Spring for 2011-2012
What is postmodernism? Is it a historical moment that emerges from modernity? Is it a different notion of history itself from that of modernist intellectual work? Is it a set of texts and objects, or a significant change in the ways we discuss such things? Does postmodernism describe a renewed critique of the political economy of capitalism, and its related cultural production? This course is an examination of the meanings of the postmodern in its various approaches. The course emerges from the practices of critical theory and cultural studies, and asks questions about who are the subjects of postmodernism's discourses: for whom is the postmodern a theory of what has happened in the moment of late capitalism? How do theories of the postmodern define the social practices of power and language which define (but do not entirely delimit) us in this historical moment? Do contemporary media reflect the shifts in zeitgeist that critics of the postmodern claim, or perhaps do we simply live in the full realization of modernism's projects?
The course begins with questions of what defines modernism, as it emerges in 19th century European philosophy, politics and aesthetics, and then becomes the full-scaled critical and artistic blossoming of the industrial west in the 20th century. The syllabus then moves to those projects that attempt to historicize postmodernism in distinction to modernism, whereupon we take up critical projects which have emerged more recently in relation to current global political events and the phenomenon of globalization itself.
Other academic years
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