The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism

The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism

The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism

The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism

Synopsis

Following full-length articles on postmodernism and philosophy, politics, feminism, lifesyles, television, and other postmodern essentials, readers will find a wide range of alphabetically-organized entries on the people, terms and theories connected with postmodernism, including: Peter Ackroyd; Jean Baudrillard; Chaos Theory; Death of the Author; Desire; Fractals; Michel Foucault; Frankfurt School; Generation X; Minimalism; Poststructuralism; Retro; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; and Trans-avant-garde.

Excerpt

It is a cliché by now to say that we live in a postmodern world, and indeed 'postmodern' has become one of the most used, and abused, words in the language. Who has not heard the phrase 'that's postmodern' applied to some occurrence in everyday life? And doubtless replied with a knowing look, smile or laugh. Yet it is striking that few people can say with any sense of assurance what that term 'postmodern' actually means or involves. Some theorists have suggested that it is as much a mood or attitude of mind as anything else, but one nevertheless wants to know what constitutes that mood or attitude. That is what The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism is designed to answer.

In a general sense, postmodernism is to be regarded as a rejection of many, if not most, of the cultural certainties on which life in the West has been structured over the last couple of centuries. It has called into question our commitment to cultural 'progress' (that economies must continue to grow, the quality of life to keep improving indefinitely, etc.), as well as the political systems that have underpinned this belief. Postmodernists often refer to the 'Enlightenment project', meaning the liberal humanist ideology that has come to dominate Western culture since the eighteenth century; an ideology that has striven to bring about the emancipation of mankind from economic want and political oppression. In the view of postmodernists this project, laudable though it may have been at one time, has in its turn come to oppress humankind, and to force it into certain set ways of thought and action. It is therefore to be resisted, and postmodernists are invariably critical of universalizing theories ('grand narratives' or 'metanarratives' as they have been dubbed by the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard), as well as being anti-authoritarian in their outlook. To move from the modern to the postmodern is to embrace scepticism about what our culture stands for and strives for: The Routledge Companion will establish just what it is that motivates that scepticism.

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