"Postmodernity" refers to the current historical era and its spirit of skepticism toward the Enlightenment concepts of perpetual progress, absolute truth, and the superiority of science to other ways of knowing, as well as an attitude of openness toward global cultural integration, new technologies, and social ambiguity.
A recent movement in philosophy, the arts and social sciences characterized by scepticism towards the grand claims and grand theory of the modern era, and their privileged vantage point, stressing in its place an openness to a range of voices in social enquiry, artistic experimentation and political empowerment (Johnston et al. 1994).
A philosophical school which views modernism as being ethnocentric and tied to western intellectual and economic colonialism. The view that wholesale adoption of modern western cultural values, economic practices, social organizations, ways of thinking, and personality development are not necessary or even desirable for all peoples.
a social movement or fashion amongst intellectuals centring around a rejection of modernist values of rationality, progress and a conception of social science as a search for over-arching explanations of human nature or the social and cultural world. By contrast, postmodernists celebrate the fall of such oppressive grand narratives, emphasizing the fragmented and dispersed nature of contemporary experience.
A philosophical and socio-historical movement that challenges the progress-oriented master narrative of Enlightenment and positivist traditions. At the beginning of the twentieth century, linguists and philosophers questioned the possibility that language can truly reflect reality, or that there can be any essential, categorical, or transcendental truth claims made about the world. From the unspeakable violence of the Holocaust, to the assertion of gender and other personal traits as being malleable and socially constructed, postmodernism has sought to explain the many uncertainties, ironies, contradictions, and multiple points of view that animate the world. Postmodern art and literature is often self-consciously reflexive, questioning the nature of the text and the authority and existence of the author; it uses techniques like pastiche, metanarrative, nonlinear constructions, absurdity, and irony. Postmodernism is at once a literary style, a critical and theoretical movement, and a description of the socio-cultural world of globalized consumer capitalism.
emerging from, reacting to, or suspending, modernism. Detailed description
genre of art and literature and especially architecture in reaction against principles and practices of established modernism
In the 1970's the dominant styles of art - Minimalism and Conceptualism - seemed to no longer fit in a world struggling with a myriad of social problems; as a result, a plurality of styles developed. Some Post-modernists forcefully expressed a desire to do away with art that seemed to have no meaningful content, and began to turn back to figurative art and the establishment of meaning. Other Post-modernists attempted to extend modern art in new ways by appropriating earlier styles, which they modified. Due to the sheer variety of sources and styles it is difficult to catergorize Post-modern artists
a controversial body of theory challenging the legitimating metanarratives of modernity, leading to a social condition characterized by the dubious value of all endeavors and statements; ie, culture exists in surface multiform.
unlike Modernism, Postmodernism starts from the assumption that grand utopias are impossible. It accepts that reality is fragmented and that personal identity is an unstable quantity transmitted by a variety of cultural factors. Postmodernism advocates an irreverent, playful treatment of one's own identity, and a liberal society.
A reaction to the optimistic modernist perspectives on truth, reason, and science. Postmodernism values subjectivity over objectivity, feeling over reasoning, creativity over conformity, defining meaning over seeking meaning, and tolerance over discernment. It especially supports such ideas as sexual and cultural diversity, religious pluralism, moral relativism, and an individualized view of "truth."
a belief that individuals are merely constructs of social forces, that there is no transcendent truth that can be known; a rejection of any one world view or explanation of reality as well as a rejection of the reality of objective truth.
A term that has come to describe the stylistic developments that depart from the norms of modernism. Postmodernism questions the validity of the emphasis of modernists on logic, simplicity, and order, suggesting that ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradiction may also have a valid place.
A literary and artistic movement that flourished in the late twentieth century as both a departure from and development of MODERNISM. Postmodernism is frequently characterized by self-consciousness and self-reflexiveness: Postmodern literature is aware of the way it operates in a long literary tradition and responds to this awareness by revealing or referring to itself. Postmodern literature differs from modern literature in its emphasis on surface rather than depth, humor rather than psychological anguish, and space rather than time.
Generally, postmodernism refers to a phase in Western history that coincides with the information revolution and new forms of economic, social and cultural life. Postmodernism names a period—the current era—and points to the fundamental differences of this era from even the recent past (i.e., modernism, ranging from roughly the mid 19 th to the mid 20 th century). Postmodernism views the search for truth as project whose real aim is achieving social power and control, and is suspicious of any “grand narratives” or theories that seek to provide the single explanation for how human beings act (such as Freudian psychoanalysis) or how societies function (Marxism, for example). Postmodernism also refers to styles and movements in arts and culture which express this skeptical attitude, characterized by self-consciousness, formal and stylistic borrowing, irony, pastiche, parody, recycling, sampling, and a mixing of high and low culture. See also Close-Up box 6.1 in textbook.
Focuses on the observer instead of the observed in anthropology; states there is no true objectivity and the scientific method in anthropology is not possible.
is still a much debated term within the history of art. When it started, what it means, and even whether or not it exists at all are all questions still asked by many artists and academics alike. In general terms any work of art made after the Modernist era should be considered postmodern. A reasonable assertion would be that the term was first applied to a trend in the architecture of the late sixties. This new form of creation concerned itself with combining styles of past movements and allowed for the viewer to assert her own interpretation as an important part of the work.
Anti-conventional in the way of modernism, but echoing the all-encompassing doubts of the post-war post-Holocaust period, such as relating to nuclear or environmental disasters.
Any perspective that emphasizes a breakdown of Enlightenment ideals. In anthropology and other social sciences, the term implies the rejection of the validity of purported objective categories or scientific methods.
A worldview that emphasizes the existence of different worldviews and concepts of reality. Whereas modernism emphasized a trust in the empirical scientific method, and a distrust and lack of faith in ideologies and religious beliefs that could not be tested using scientific methods; postmodernism emphasizes that a particular reality is a social construction by a particular group, community, or class of persons. See Chapter 1 in Anderson's "Reality Isn't What It Used To Be".
the movements, attitudes and inclinations in Philosophy, Literature, Art and Culture after the weakening of grand ideas of Modernity. Generally dated to start after the culmination of the World War II.
Style reflecting the exhaustion of modernist experimentation and a partial return to more traditional forms. (Late 20th c.)
A media-influenced aesthetic sensibility of the late 20th century characterized by open-endedness and collage. Postmodernism questions the foundations of cultural and artistic forms through self-referential irony and the juxtaposition of elements from popular culture and electronic technology.
A general cultural development, especially in North America, which resulted from the general collapse in confidence of the universal rational principles of the Enlightenment.
a societal shift in attitude beginning in the mid to late 20th century away from the "Enlightenment" reliance on human reason and scientific proof and acceptance of objective truth to a belief that truth is relative and determined by the community to which one belongs and by that community's experience and feelings.
Postmodernism is an idea that has been extremely controversial and difficult to define among scholars, intellectuals, and historians, because the term implies to many that the modern historical period has passed. Nevertheless, most agree that postmodern ideas have influenced philosophy, art, critical theory, literature, architecture, design, marketing/business, interpretation of history, and culture since the late 20th century.