General Introduction

  • modernism--a bundle of cultural practices, some of them adversarial;
  • modernization--an economic process with social and cultural implications;
  • modernity--overlaps with the modernization process, but which I understand as a philosophical category designating the temporality of the post-traditional world (Frow 139).
    modernization --dominated by the Weberian concept of rationality. . . instrumental rationality generated by the logic of capital (Frow 140)
Where the breaks are-- 
  • dating modernism--The beginning of literary modernism, 1900 or a bit later. 

  • "High art since 1914 is no longer bourgeois but produced by and for intellectual" (David Roberts qut in  Frow 143)
Definitions of the "post"  --  
  • Gianni Vattimore  The End of Modernity (Oxford 1988)  -- post--"taking leave of"

  • The condition of modernity . . . is dominated by the idea that the history of thought is a progressive 'enlightenment' which develops toward an ever more complete appropriation and reappropriation of its own 'foundations.'  Modernity, in this sense, is characterised by a consciousness of an 'overcoming' of past understandings and a striving toward future 'overcoming' in the name of a deeper recognition of that which is fundamentally legitimating and 'true,' whether this is within science, the arts, morality or any other realm of thought or practice.   . . . In 'taking leave' of modernity, Vatiimo argues, postmodernity is marked by a departure from the very process of overcoming that the prefix 'post-' would seem to suggest.  (Kaye 1-2) 
  • Lyotard  The Postmodern Conditions 

  • "Postmodernism is undoubtedly a part of the modern.. . . A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern.  Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state, and this state is constant. . . . Post modern would have to be understood according to the paradox of the future (post) anterior (modo)." 
  • Since 'modern' comes from the Latin modo meaning 'just now', 'post-modern' obviously means 'after' just now--or sometimes beyond, contra, above, ultra, meta, out-side-of the present.  This attack on the present tense is motivated by the idea of living across time, in an historical and cultural continuum that stretches into the future. . . . the post-modern is the continuation of modernity and its transcendence.  In this sense it is critical." (Jencks 14; ). 
  • The phrase thus carries the weight of all the 'posties' that have been around since the 1880s and Post-Impressionism: post-industrial, post-historic, Post-Capitalist, . .  .Common to all these usages is the notion of posteriority, the transition from a known classifier to an unknown but suggestive future (Jencks 15 See a list of "Seventy Posts" in Jencks 14-15)
  • post--after and because of (Liao 42)


 Rose, Margaret A.  The Post-Modern and the Post-Industrial. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. 
introductory; a very useful guide.  [e.g.  
  • good introd. to Lyotard and Lyotard-Habermass debate on pp. 54- 65; 
  • summary of Lyotard's "postmodern sublime" in his 1982 text on p. 55; 
  • summaries of definitions of "the postmodern" and "post-industrial" in a chronological order on pp. 169-75.] 

Views on architecture --Jameson, et al. 
p. 76  In addition to describing the place taken by popular images in post-modernist architecture in a way which does not accurately describe either post-modern architecture, or theories of postmodern architecture such as Jencks's, Jameson's identification of John Portman's Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles as 'post-modernist' in his 1984 article . . . has also classified something as 'postmodern' which Jencks and other architectural historians have described as either modernist or late-modernist.   
    Jameson: an example of a 'decentering hyperspace' 
    Jencks: an example of 'late Modernism,' and he contrasted its exaggeration of the 'Modernist extension of space' with the more humanised space of that which is for him the typically post-modern building. pp. 76-78. 
    Habermas's 1980 and 1981 essays have described post-modernist architecture as being both anti-modernist and anti-modern.  p. 87 [e.g. the cult of the vernacular and the admiration of the banal.]


Connor, Steven.  Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary.  2nd Ed.  Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1997.
  • The book offers a clear explanation of the major theorists on postmodernity (Lyotard, Jameson and Baudrillard), as well as an introduction to different forms of postmodernism.
  • The book is not only introductory, but highly critical from a discursive perspective. 
differences between the 80's and the 90's; or the first edition and the second edition of this book 
(vii) Since the publication of the first edition of this book in 1989, the most noticeable change has been the steady overtaking of the first, shall we call it, genealogical kind of postmodernism by what may be termed the analogical postmodernism of the second kind. . . . Increasingly, disciplinary areas have sought to define their own postmodernist regimes in relation to those prevailing elsewhere, rather than by reference to their own histories.  It would be possible to represent this generalization of 'pomo-envy' as one more symptom of the contemporary flattening of historical awareness were it not that looking over their . . . disciplinary shoulder at other kinds of postmodernism, seems to have driven many particular disciplines into a renewed investiagation of their own genealogies. 

His view on the postmodern debate   
p. 9  We need . . . to ask different questions of the postmodernism debate.  Instead of wondering how accurately postmodern criticism reflects real conditions obtaining in the cultural and social sphere, we need to consider the ways in which the debate comes out of a redefined relationship between the critical and the social-cultural spheres.  Instead of asking, what is postmodernism?, we should ask, where, how and why does the discourse of postmodernism flourish?, what is at stake in its debates?, who do they address and how?  The series of questions shifts attention from the meaning or content of the debate to its form and function, so that, . . . we ask, not, what does postmodernism mean?, but what does it do? 

Postmodernism and the Academy p. 14-15 
. . . we can see, alongside the narrowing and professionalization of the humanties, a certain broadening or consolidation, at least until the early 1980s, of their prestige and perceived value in the West.  Most of this has to do with its function of imparting cultural competence in a unifying and filtering way to a widening constituency of consumers.  But, partly as a consequence of this widening constituency, the sense of what constitutes culture began to broaden and distort.  . . .'Culture' has expanded, not because of any actual enlargement of opportunities for and varieties of cultural experience, but because of an expansion of diversification of the forms in which cultural experience is mediated.  The academy may not be the only such mediating form, but it is a very important one.   

Literature as an example  
p. 112  If academic business architecture theory and art history can be compared to large and successful businesses, marketing a range of variations on a single product in a world market, then literary studies are much more like a multinational conglomerate, selling and distributing a large number of diverse products in different ways and by different means.   

p. 133 Postmodernist literature obediently falls into step with the motifs and preoccuppations of institutionalized post-structuralist theory . . . , resonating in sympathy with all its hermeneutic requirements.  More importantly, the postmodernist literary text -- or prevailing critical conceptions of the postmodernist literary text -- serves to concentrate radical or skeptical theory into an institutionally usable form, allowing the business of the literary academy -- the interpretation of texts, the production of and accreditation of readings and methodologies -- to go on as usual.