging the furniture of the Universe. 4 Fayaz Chagan. In other words. Colin Gordon. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977. There are two ways Postmodernists look at history. however.4 That subjectivity cannot be removed discounted from the equation.1 PRE-MODERN (CLASSICISM + + ROMANTICISM) NEOCLASSICISM 800 BC → 1800s The pre-modern worldview held that natural and supernatural exist side-by-side. 1998. Many of the people's sense of self and purpose were often expressed via a faith in some form of deity.”3 –Michael Foucault The above quote by Foucault reflects the Postmodernists view of history. It seems to me that it is possible to make fiction work inside of truth. I do not mean to go so far as to say that fictions are beyond the truth. . the difference between terms such as revolution and rebellion depends upon its success. The radical Postmodernists advocate the nihilist perspective that there is no ultimate purpose of history or grand design.

Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present.2 Neo-Classicism and Romanticism The main Neo-classical movement coincided with the 18th century Age of Enlightenment.1.6 2.3 | Page in a single God or in many gods. 5 Tirosh-Samuelson. and well-being. they used the scientific methods to prove the belief about nature. 2011. Happiness in premodern Judaism: Virtue. It ended around the Hellenistic Period. analysis. 6 M. This meant that religion had a strong hold over social order and general belief. Their focus was to achieve perfection that is God through imitation of nature.5 And that there was no direct communication between the gods and common men but a chosen few were mediums of the gods with the men. In other words. Enlightenment was an era where intellectual forces in Western Europe emphasized reason. and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority. It was marked the foundations laid down by the great philosophers such as Socrates.A. H.R Habib. . knowledge. 2003. 2. and continued into the early 19th century. It began from the Classical Period stretched up to the Romantic Period. Coinciding with the neoclassical movement meant that the empirical way of viewing the world was reconciled with the classicism.1 Classicism People believed that nature is the creation of the divine and that men can only imitate the higher form of creation which is nature. latterly competing with Romanticism. Plato and Aristotle.1.

because it is a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study.8 A People’s worldview is. To have a better idea. 2008. as a social being and men as declassified or equal beings. literature. New information about the world was discovered via empirical observation. F. because it's not clear exactly when postmodernism begins. music. Modernism.. however. communications. Joseph. and culture is permeable to time past. “Postmodernism is hard to define. thus throwing back the shroud of myth under which pre-modern peoples lived. we have to contrast the term from what it seems to counter. sociology. 2. architecture. including art. Perhaps the easiest way to start thinking about postmodernism is by thinking about modernism the. W. Man as a selfconscious being. of what Postmodernism is and. Western civilization made a gradual transition from premodernity to modernity when scientific methods were developed which led many to believe that the use of science would lead to all knowledge. time present. POST MODERNISM There is no sharp-black-and-white distinction between Modernism and Postmodernism since history is a palimpsest.2 MODERNISM (LATE MODERN PERIOD) 1850 – late 1900s In contrast to the pre-modern era. what it is not. film. fashion. Modern and Postmodern all at once. and time future. 1993 . a bit of a Romantic. or break-out of. and technology. It's hard to locate it temporally or historically.3 MODERNISM VS. moreover. & Kaufmann.7 Man was the center of perspective.4 | Page 2. A. E. then.”9 7 Baird. A Postmodern Reader. move-on from. 8 Natoli. Philosophic classics: From Plato to Derrida. movement from which postmodernism seems to grow or emerge.

He can say.12 The result of such Phenomena is what has been coined by Jean-François Lyotard as “crisis of representation”. What is Post Modernism. language. 2006 10 Jencks. he will nevertheless have said what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her. sexual and cultural diversity. transparency and honest simplicity have been valued among the modern virtues. Postscript to the Name of the Rose. the perplexity of how to handle ‘the already said’. I love you madly’. 1996 13 Lyotard . that is. having avoided false innocence. 1996 11 Umberto Eco. ‘As Barbara Cartland would put it. ‘I love you madly’.13 In literature. Charles. Jean-François. the style and subject of postmodernism recognizes ethnic. Charles. While irony and ambiguity characterize postmodern architecture and literature. Mary.5 | Page Straightforwardness. Still there is a solution. At this point. While modernist texts could only describe 9 Klages.10 As pointed out in Postscript to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco: “I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her. What is Post Modernism. Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch 12 Jencks. 1984 . having said clearly that it is no longer possible to speak innocently. Since language – speech and writing – is the slowest changing and most imperial of all sign systems. Literary Theory: A guide for the Perplexed. The Postmodern Condition. but he loves her in an age of lost innocence” 11 The Age of Lost Innocence is a pertinent classifier for our time because it stems from an insight into the most dominating of all discourses. because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. it has to confront the problem of lost innocence every day.

While postmodernist writing unabashedly exhibits difference. or any vision of implied unity.4 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF POSTMODERNISM “POSTMODERNITY” It is observable that the beginning of the Postmodernism was not an evolution. diversity. This society is . and a world of surfaces. The development designates a society and culture that has evolved beyond the phases of industrial and finance capitalism. Difference is met with indifference.6 | Page the other from an outside perspective. 2. with no attempt to subsume these under identity. (c) and Postmodernism as a theory. growth or mutation from Modernism but a deliberate form of “anti-modernism”. It is the historical phenomenon. (b) in architecture. recalcitrant to any form of reintegration. While postmodernism shows cold neutrality towards these diversity. a framework of coherence or depth. With modernism. incoherence. experimentation in tradition. distinguishable from and the cause of (a) Postmodernism in literature and art. Heterogeneity is presented as irreducible. In modernism. *insert doubt everything quotation “Postmodernity” is the latest phase in the broad evolution of capitalist economics and culture. difference is still rooted in identity. and relativism in the memory of various absolutes. diversity was brought in to consciousness and is addressed with a positive manifestation of will break down generalized assumptions and biases. however will change over time and a more passive outlook will be adopted by the present postmodernist. This active mentality. the former gives the other a voice for itself.

14 This drive of breaking boundaries of the half of the century has created a mentality of blind acceptance and indifference of the pluralism and diversity as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Brian.R. . and an unprecedented pluralism and diversity at all levels of culture.Postmodernism. as can be observed in their view that there can be no absolute truth. Postmodernists view truth and knowledge as a claim for power. a phase characterized by the global extension of capitalist markets. In our own personal subjective analysis. the predominating role of mass media and images. bang their 14 M.15 “. Big stories or stories of stories). Habib. unprecedented economic and cultural interaction between various parts of the world. postmodernism’s view is in a nihilist perspective. Jean-François. I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives. is to liberate man from all these constraints: theological. 15 Fayaz Chagan.7 | Page often called consumer capitalism. Simplifying to the extreme. Neo-classicism or Modernism.A. cannot be trusted. The aim. Massumi. 16 Lyotard. moral and social. Therefore. Literary Criticism. This contemporary social order or revolution is different from its predecessors. They believe that nothing can be as affirmative as what is asserted by science and other forms of objective knowledge. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge trans.” 16 Postmodernists are against “metanarratives” (French word trans. which were fueled by a will for general knowledge and unification of disciplines. Unlike in Classicism. mass migration of labor. 1984. for them. the Premodern tried to conquer the world.

c) No theory can ever explain all things consistently (Godel's incompleteness theorem). approximate. h) Thus absolute and certain truth that explains all things is unobtainable. Mach. #AllLies. Carnap).1 JEAN FRANCOIS LYOTARD .” The Modern was the frontier to new heights and depths. Popper). texted each other and twitted. g) Metaphysics is empty of content. banged their chests and shout. f) Science concepts are mental constructs (logical positivism. “My god is perfect. My god is power. b) No theory can ever be proved true . “I am man. and shout.” The Postmodernist bridged gaps.we can only show that a theory is false (Popper). Bohr). I science. d) There is always a separation between our mind & ideas of things and the thing in itself (Kant). Kuhn. I do everything. and is constantly evolving (Nietzsche.8 | Page chests. (*insert picture of ex) 4 POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHERS 4.” *insert HouseMD 3 POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHY a) All truth is limited. e) Physical reality is not deterministic (Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. “#Doubteverything.

most of the works trace back to specific tenets of previous art and literature movements. Chuck. Although postmodern literature and art may seem to have no purpose outside of this context.2 POPULAR CULTURE Postmodernists reject the idea that there is a separation between high art and popular forms of art. 5. 5.2 JEAN BAUDRILLARD 5 PRINCIPLES AND TENETS LANDER (BY: CHUCK 17 OF EHOW. postmodern literature blends high and low culture.3 PARODY AND IRONY In order to undercut or criticize aspects of modern literature.1 CRITIQUE OF PREVIOUS MOVEMENTS Postmodernism grew as a response to the modernist movement.9 | Page 4. often using slang.COM) 5. What Are the Tenets of Postmodernism in Literature? www. which artists in the postmodern era see as no longer valid. postmodern works often represent modern art in parody or use it as the punchline for ironic 17 Lander. Therefore.ehow. which divided culture into high art and lower art.html (5 May 2015) . advertising or other aspects of popular culture to create different combinations of artistic It presumed that artistic greatness had specific and definable forms.

4 FRAGMENTATION Aspects of modern and realist work. Making a joke about a modernist tenet displays. Characters in a metanarrative often refer to and understand the fact that they are fictional characters in a story. a feat that is only obtainable because the text is aware of itself as a work of fiction. Fragmented narratives also present the world in a way that does not follow traditional plot or standards of beauty. 5. . which postmodern artists might say demonstrates the fact that their narratives are truer to reality. which means that the text is aware and comments on itself as a text and a work of art.5 META-NARRATIVE Postmodern work is often self-aware. the futility of trying to bring order to a chaotic and violent world. Black humor and comedy as a response to the horrors of life grew from the cultural context after World War II in which postmodernism began. which creates non-linear narratives and fragmented stories which may not seem to have any narrative structure at all. become distorted in postmodern literature.10 | P a g e jokes. according to a postmodern ethos. in which time and space are linear and coherent. 5. such as the concepts of morality or the possibility of happy endings. Metanarratives may also speak directly to the reader. Postmodernism experiments with storytelling to challenge the coherency of value systems of the traditional narrative.

htm http://anthropology. creating in some cases what is called the “Theatre of the 6 CRITICISMS “Postmodernism is whatever the f*ck you want it to be” –Billy Courgan “[Postmodernism is] weird for the sake of weird” -Moe Szyslak18 7 APPLICATION” According to the postmodern system of beliefs.reocities. characters and art which are meant to be truer to life because of their nonsensical or absurd nature. .allaboutworldview. Some postmodern literature raises this criticism by creating ABSURDITY Postmodern work can take the tenets of modernism and realism and push them to http://www.php? culture=Postmodernism%20and%20Its%20Critics 18 The Simpsons.11 | P a g e 5. the very attempt of modernists to try to make sense out of life or art is Season 13 Episode nism.spaceandmotion.htm http://en.wikipedia.html http://www.

edu/entries/postmodernism/ .12 | P a g e http://plato.stanford.