Shaping Postmodernism (Panel)

American/Diaspora / Comparative Literature

Seunghyun Shin (University of Vermont)

How can we define "postmodernism"? How does the term different from 'modernism' which innovated what the precursors had done through the 19th century?

To define the contextual term, critics and scholars have been distinguishing it in different ways. Fredric Jameson's remarks defining postmodernism during his lecture at the Whitney Museum in 1982 has been one of the initial theoretical treatments of postmodernism as an intellectual trend and a socio-economic phenomenon as well as a historical period. In "Postmodernism and Consumer Society," Fredric Jameson declares two qualities of postmodernism to be antithetical to modernism: (i) postmodernism reacts against the structural "high modernism" that conquered higher education, art, and philosophy; and (ii) eliminates what distinguished "high culture" and "mass or popular culture." Jameson clarifies that the generation from the 1960s has to "destroy" the dominant abstract styles of "high modernism," which conquered the academics and popular culture.

If we accept the theoretical treatment of Jameson, how has the so-called "postmodernism" been antithetical to modernist literature? How have writers, artists, and philosophers been postmodernist? How have critics and scholars responded? If it is not an antithesis to modernism, how could it be separated from modernism to be called post-modernism? Or is it just another phase of modernism? Drawing on a range of perspectives across disciplines in literature, philosophy, and art, this panel aims at discussing literature and theories that respond to the vagueness and relativism of postmodernism in contemporary world.
How can we define "postmodernism"?