“Postmodern” (and related terms like postmodernism and postmodernity) entered into the lexicon around the 1970s and 1980s, originally in discussions of architecture. Soon enough, it became a catch-all for various cultural developments, in particular an ironic, playful style in art and literature and a skepticism about objective truth in the academic realm. Postmodernism became a subject of controversy again during the Trump era with a widespread panic about the president’s “post-truth” sensibility and bizarre fusion of politics with reality TV spectacle.
In this seminar, we will revisit key excerpts from two central accounts of the postmodern era – Frederic Jameson’s Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism and Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition – and investigate to what extent they capture our current cultural and political climate, and to what extent they need to be modified, updated, or even rejected. Brief lectures will provide necessary background, but most of our time will be spent discussing these texts in depth.