Week 13 – Postmodernist Thought
Week 13: Postmodernist Thought
Postmodernism is seen as a counter-position to modernism, especially in the
later manifestations of modernism known as structuralism. Which means that
postmodernism is oftentimes associated with poststructuralism
Both concepts of postmodernism and poststructuralism coexist, however,
postmodern refers more to an age, whereas poststructuralism is more of a theoretical
Postmodernism is seen more as an historical condition within which are social,
political, and cultural agendas and resonances.
It is reflective of a mentality of “anything goes”, therefore nothing works, or of a
questioning of the modernist ideals of progress, reason, and science.
Theorists claim that the postmodern condition signals the death of ideology.
It heralds a new skepticism about the modernist belief in the supremacy of the
western world, the legitimacy of science to legislate the construction and function of
gender, and the advocacy of high art over popular culture.
Postmodernism reacts against modernism’s optimistic belief in the benefits of
science and technology to human kind.
Postmodernism represents the erosion of the distinction between high art and
popular culture. It is a conjunctural term at the interface between artifact and the new
moment of capitalism.
The postmodern looks back, is retrospective, is not defined as other, but as
postmodern, as coming after. In its lack of history, it rejects history, and because it has
none if its own – only that of others – the postmodern stands eternally fixed in a series
Response is aestheticism, art for art’s sake, as an end in and of itself which led
to a self-sufficient formalism.
In relation to the contemporary cultural aesthetic, then, the postmodern adopts
In its mainstream mode, it manifests itself through mannerism and stylization,
through pastiche – imitation of what is past.
In its oppositional mode – that is, in its despair in the nothingness of the abyss –
it turns to parody, an ironization of style, form, and content.
Whether mainstream or oppositional, the postmodern aesthetic relies on four
tightly interrelated sets of concepts:
Simulation, which is either parody or pastiche