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Modernism vs Postmoderism

Modernism vs Postmodernism

With the resistance to traditional forms of knowledge making (science, religion, language), inquiry, communication, and building meaning take on different forms to the post-structuralist. We can look at this difference as a split between Modernism and Postmodernism. The table below, excerpted from theorist Ihab Hassan's The Dismemberment of Orpheus (1998), offers us a way to make sense of some differences between Modernism, dominated by Enlightenment ideas, and Postmodernism, a space of freeplay and discourse.

Keep in mind that even the author, Hassan, " quick to point out how the dichotomies are themselves insecure, equivocal" (Harvey 42). Though post-structuralism is uncomfortable with binaries, Hassan provides us with some interesting contrasts to consider:

Modernism vs Postmodernism
Modernism Postmodernism
romanticism/symbolism paraphysics/Dadaism
form (conjunctive, closed) antiform (disjunctive, open)
purpose play
design chance
hierarchy anarchy
mastery/logos exhaustion/silence
art object/finished work/logos process/performance/antithesis
centering absence
genre/boundary text/intertext
semantics rhetoric
metaphor metonymy
root/depth rhizome/surface
signified signifier
narrative/grande histoire anti-narrative/petite histoire
genital/phallic polymorphous/androgynous
paranoia schizophrenia
origin/cause difference-difference/trace
God the Father The Holy Ghost
determinacy interdeterminacy
transcendence immanence



Just for fun


What is Postmodernism?

Yale Lecture on Postmodernism

In this lecture on the postmodern psyche, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari. and Slavoj Žižek. The notion of the "postmodern" is defined through the use of examples in the visual arts and architecture. Deleuze and Guattari's theory of "rhizomatic" thinking and their intellectual debts are elucidated. Žižek's film criticism, focused on the relation between desire and need, is explored in connection with Lacan.

  • 00:00 - Chapter 1. Žižek, Deleuze, and the Political
  • 08:37 - Chapter 2. What Is Postmodernism?
  • 16:22 - Chapter 3. Postmodernism, Doubt, and Vision
  • 22:52 - Chapter 4. Dehumanization
  • 28:31 - Chapter 5. Deleuze, Guattari, and Lacan
  • 35:16 - Chapter 6. The Rhizome
  • 39:25 - Chapter 7. Žižek
  • 46:53 - Chapter 8. Holbein's The Ambassadors
  • 50:08 - Chapter 9. Language and Desire