Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Time for a New "Ism"? the Death of a Great Thinker Also Marks the End of a Movement, Says Alan Kirby

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Time for a New "Ism"? the Death of a Great Thinker Also Marks the End of a Movement, Says Alan Kirby

Article excerpt

With the passing of Jean Baudrillard, should we be asking if postmodernism has gone the same way? The argument that postmodernism is over has already been made by academics, yet it is a grave mistake to restrict the debate to the practices and suppositions of philosophers and critics. Many academics will simply decide that, finally, they would rather stay with Baudrillard than go over to anything new. Again, there have been writers (such as the New Puritans, if you remember them) and artists (such as the Stuckists) who have declared the end of postmodernism, but it won't be replaced by some manifesto signed at a cafe by bullish young aesthetes. And yet, a compelling case can be made that postmodernism is dead, just by looking at the cultural production of our times.

I have in front of me a module description, downloaded from the website of a British university's English department. It includes details of assignments and a week-by-week reading list for the optional module Postmodern Fictions. Most of this year's undergraduates will have been born in 1985 or after, and all but one of the primary texts for the module were written before their lifetime. Far from being "contemporary", these works were published in another world: The French Lieutenant's Woman, Nights at the Circus, If On a Winter's Night a Traveller, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (and Blade Runner), White Noise. This is Mum and Dad's culture. It's all about as "contemporary" as the Smiths, as hip as shoulder pads, as happening as a Betamax VCR. …

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