What is postmodernism? Discuss some of the similarities and differences between
the various postmodern theorists addressed in the course. How do these theorists
help us to understand the movie “12 Monkeys.”
What is postmodernism?
It is an intellectual movement encompassing the arts, literature, film,
dance, music, architecture, and the social sciences whose aim is to trace
out the theoretical, political, cultural, and moral implications of the
collapse of the idea of progress.
Anything that modernists perceive as “deviant”, postmodernists attempt to
portray as “normal”.
By undermining and rejecting the intellectual foundations of modernity,
like such ideas as progress and essentialism, postmodernists provide
support for cultural movements that go against these ideals: like the civil
rights movement, feminist movement, etc.
Postmodernists reject the idea that there is a single “grand narrative” that
describes all of history, and believe that such grand narratives should be
replaced with a focus on local histories, especially of those who are
Post modernists are also anti-foundationalists, believing that all values and
truths are historically contingent social constructions. That is, they deny
the existence of any transhistorical yardsticks against which the validity of
alternative value systems might be judged.
There are many different degrees of post modernism, which can each help
us in understanding the film: 12 Monkeys.
II. Specific postmodern theorists
A French theorist who was concerned with the changing nature of
“governmentalities”. These are practices by which control is
exercised over people.
In his book
Discipline and Punishment
looked at reform of prison systems, and argued that
although reforms were intended to eliminate cruel forms of
punishment, modern forms of incarceration are actually
more dangerous because they force prisoners to become
instruments of their own oppression.
example: The panopticon is a prison cell structured to
allow guards to observe every action of inmates without
being seen themselves. Thinking that they were always
being watched, the prisoners behaved properly in order to
this depicts the spread of surveillance and control in
His believed that discipline is swarming through society, known as
Carceral archipelago. This means that the process affects some
parts of society and not others, or may affect some parts at one