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This chapter analyzes the relation between postmodernism and posthumanism. While postmodernism, as an aesthetic and philosophical practice, has lost some of its relevance in the academy, several of its underlying gestures, the primary being the interrogation of the humanist model of subjectivity, live on in various versions of posthumanism. The central concern here, first, will be to examine Derrida’s concept of the trace (in his essay “Differance”); the chapter then moves on to suggest that Derrida’s quintessentially postmodern reading of the subject— differentiated, displaced, and other to itself—finds new expression in various canonical versions of posthumanism (in Hayles, Haraway, and Braidotti). Ultimately, the chapter examines how Derrida’s model of the subject persists as a kind of haunting in posthumanist thought, how postmodernism operates as a prefiguring trace of posthumanism.
The book concludes by suggesting that if modernist representations of the city dovetail with current concerns among urban theorists, none of the writers under investigation dismisses the idea of development per se. Rather, their visions of the mundane aspects of civic life, technological modernisation, urban collectivity and public works offer an alternative to postmodern urbanism, insofar as the idea of development is reimagined on reparative and redistributive terms. Consequently, urban writing from beyond the imperial centre is seen to restore certain properly ‘modernist’ energies to the field.
This chapter examines Samuel Moyn and John Finnis’s heated exchange over Christian human rights. Their diverging methodologies and conclusions are rooted in different fundamental commitments, respectively, historicism and metaphysical realism. Furthermore, the debate implicitly acts out older, deeper tensions between anti-Catholic modernity and antimodern Catholicism. This longer trajectory reached a paradoxical climax after the Second Vatican Council when many Catholics turned toward the modern paradigm just as others were diagnosing its demise. Contemporary reflection on Christian human rights demonstrates how the sufficient reasons of history complicate predictable choices between secular and religious worldviews. One ongoing challenge, then, is to mediate such differences through mutual translation and dialogue.
Due to the introduction of the market economy, in the past four decades China has switched from being a “planned country” – planned economy, planned art – into a domestic version of cultural pluralism. Consumerism has refilled the vacuum left by the retreat of Maoist ideology. However, the overwhelming success of mass culture is sided by the progressive marginalization of the intellectuals or elite, featuring a culture that is kitsch in its ideological twist. In China, present-day cultural constructions provide a forum of debate for the identity of the whole nation, no more traditional, and not yet modern. In other words, consumerism and commercialism, triggered by products of market economy, have generated a cultural consumption of redundant bad taste. Kitsch indeed.1
This chapter explores the relation between the novel form and the emergence of postmodernism, postcolonialism, postfeminism and posthumanism in the second half of the twentieth century. It begins with an analysis of the relation between the prosthetic and the simulacral, under postmodern conditions, and with the technological revolution associated with the advent of computing. The novel, it suggests, from Orwell to Brooke-Rose, is involved in a difficult relationship with postmodernism, one which gives expression to its possibilities, while also seeking to resist its erosion of the materiality of our cultures and environments. It traces a strand of experimental realism in the postwar novel that is at odds with the terms in which we have conceived of postmodern fiction. It then goes on to read two of the novelists who are associated with the postmodern novel – Thomas Pynchon and Toni Morrison – to suggest that one can detect a persistent opposition in their work between the simulacrum and the prosthetic, one which helps us see past some of the contradictions that are the result of our existing accounts of postmodern politics and aesthetics.
In this chapter, the universal theories developed by cultural researchers that can be applied across geographic regions are reviewed. The theories reviewed include early works of Parsons and Shils (pattern variables), Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (universal human value orientations), and Hall (values associated with time and space). Following this the constructs of tightness and looseness by Pelto, and later Gelfand, a framework for traditional and modern values by Inkles, and later postmodern values by Inglehart, and instrumental and terminal values by Rokeach are discussed. Next, the cultural dimensions presented by Hofstede, individualism and collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity versus femininity, which were supplemented by Bond and colleagues’ work (long-term orientation) and Minkov’s work (indulgence versus restraint) are reviewed. House and colleagues’ GLOBE Project and its contributions to Hofstede’s framework is noted. Schwartz and colleagues work on a universal framework of values, cultural complexity, social exchange patterns identified by Fiske, and Social axioms presented by Leung and Bond are also briefly reviewed. The chapter is concluded with a discussion of the implications of cultural theories for intercultural training.
Hannah earned extravagant praise from both fellow writers and critics, who were collectively bedazzled by his prolific and profound universe and his inimitable prose - at once brilliant and bizarre, gorgeous and grotesque. Even Hannah’s greatest fans admit to occasional “disgust” - he never shied away from violence, and its recipients were often women or racial others. It is into this desperate, violent world that Hannah compulsively deposits his Indians as not just inept but decidedly corrupt guides to a redemption that will not come. A pioneer of so-called “Grit Lit,” Hannah’s work rejects romanticism and nostalgia - conceits that typify and bedevil Indigenous and southern cultures simultaneously. There, the Indigenous motif poses not just as guide but at times as lingering fetish, drawing its subjects toward a narrative of fulfillment, albeit one based on hurt and horror rather than transcendence. For his primarily white southern male characters, the lessons of Indigenous conquest become a contemporary parable for the self-defeating desires, vacancies, betrayals, and violence of both southern history and modernity’s insidious bequests.
This introduction explores a range of theoretical approaches to reading the relationship between literature and credit. It suggests an alternative to the postmodern reading of the ending of the gold standard. It offers a new reading of E. L. Doctorow’s classic postmodern novel Ragtime, one that depends upon neither pastiche nor parody but a return to the varied times of the credit economy.
Marie-Thérèse Claes’s chapter examines the impact of positivist theories in intercultural management and proposes three further positions that hold a scientific view of culture, making a distinction between emic and etic approaches. In particular, this chapter suggests a move from positivist to interpretive, postmodern and critical approaches, all of which are illustrated with examples.
Chapter 7 introduces a new topic, dealt with in three chapters: Ovid as author of erotic literature. Love and seduction, love and death are the two overarching themes. Chapter 7 is on one of Ovid’s most famous tale: the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. An overview of its pervasive presence on screen introduces the chapter, which then examines two postmodern variations in greater detail. Both are modernizations. Helmut Dietl’s film Vom Suchen und Finden der Liebe (its English-release title is rather clumsy: “About the Looking for and the Finding of Love”) is a witty but also bittersweet and partly supernatural retelling of a couple’s doomed love. In a striking role reversal the man dies, and the woman attempts to get him back from the Underworld. By contrast, American writer-director Paul Auster’s The Inner Life of Martin Frost presents a complex narrative with various twists and an indeterminate, if haunting, ending. If, in Dietl’s film, love may (or may not) conquer all, does it even exist in Auster’s?
Taking its cue from Raymond Federman’s programmatically titled essay “The Last Stand of Literature,” the chapter briefly reviews the critical debate about the increasing convergence of literary and television culture. Rather than seeing the influx of TV aesthetics into American literature as causing a demise of literary culture, the chapter argues that the texts by Coover, Wallace, and DeLillo imaginatively reframe TV culture and turn the reflection on visual media into a source of literary innovation. They acknowledge TV as a central force in postmodern culture, rework televisual immediacy effects, and describe TV images and their reception, but they do so in self-reflexive narratives that probe the contributions literature can make to a culture shaped by TV and the commodification of art and experience.
Discussing works by Robert Coover and David Foster Wallace, this chapter argues that the critical remediation of TV’s aesthetics of immediacy provided an innovative impetus for the experimental postmodernist fiction of the 1960s and 70s and the literary fiction of the 1980s and 90s. Among the first generation of writers to address TV, Coover parodies in his short story “The Babysitter” how TV conflates the fictive and the real by eroding the boundaries between on- and off-screen worlds. The story plays with narrative levels to debunk TV’s logic of spectacle and consumption. Twenty years later, Wallace likewise explores how TV alters our sense of the real. Yet he distances himself from the ironical stance he finds characteristic of both his postmodernist precursors and of TV. In his essay “E Unibus Pluram” and short stories like “Little Expressionless Animals,” he advocates a return to a self-reflexive poetics of sincerity. Although their poetics and historical moment differ, both Coover and Wallace rework televisual immediacy effects to challenge TV’s promise of direct participation and connection and to expand the representational reach and cultural pertinence of literature.
Cormac McCarthy’s aesthetic choices make him as anachronistic and difficult to place as are many of his characters. While he shares some of the thematic preoccupations of modernism and postmodernism, he lacks most of the aesthetic markers of those movements. Given his varied style, it might be more promising to think of his work as hovering aesthetically between the naturalistic and the phantasmagoric in the manner of Hawthorne’s and Melville’s romance tradition. His aesthetic borrowings from the medium of film similarly seem to place his work in a grey area between objectivity and subjectivity. While McCarthy’s own consistent associations of aesthetic value with pain and loss contrast sharply with the disinterested conception of beauty propounded by Kant, his work seems much more attuned to Kant’s other source of aesthetic value, the sublime. But McCarthy’s version of the sublime is thoroughly naturalized and historicized, embracing human fragility and contingency. This aspect of McCarthy’s aesthetic, linked as it is to the cultural attitudes born of the nineteenth-century encounter between late Romanticism and naturalism, might help account for many readers’ sense that McCarthy’s work belongs to another time.
The introduction begins by highlighting the novelist Tao Lin's attempt to sell shares in an unwritten novel - an especially striking manifestation of the market logics examined throughout the book. The introduction then maps the historical and conceptual ground of the project. Successive sections trace how the interlocking developments of neoliberalism and financialization since the 1970s have extended what Pierre Bourdieu calls a “pure market logic” to ever-widening domains of social life; how Fredric Jameson’s paradigm-defining theorizations of the contemporary nonetheless go too far in positing postmodernist culture as a straightforward expression of this logic; how the power of market forces in the present elicits a condition of ambivalence among contemporary writers that is neither simply critical nor “postcritical,” but combines the intense affective states of both positions; and, finally, how the publishing industry and book retail business have undergone their own neoliberal and financial revolutions over recent decades, with profound consequences for novelistic practice. The remaining section of the introduction summarizes the arguments of the book’s chapters and Coda.
Ian McEwan’s post-realism is part of a marked aesthetic shift that began in the last decades of the twentieth century and continues into the twenty-first. His novels, with their attention to close description and dependence on context as well as a qualified sense that language can capture inner and outer worlds, are part of a turn to the kinds of realism characteristic of the long nineteenth century. The essay argues the turn is transformative rather than nostalgic because, like so many of his contemporaries, McEwan responds to contemporary socio-political crises by means of postmodern strategies that include parody, irony, hybridity and metafiction. Three mid-career novels that loosely share the geopolitical context of World War II and the Cold War illustrate the argument: The Innocent, Black Dogs and Atonement. Postmodern technique and novelistic realism together provide a vehicle for McEwan’s long-standing exploration of human violence across both public and private spheres.
While it provides support not only for prison abolitionism but also for anarchism, the liberal and cosmopolitan version of natural law theory this book defends need not deny that people will sometimes in fact opt to welcome ties with each other rooted in history and heritage. And of course it can offer insights not only in relation to an envisioned stateless society but also in the context of contemporary statist politics. But liberalism and natural law theory rightly prompt skepticism regarding affirmations of national identity. Chapter 7 suggests that the putative liberal Richard Rorty’s attempt to articulate a liberal American patriotism provides a useful case study–and proves ultimately unsuccessful.
Mansur Bushnaf's al-ʿIlka (Chewing Gum; 2008) is the author's sole novel, born of his twelve-year imprisonment in a Libyan jail, and his reflection on the nation's subjection to international marginalization and dictatorial rule under Gaddafi. The novel is centered on a 19th-century nude which confounds all who encounter it, and which lies neglected in a corner of Tripoli's Red Palace Museum. Through this statue, and the novel's broader poetics of stasis and “chewing,” I explore how turāth in Bushnaf's work, and wider Libyan fiction, is depicted through its abject vulnerability and exposure to historical vicissitudes, reflecting the parallel exclusion of human lives from rights and agency. In al-ʿIlka, I examine how this is formulated into a defamiliarizing perspective on the postmodern, and on historical trauma and erasure, in which the possibility of narrative is a driving concern, rooted in existential reflection, as well as the real precarity of those who tell stories in Libya.
“Activating Whiteness: Racializing the Ordinary in US American Postmodern Dance” explores how the choreographic turn to postmodernism twisted the trope of racial exclusion from a focus on trained bodies to a focus on ordinary bodies. Analyses of Yvonne Rainer's Trio A (1966) and Trisha Brown's Locus (1975) demonstrate how ordinary bodies shape racially exclusive spaces and activate the biopolitical mechanisms of normalization that their choreography allegedly contests. This essay argues that the spaces activated by the bodies that shaped them carry the physical trace of the performers’ race through the enduring invisibility of whiteness.
In recent years, discussion has raged within theologies inspired by Continental philosophy of religion regarding the supposed “overcoming” of ontotheology. In this article, I will consider the theological methodology of Louis-Marie Chauvet, a sacramental theologian whose work has been highly influenced by these discussions. For Chauvet, it is the liturgy that provides human beings with the necessary means, not for overcoming ontotheology, but for learning to live with it in a healthy way. Through the liturgy, we learn to work through ontotheology, and thus to hear the call of Being to appropriation and thankful response. This is, however, quite a bit to ask of our liturgies, and I suggest that the only way that Chauvet's method can function is if it is placed in a framework of dialogue. I adopt this framework from Chauvet and expand upon it, which results in an innovative relecture of Chauvet's theology.
The parallel between Augustine's preoccupation with language and the ‘linguistic turn’ of the last century has made him a valuable figure in recent discussions on hermeneutics and meaning. Still, he has yet to be brought into serious conversation with contemporary narrative hermeneutics. In this essay, I contend that narrative hermeneutics provides a lens through which we can appreciate the important role narrative plays in Augustine's hermeneutics and, in particular, how it shapes his account of meaning. Rather than casting his perception of meaning as a static reality that lies completely beyond the text, recognising the place of narrative in his thought allows us to appreciate the dynamic and personal aspects of meaning which it produces.