What is Postmodernism?
Postmodernism is difficult to define, even for theorists, and postmodern concepts exist within texts of varied time frames, so it can be a challenge to determine whether or not a film, novel, or art piece, etc. can be labeled as “postmodern.” To help clarify the concept of postmodernism, I have gathered information from academic resources across the inter webs and summarized it here.
Key Postmodern Concepts
- Meta-narratives are displaced, and people no longer believe there are absolute ways to explain reality. Postmodernism rejects universal truths and plays with interpretations, multiple perspectives, uncertainties, and contradictions.
- Style, spectacle, special effects, and images are given precedence over content, character, substance, and narrative.
- Narratives are mini, local, fragmented, or non-linear.
- Time and space are less stable; they are more confused, incoherent, and disunified.
- There is a lack of distinction between the imagined and real.
- Postmodernism contains elements like parody, ironic quotation, pastiche, appropriation, intertextuality, or bricolage.
The Postmodern Film
According to Norman K. Denzin, there are six characteristics present in the postmodern film.
- An effacement of boundaries between past and present.
- Terrorizing the nostalgia of the past, in which signifiers of the past act as signs of destruction.
- A presentation of the unpresentable, such as imagination, dreams, or impossible happenings.
- Wild sexuality or violence. Nothing is hidden.
- A featuring of the femme fatale trope.
- Locating violent margins in everyday society.
Top Names in Postmodern Theory
The following are well-known and widely discussed postmodern theorists, listed with their most famous or influential publications. Book links lead directly to the full texts or lengthy excerpts.
- Jean-François Lyotard – The Postmodern Condition
- Jean Baudrillard – Simulacra and Simulation
- Jacques Derrida – Of Grammatology
- Slavoj Žižek – Welcome to the Desert of the Real
This site will feature examples of the postmodern in film, art, theory, and culture. Welcome to my simulacrum, and cheers to you.