What was Postmodernism?

John Farrell, Associate Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College
Wednesday, November 8th, 4:15 PM

Join us in this upcoming Claremont Discourse in the Founders Room of the Honnold/Mudd Library:

In the 1980s, the term "postmodernism" was adopted by literary critics to designate what the reigning generation of artists and theorists, figures like Pynchon, Cage, Warhol, and Barthes, had in common. Postmodernists shared an interest in presenting words, sounds, or images for their own sake. They questioned the ability of art, or even language in general, to refer to anything beyond itself, adopting for themselves a fundamental detachment or post-metaphysical cool. Where modernism sought profundity, originality, and ontological grounding, postmodernism was an art of exhilarating superficiality, unmoored borrowing, and an enjoyable lightness of being. The arrival of postmodernism has often been treated as an epoch-making event in the history of Western culture. John Farrell, author of Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (published by Cornell University Press in 2005), finds these claims overblown. In his lecture, he will present some ambitious theories of what postmodernism meant and counter them with observations of his own.

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