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Introduction to

Postmodernism

Why Reality Isnt What


It Used to Be

Deconstructing Mrs.
Miller

Questions
1.What is postmodernism?
2.Why should we care about it?
3.Have you received a modern or postmodern education?
4.What does postmodernism have to say about your identity?
5.What does postmodernism have to say about truth, beauty,

and goodness?

6.How postmodernism is impacting K-12 education, religion, the

arts, and our daily lives.

Timeline

as

Evolution of Western Thought


Naturalistic

Theocentric

Economic
Humanistic
TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

Timeline

Modernity
RENAISSANCE TO ABOUT 1900 (+/- 30 years)
Baudrillard:

Early modernity:

Modernity:

Postmodernity:

Renaissance to Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution
Period of mass media

The world according to white Anglo-Saxon males from Europe

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

Timeline

Your Place in History


14th C

1900

Modern

2000

Modernism

Postmodernism

You are here

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

Timeline

Your Place in History


as
14th C

1900

Modern

Modernism

2000

Postmodernism

Your teachers were / are here

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

Newtonian Order

Modernity

God, reason and progress

There was a center to the universe.

Progress is based upon knowledge, and man is


capable of discerning objective absolute truths in
science and the arts.
Modernism is linked to capitalismprogressive
economic administration of world
Modernization of 3rd world countries (imposition of
modern Western values)

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

What Is Language?

Language & Truth


as

People are the same everywhere

There are universal laws and truths

Knowledge is objective, independent of culture, gender,


etc.
Language is a man-made tool that refers to real things /
truths

I, the subject, speak language

I have a discernible self

The self is the center of existence

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

Purpose of Literature

Liberal Humanism: View of


Literature

Good literature is of timeless significance.


The text will reveal constants, universal truths,
about human nature, because human nature
itself is constant and unchanging.

TRADITIONAL WESTERN MODERN THINKING

Death of the Old Order

Modernism

Early 1900s:

World War I

Worldwide poverty & exploitation

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Death of the Old Order

Modernism

Early 1900s:

World War I

Worldwide poverty & exploitation

Intellectual upheaval:

Freud: psychoanalysis

Marx: class struggle

Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Neitzsche

Picasso, Stravinsky, Kafka, Proust, Brecht, Joyce, Eliot

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

The Bending of Time & Space

Relativism

E=mc2

Einstein: relativity, quantum mechanics

Refutation of Newtonian science

Time is relative

Matter and energy are one

Light as both particle and wave

Universe is strange

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Breaking the Rules

Modernist Art

Cubism

Surrealism

Dadaism

Expressionism

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Breaking the Rules

Modernist Art

Cubism

Surrealism

Dadaism

Expressionism

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Breaking the Rules

Modernist Art

Cubism

Surrealism

Dadaism

Expressionism

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Breaking the Rules

Modernist Art

Cubism

Surrealism

Dadaism

Expressionism

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

A World with No Center

Modernist Literature
Things fall apart,
The centre cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
--Yeats, The Second Coming

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Breaking the Rules

Modernist Literature

Emphasis on impressionism and subjectivity


Movement away from objective third-party
narration

Tendency toward reflexivity and self-consciousness

Obsession with the psychology of self

Rejection of traditional aesthetic theories

Experimentation with language

PRECURSORS OF POSTMODERNISM

Acceptance of a New Age

What is Postmodernism?

Continuation of modernist view


Does not mourn loss of history, self, religion,
center
A term applied to all human sciences
anthropology, psychology, architecture, history,
etc.

Reaction to modernism; systematic skepticism

Anti-foundational

POSTMODERNISM

Acceptance of a New Age

What is Postmodernism?

The Enlightenment project is dead.

POSTMODERNISM

Culture & Capital

Frederick Jameson

Modernism and postmodernism are cultural formations that accompany specific


stages of capitalism
1.
Market capitalism: 18th-19th C.
Steam locomotive Realism
2.
Monopoly capitalism: Late 19th C to WWII
Electricity and automobile Modernism
3.
Multinational/consumer capitalism
Nuclear and electronics
Postmodernism

POSTMODERNISM

The End of Master Narratives

Postmodernism: Basic Concepts

Life just is

Rejection of all master narratives

All truths are contingent cultural constructs

Skepticism of progress; anti-technology bias

Sense of fragmentation and decentered self

Multiple conflicting identities

Mass-mediated reality

POSTMODERNISM

The End of Master Narratives

Postmodernism: Basic Concepts

All versions of reality are SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS

Concepts of good and evil

Metaphors for God

Language

The self

Gender

EVERYTHING!

POSTMODERNISM

Language As Social Construct

Postmodernism: Basic Concepts

Language is a social construct that speaks &


identifies the subject
Knowledge is contingent, contextual and linked to
POWER
Truth is pluralistic, dependent upon the frame of
reference of the observer
Values are derived from ordinary social practices,
which differ from culture to culture and change with
time.
Values are determined by manipulation and domination

POSTMODERNISM

Relativism & Pluralism

Richard Rorty

(1931-)

A pragmatic philosopher

Anti-foundationalist

No reality independent of our minds

Truth is the result of inter-subjective agreement between


members of a community
We must choose between self-defeating relativism or
solidarity of thought within our group
The goal of the search for truth is to help us carry out
practical tasks and create a fairer and more democratic
society

POSTMODERNISM

The Observer is King

Postmodern View of Language

Observer is a participant/part of what is observed

Receiver of message is a component of the message

Information becomes information only when


contextualized

The individual (the subject) is a cultural construct

Consider role of own culture when examining others

All interpretation is conditioned by cultural perspective


and mediated by symbols and practice

POSTMODERNISM

Play and Parody

PostModern Literature

Extreme freedom of form and expression

Repudiation of boundaries of narration & genre

Intrusive, self-reflexive author

Parodies of meta-narratives

Deliberate violation of standards of sense and


decency (which are viewed as methods of social
control)
Integration of everyday experience, pop culture

POSTMODERNISM

Fragmented Identities

PostModern Literature

Parody, play, black humor, pastiche

Nonlinear, fragmented narratives

Ambiguities and uncertainties

Conspiracy and paranoia

Ironic detachment

Linguistic innovations

Postcolonial, global-English literature

POSTMODERNISM

Binary Oppositions

Modernity

PostModern

History as fact

Written by the victors

Faith in social order

Cultural pluralism

Family as central unit

Alternate families

Authenticity of originals

Hyper-reality (MTV)

Mass consumption

Niches; small group identity

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

A gay Southern Baptist who practices


Buddhist meditation and believes in
the Big Bang theory.

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

Modern or Postmodern?

POSTMODERNISM

An Epochal Shift in Thinking

PostModernism

The narrative is unravelled, the author is dead, the


Enlightenment project is toast, and history is history.

An epochal shift in the basic condition in being.


--Geoffrey Nunberg

POSTMODERNISM

Battle of World Views

PostModernism
A Global Battle:
THE OBJECTIVISTS

vs.

THE CONSTRUCTIVISTS

POSTMODERNISM

My Way

PostModernism
OBJECTIVISTS
When I said during my presidential bid that I
would only bring Christians and Jews into the
government, I hit a firestorm. How dare you
maintain that those who believe in the JudeoChristian values are better qualified to govern
America than Hindus and Muslims?' My simple
answer is, `Yes, they are.'
-from Pat Robertson's "The New World Order"

POSTMODERNISM

Metaphors Kill

PostModernism
People were burned at the
stake for believing there was
more than one version of
reality.

POSTMODERNISM

God is Not Dead

PostModernism
Our public schools have become
a postmodern battleground.

POSTMODERNISM

God is Not Dead

PostModernism
You can be a Christian
(or Buddhist, or Hindu, etc.)
in the postmodern world.

POSTMODERNISM

We Live in the Middle

PostModernism
We all slip and slide between the
objective and constructive views:
1. We live in a world of nave realism.
2. But when we think about things, or
have to explain our views, we become
constructivists.

POSTMODERNISM

How Popular Culture Changes


as
RAYMOND WILLIAMS

Dominant ideology controls


Human agency: people work
together to bring about change
Takes into account pluralism
of a culture

POSTSTRUCTURALISM

Acceptance of Pluralism

How Popular Culture Changes


Playboy
Bunnies

Carrie in
Sex & The
City

&
June
Cleaver

Monica in
Friends

Courtney
Love

Samantha
in Sex &
The City

Celebrating Diversity

PostModernism

THE HOPE OF POSTMODERNISTS:

The deconstruction of foundational views


will lead to a recognition and acceptance
of a pluralistic worldview.
Create a truly global civilization.

POSTMODERNISM

Celebrating Diversity

Literary & FilmTheory

Different constructs of reality

Lenses through which we see the world

POSTMODERNISM