Critical Essays On American Postmodernism

Critical Essays On American Postmodernism-58
What starts in Los Angeles, however, finds its way to Vancouver, Toronto, and to all the cities of the industrialized world.

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The four essays in Part II discuss cultural theory and media practices without specific reference to postmodernism.

Linda Williams, in "A Jury of their Peers: Marlene Gorris' ," analyzes a Dutch feminist feature film in terms of its presentation of the world of women, so long hidden from men's personal and mediated experiences by their own arrogance and dominance of cultural forms.

The theoreticians include Kristeva, Foucault, Baudrillard, Bakhtin, Derrida, Habermas, and others whose names have become as common in communication journals as the gospel writers on Sunday morning television.

Fredric Jameson's 1983 "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" leads off the collection "for obvious reasons," as Kaplan says, since it "has to a large degree shaped the terms of the debates about postmodernism in America." Jameson explains the term as a "periodizing" concept correlating cultural developments with the social and economic order of "late capitalism." He does this in straightforward prose referring to the work of poets, painters, and filmmakers, rather than in convoluted prose referring primarily to writings of other theorists, and explores at length the alienating and socially divisive architecture of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

In a long essay, "Mikhail Bakhtin and Left Cultural Critique," Robert Stam reviews and discusses Bakhtin's theories in terms of their utility to leftist critics.

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In some sections of the essay, he offers numerous examples of Bakhtin's terms in practice.

This is not an easy book to read, primarily because of the prose style the writers choose to employ, but the essays are all provocative.

Several present quite valuable insights and, if one wishes to engage contemporary cultural issues, this volume gives one an excellent opportunity to do it.

The ensuing ambiguities are still greater, as some critics use the term postmodernism in artistic/literary reference (Hassan, Graff), whereas others (Bell) extrapolate it onto a wider field of sociocultural analysis.

It seems that the distinction between postmodernity, understood as the social and cultural situation of existence and experience, and structure of feeling characteristic of late capitalist life (5), and postmodernism, understood as the range of philosophical, literary, artistic and other discursive manifestations of and/or responses to postmodernity (6), could go some way to clarify this confusion.

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