Most historians indeed the majority of humanity continue to reject any conception that they live in a postmodern condition of 'disillusionment' with science, material progress and rationality and ambiguity of language. Most of us simply do not inhabit a present that is enveloped in a postmodern fog of meanings, moral nihilism, surreal rootlessness, accidental contingent and surprising events, cultures of images and emotional life dominated by pastiche, play and vicarious emulation.
As students of Burke, Popper, Hexter and Oakeshott will know, Lyotard's often cited and pithy definition of postmodernism as an 'incredulity towards meta narratives', i. By the same token historians will also find the favourite postmodern meta historical narrative of an 'Enlightenment Project' for the application of science and reason to human improvement that emerged sometime between the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution that then foundered and failed in the wars and social revolutions of the first half of the twentieth century to be an equally banal, simplification of the multiplicity of projects included as part of an evolving programme for human improvement.
Historians will also observe the turmoils and abberations of some three decades of tragic history from provide no clear warrant for embracing a stance of postmodern relavitism toward science, language, economic progress, or indeed towards any of these other 'Western Shibboleths', such as democratic government, competitive capitalism, linear time, individual responsibility and above all towards any possibility of constructing plausible and acceptable conjectures about history In short, however, they perceive and whatever they feel about late capitalism, the decline of the West, the speed of contemporary change, the inclusion of the 'other', the indeterminacy of meanings, modern art, new information technology and the decentred, fragmented and complex nature of modern European and American cultures, most historians are unlikely to suffer from existential angst, epistemological cramp and any sense of 'rupture with modernism' that might persuade them to adopt the range of postmodern positions towards the way that they go about constructing reliable historical knowledge.
Conceptual Postmodernism and Postmodernist Theory
Although they will and do take advice from Hayden White and literary critics to be more reflexive about the construction of narratives, will historians be impressed even with the eloquent plea from Keith Jenkins that to read and write history in anything but a postmodern way in this our postmodern world is outmoded?
And this condition has arguably been caused by the general failure In Jenkins's view reappraisal of what has gone wrong 'has led to a In short, because there is no objective present claims by historians to provide access to any kind of real past are equally untenable. Apparently history has become just another 'foundationless expression in a postmodern world of foundationless expressions' Even though it is all meaningless and little better than fiction, postmodernists treat history with flattering attention because the accumulation of historical knowledge was 'part of the experiment of the modern', when historians explicitly as philosophers or implicitly as craftsmen wrote narratives with 'trajectories' which nobody 'believes' in any more.
Furthermore, the collapse of meta history which few modern historians ever wrote or even subscribed to anyway has in all kinds of ways problematised their modestly expressed claims as craftsmen to produce: more or less tenable, provisional, conjectural, probabilistic, qualified, peer reviewed, discipline monitored, endlessly revised interpretations in the form of fragmented, disaggregated stories about the past. Qualified historians including our younger colleagues with more limited experience of professional life will not recognise the caricatured postmodern 'representations' of them and their day-to-day working practices and above all the careful claims that they make for the flows of guides, handbooks, bibliographies, databases, chronicles, edited documents, tapes, videos, articles, essays, papers and books that makes up the ever expanding flow of historical knowledge, available in increasingly accessible forms to everyone who wishes to read something about history.
Yes, there are publishers blurbs, dust jackets, advertising copy, unguarded moments in conversation and excitement in seminars where and when historians 'inflate' the status of the knowledge they lovingly and laboriously produce. Nevertheless, their postmodernist critics, who wish to engage in some kind of serious academic interchange, really must cite a series of exemplary quotations, articles and writings by modern historians that might persuade the profession that most of their colleagues are committed to beliefs that: their methods and procedures provide their readers with 'direct access to the past'; to 'the truth about history'; to a definitive once and for all interpretation about events, movements, personalities, artefacts and other things that are now historical; to a 'correspondence theory of reality' and to the notion that properly footnoted historical statements are analogous to proofs in the natural sciences As working historians and in contrast to philosophers and cultural theorists Munslow and Jenkins have searched for modern historians who might approximate to the scholars of postmodern caricature.
They have discovered some straw for the construction of straw men among the historiographical reflexions of the late Geoffrey Elton, who was not fond of qualifying clauses or given to pretentious modesty about his status as a master craftsman Nobody and nothing much else seems to have emerged to fit the postmodern picture.
- UMA VIDA QUE PODERIA SER A SUA (Portuguese Edition)!
- The Little Frankie Stories;
- BELIEVE - AND BE SAVED!.
- The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation.
- Bibliographic Information.
- The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus: A Novel.
With commendable but undermining honesty, Jenkins quoted Carr's familiar definition of history as a 'continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past' He might have added Peter Geyl's definition of History 'as an argument without end'.
Southgate trawled deeper and further back and came up with a selection of passages going back to Josephus and Lucian writing in the first and second centuries A. Southgate surveys a long line of historians who recommended and believed they could construct definitive depictions and interpretations of the past. Significantly that venerable historiographical tradition appears to come to an end with the Great Victorians, including Ranke, Gardiner, Acton and Bury. Southgate also retraces scepticism concerning the status of sensory perceptions and our grasp of external or past realities back to pre-Socratic philosophers.
What is history? article: An Engagement with Postmodern Foes
He again found eloquent expression in Bolingbroke's advice to approach historical evidence with 'impartiality, freedom of judgement and suspicion, for pieces of evidence whether oral or written deserve to be suspected'. At the same time c.
Down the centuries a minority of historians and a few in our own times have continued to represent their discipline as a science but how many have been prepared to push that much discussed analogy further than to say that their procedures and working practices for the construction of reliable knowledge about the past could be understood within the context of a Baconian paradigm for scientific enquiry. Both paradigms are observed to be dominated by the discovery, collection, clarification and inductive interpretation of facts. Bolingbroke's contemporary, David Hume placed a cat among the pigeons when he demonstrated, however, that such inductive procedures could never guarantee the truth, safety, stability or permanency of any generalisation based upon observations however voluminous, extensive and carefully validated.
Yet Hume's logical strictures against scientific laws, truths and generalisations that could be applied to explain the behaviour of natural phenomena across space and time has never really interested historians who deal with human behaviour in circumscribed contexts. Very few have ever claimed that they were engaged in discovering laws of history On the whole historians who generally support inductive procedures and cling to notions of hard facts have been far more modest and tentative about their discoveries and interpretations of the human past than at least until recently scientists have been about their understanding of nature That is why we are not phased but rather comforted by postmodern references to Hume and to Popper's demonstrations that inductive statements, explanations and predictions by natural scientists are logically provisional and only stand pending the discovery of a single counter example.
Historians are also not surprised to read postmodern accounts of the process of scientific discovery based upon the writings of Kuhn, Lakatos, Popper, Feyerbend and others that like history scientific knowledge is in some but essentially trivial respects socially and culturally constructed By the late twentieth century nature looks somewhat less orderly and scientific propositions are being repositioned towards Newton's own original claim that they were simply 'very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur by which they may either be made more accurate or liable to exceptions' Postmodernists have singularly, even comically, failed in their attempts to deconstruct the epistemological foundations of the natural sciences To their dismay, hard objective, positivistic knowledge about the natural world and applied technology continues to accumulate and to diffuse rapidly around the world.
Everyone wants it and wants it now. Historians, sociologists and philosophers and popularisers of natural sciences have certainly made its procedures for discovery more intelligible and exposed the political, social and cultural elements behind its construction. Nevertheless, the claims of science to be 'very nearly true and definitive enough for the time being' lends sufficient support to an ongoing 'modernist project' in which historians by adapting the clearly successful procedures and methods of science, can continue to produce their own more probabilistic and provisional knowledge about the past.
Scientific procedures rest upon several positivistic assumptions that historians share; for example, there are no a priori truths, no unassailable facts, no privileged sources and, above all, no final interpretations For most of this century, few historians ever claimed to be doing much more than following with the help of material at their disposal such scientific procedures and assumptions.
Few ever represented themselves as natural scientists in search of certainties, truths and historical laws.
As I read them, postmodern critics of history turn out to be recirculating little more than an ancient but extreme form of scepticism, coupled with an irrational refusal to distinguish more from less reliable forms of history. Meanwhile, they are welcome to deliver almost banal warnings to our undergraduates that their professors are human, incompetent, biased, fallible and subjective.
They may as well repeat the obvious, that a 'Total Past' is not accessible because all that historical research could ever recover consists of traces, remains or fragments of times gone by. Historians do appreciate that for most periods themes and problems, however, well specified and micro, the record remains incomplete but the expectation that more evidence might turn up is a hope that springs eternal in their hearts.
Who was it but another eminent Victorian, Bishop Stubbs, who opined, 'history knows it can wait for more evidence and review its older verdicts; it offers an endless series of courts of appeal and is ever ready to open closed doors'. Meanwhile, the volume of recovered and accessible information about times past rises exponentially and threatens to engulf our capacities for synthesis.
A very high proportion of the total value of the resources allocated by modern societies to history considered here as an industry is devoted to the preservation, cataloguing and diffusion of records, artefacts and other remains, of an increasingly diverse kind which are variously depicted as the pools of knowledge, bases of data or repositories of information from which more or less complete and reliable histories have and might be written.
Archivists, librarians, editors, chroniclers, collectors and manifold others engaged in the accumulation, validation and diffusion of such stocks of hard knowledge about the past might well accept suggestions that selections of what to preserve are somehow culturally constructed. Yet they would also insist that the process is more haphazard than constructed and that their 'agenda' is to respond to public demand and to become as inclusive and catholic in their collection of information as governmental and private funding will allow.
This key sector of the workforce engaged in the production of historical knowledge will certainly not accept the impertinent postmodern suggestion that their efforts to make accessible a diverse range of sources and remains from the past is driven by any kind of articulated theory or ideology. Understandably, they will not welcome suggestions that the skills and care that they put into the recovery, preservation and presentation of records and research have latterly been severely diminished in status by a widely accepted epistemological shift that has problematised 'facts' and transformed documents into 'texts' of almost unconstrained ambiguity.
Furthermore, they and indeed all historians who stand accused in postmodern rhetoric of 'fetishizing sources', 'sanctifying archives' and clinging desperately to an untenable epistemology of empirical realms, have throughout their careers taken it as read: that the significance of facts is not given by or embodied within the facts; that sources need to be contextualised; that the languages and vocabularies of documents require careful translation and critical decoding; that correspondence between historical sources and a real or lived past is tenuous and established with difficulty.
Historians will wonder when and if they read postmodern depictions of their craft practices, whether their critics have looked at any of the handbooks or attended any of these mandatory courses on 'sources and methods' advertised for graduate students in history. Are they acquainted with the traditions of philology and textual criticisim, with training offered in palaeography and diplomatic, with the care devoted to teaching research students how to cope with dead, foreign and with the evolution of living languages? Have they listened to the conversations of historians about changes in meanings of words through time and to their long alas sometimes tedious disquisitions in seminars about the difficulties of decoding sources.
Modern, professional historians have been engaged in deconstructing texts, contesting each others readings and interpretations of sources for as long as most can remember. Reminders about the fragility of the base upon which reliable but provisional histories are written can be salutary. Historians can also learn how to become more efficient at establishing more secure foundations for their interpretations of documents and artefacts from literary criticism, cultural theory, philosophy and linguistics.
Let us continue to trade even with linguistics and philosophy. Although there does not seem to be much point prolonging the conversation with Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard and their followers who insist that there can be no knowledge or stable reality about the past because the past is constructed from documents texts written in words which possess no regular or determinate meanings or 'correspondence' to the things to which they purport to refer.
In this version of the 'linguistic turn', words derive their meaning from their connexions to other words and to grammars, rules and conventions embodied in linguistic systems. Given the plurality of recognised national languages and local dialects, add to that a conception of society or culture as including a series of disconnected social formations operating in their own spaces and spheres of meaning, with languages peculiar to themselves, then the familiar postmodern anguish and apprehension of the present and ergo about the past as 'difference', diversity and incomprehensible 'complexity' transforms the linguistic turn into playful semiotics.
Historians might prefer to leave this conundrum in the philosophy of knowledge that has after all been around since Plato well alone and concentrate instead upon the more interesting and currently expanding concern with how and to what extent languages of particular historical discourses such as Chartism might have influenced political, economic, social and cultural activity.
This programme of research and writing, which challenged and is in the process of redefining the separation between reality and its representations in prose, poetry, ballads, pamphlets, newspapers, letters, tapes and other sources, has already produced a bibliography of interesting reinterpretations which have effectively reinserted a role for language i. Obviously that role has varied with the episodes, themes and problems that historians select for analysis. As usual, with any recent importation of a 'fashionable' concern into history, a 'jostle' of general positions has emerged which range all the way from historians who insist on the 'hegemony' of language in extremis that historical actions are both linguistically constructed and predetermined through to scholars who recognise a non-neutral but still subservient role for language, to others in some cases with intellectual capital to defend who deplore any 'descent' into discourse Most historians continue to resist the notion that language 'structures' both thought and action as linguistic imperialism Most will now agree that languages can become more than a neutral rendition of realities and experiences into words.
Nevertheless, they will wish to research in order to ascertain how, when and where language mattered. Their minds are open as to which 'bits' and kinds of history or present experience? Micro history and biography has made us sensitive to the words, perceptions and meanings that people alive in their own times brought to movements and changes that interest historians and their readers. Although the linguistic turn has not run full circle, most historians remain resolutely 'realistic' in believing that 'things' power, weapons, food, soils, minerals climates, technologies, artefacts, markets, money, etc.
Of course, everything owes something to its cultural construction and linguistic constitution but as recent debates over the holocaust have made clear, there may not be too many events or movements regarded as 'major' that historians can convincingly represent or adequately explain in these intangible, non-referential and ultimately metaphysical terms? Let us wait and see how the advance of a programme of research based upon fashionable assumptions about the cultural construction and linguistic constitution of 'meanings' might establish a case for supplanting hegemonic, contextualised styles of writing about the histories of political, social, economic and technological change.
Meanwhile, their 'place' in newer and possibly epiphenomenal styles or genres say, the histories of art, fashion, style, leisure, taste, symbols and emotion look more secure and illuminating. Whatever it is that is now developing in neighbouring 'discourse formations' such as philosophy, linguistics, cultural studies, literature, anthropology, art, architecture, journalism and advertising only a handful of historians display symptoms of postmodern anguish and only a few mavericks recommend full linguistic turns or semiotic spins.
Sympathies and intellects seem, however, to be far more engaged with a wide ranging critique concerned with the ways and forms that historians deploy to express, read and to represent the past in their books, essays, articles and reviews and lectures. Histories are written and as literary artefacts require deeper reflexion than they have traditionally been accorded in historiographical manuals and in the day-to-day practice of history. This particular 'turn' towards 'mediums and modes of representation' in history owes a lot to Hayden White whose seminal writings are lucidly and critically summarised in textbooks already cited by Keith Jenkins and Alan Munslow.
Recent meditations on the construction and writing of histories owe even more to the importation of vocabularies, distinctions and reflexive practices from modern literary theory and criticism which are normally grouped under the heading of textual analysis and are well surveyed in chapters in the Routledge textbooks by Martin Bunzl as 'The Construction of History' and by Bethan McCullagh as 'The Meaning of Texts'. Before I turn to literary theory and to its recommendations that include entirely sensible if hardly original suggestions for the modification of dominant historical practice, it seems necessary to confront and clear away some rather predictable but recognisable postmodern depictions of history as literature.
Literary theory is relevant because historians produce literary artefacts books, monographs, essays, articles, reviews and lectures, as well as tapes, videos and films. Literary critics refer to all these products as texts. As expressions or representations of history, they become eligible for textual analysis, which is primarily concerned with the forms, modes and grammars, linguistic devices and words used by authors of fiction to convey meanings and to express largely imagined realities to their readers and audiences.
Applied to history, the relevance of literary theory becomes a question of how and with what implications and effects for the status of their craft do historians 'represent' the past or rather selections from the past to their readers, listeners and viewers? The short and immediate answer is predominantly through narratives and secondarily in the shape of models or taxonomies that depend upon modern conceptual categories drawn from the social sciences.
Although the present generation of historians tolerate texts produced by 'tribes' within the profession who use models, taxonomies and concepts derived explicitly from the social sciences to reconstruct some aspects of the past, postmodernists reject the 'imposition' of all methods, currently prescribed by historians, to 'make sense' of the past.
They prefer to agree with Schiller that the past is a 'spectacle of confusion, uncertainty and moral anarchy' and with Schopenhauer that 'every attempt to give form to the world Postmodernists depict historians as engaged in a disciplined endeavour to 'appropriate' a past that is meaningless and shapeless. The history profession, acting in the name of truth, order and for the preservation of the status quo, uses the authority of an academic discipline to effectively crowd or shift out more personal, multiple and diverse stories that might be told about the past and which could well lead to a more emancipated future for mankind That is why 'History', according to Hayden White, 'is the refuge of the same men who excel in finding the simple in the complex, the familiar in the strange'.
His structure may be read as a compliment because most of us wish to persist with the 'noble dream' of trying to 'make sense' of the past. An incisive knowledge of these literary and critical-theoretical histories provides a vital platform if you are embarking on the postgraduate pathway in twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture.
During this module, you'll be able to develop your interests in two key literary periods and to question the usefulness of traditional periodisation. In each seminar we will compare texts from both periods on the basis of genre and theme, and examine the ways in which individual texts relate to, derive from, or influence other texts. A consideration of the figure of the poet will involve conflicting notions of engagement with contemporary society and the need for solitary reflection; the emergence of innovative poetic forms such as the dramatic monologue and a new kind of epic; literary representations of individual psychology and an increasing fascination with extreme mental states.
We will examine the impact of scientific discoveries and philosophical and religious discourses on literary culture. We will relate English literature to its global context, exploring conceptions of nationalism and democracy in relation to cosmopolitanism, the construction of Europe in the nineteenth century, philhellenism, Orientalism and imperialism. Drawing on a range of philosophy, literature, religious writing and political thought, we explore the ways in which Shakespeare stages some of the major concerns of his day within the context of intellectual innovations across Europe c Much of the most significant and powerful contemporary fiction in English is written by those who come, or whose families have come, from outside the metropolitan and erstwhile imperial centre.
This option divides its attention between the analysis of postcolonial fiction and postcolonial theory. This option focuses on the analysis of key novels published between and We will be reading the novels alongside both literary-critical constructions of postmodernism s and broader theoretical accounts of postmodernity. Other important essays will be made available as handouts.
In its survey of distinctively American styles, it will also consider notable works of 'confessional' poetry, the New York school, the position of women poets, the thematics of history, and critical definitions of Americanness in poetry. Schlegel, and Percy and Mary Shelley, were all obsessed with Shakespeare.
His plays, his poetry and his mind were persistent objects of discussion and speculation among these later writers, who also quoted his words, sometimes obviously, sometimes subtly, in their other writings. Yet this common preoccupation with Shakespeare often took the form of violent disagreement and competition. This module investigates, mainly within British literary culture, the nature and extent of the Romantic obsession with finding, keeping, improving, vandalising, copying and using Shakespeare, his meaning and his power.
Other issues that will be addressed along the way are the historical development of literary and dramatic criticism itself, the agency of women in literary culture, and literature as a tool in the education of children. This module considers the engagement of contemporary American fiction with a range of environmental crises, from climate change to pollution to ecological collapse. Generally speaking, the module asks what cognitive, interpretive and aesthetic resources are offered by the contemporary American novel in understanding such crises and catastrophes and in what ways has fiction evolved and adapted to capture this subject matter.
We consider the challenges of writing across histories and cultures in order to articulate a profoundly interconnected world and possibilities other than the nation. We examine how oral and literary texts, forms and genres within this body of writing through consolidation and experimentation, illustrate distinctive features of interculturality and syncretism. We investigate some of the determining forces underpinning the aesthetics of the texts.
We consider the emergent literature primarily as a body of relational texts communicating across and between cultures and diversities. This writing, sometimes defined by its transnational location, problematizes questions of nation, the political, identity, critical theories and literature itself.
We will discuss - amongst other things - various ideas on the ontological nature of the photograph, the idea of documentarism and its status as a mimetic form of representation as well as an art-form, the issue of propaganda, representations of America in terms of iconographies, ideologies - both left and right-wing - and the fascination with the vernacular during the Depression Era and through to the Cold War. The aim is to simultaneously link these broad ideas with in-depth analysis of particular photo-texts.
In what sense is love 'textual' as well as sexual? As well as focusing such issues through Freud, we will point to the various directions in post-Freudian psychoanalysis to which our chosen texts lead. For example, has postmodernism been superseded, and, if so, by what? Are new cultural literary forms needed in the attempt to map more recent globalising shifts in capitalism and their social and cultural formations?
Is the American fiction of the 21st century defined by other, more dramatic shifts that rupture the cultural and social fabric? These issues will be approached in a multi-disciplinary fashion, drawing on literary and cultural studies, politics, religious studies, trauma studies, film studies, history and ethnography. Particular attention will be paid to how cultural representation mediates relationships of power and ideology; and the role and effects of different styles, genres and modes of representation fiction, memoir, graphic novel, film, poetry etc in such mediations.
Students must be prepared to use internet sites like Amazon and AbeBooks to source out-of-print material, although every effort will be made to provide some stocks of each text in the library. Beginning with cultural-historical contexts and definitions of terms, we will study the closely-related movements of Romanticism, Aestheticism, Decadence, and Symbolism, and the decadent preoccupation with neuroses, obsessions, dreams, artifice, intense sensation, sensuality, perverse sexuality, parody and crime. We will study literary texts alongside expressions of visual Decadence in week 4 students will make an independent field trip to a gallery or museum , and these will include the work of painters, illustrators and poster artists, including James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon, Fernand Khnopff, Aubrey Beardsley, Alfred Kubin, among others.
Knowledge of French, though useful, is not a prerequisite for this module. Venice, Istanbul, Cairo, Algiers. The programme consists of lectures in the morning, and of two seminar strands in the afternoon, running for the two weeks of the Programme: one with as literary-historical dimension, tracing lines of influence and development of traditions and topoi, the other more closely focused on 20th- and 21st-century texts, their interrelations, and the presentation of modernist, colonial and postcolonial regional concerns. Flight and basic accommodation will be funded. As a student on the module, you will benefit from the expertise of a range of specialists, coming to the subject from different cultural perspectives and academic approaches.
Because of funding restrictions, attendance will be limited to a small number of students per participating institution. Elizabethan creative artists—whether writers, musicians, builders, dancers, painters, embroiderers, or workers in other media—were guided by an aesthetic based on the delights of ornament and pattern. Such principles are also pertinent to Elizabethan writing. This module is an effort to study a culture in a genuinely interdisciplinary fashion, considering the multiple literary forms in late sixteenth-century England in the context of other arts and crafts.
This module arises from recent scholarly efforts to expand the kinds of context available for study and to reinstate attention to the formal properties of texts, literary and otherwise. The importance of such patterning in relation to political organization will also be considered. The ends of empires, emergent nationalisms, wars, and their combined transformative impact on material and human spaces complicate perspectives on the multi-layered twentieth- and twenty-first-century city. This interdisciplinary module brings together literature, film, and urban studies to approach the poetics and politics of the representation of the post-imperial city.
The selected texts and films focus on Bombay Mumbai, Cairo, London and Istanbul to explore a complex cultural geography of the post-imperial world alongside and beyond the dichotomies of the metropolitan centre and the periphery and the historical paradigms of postcolonial theory. The aim is to critically engage with these texts and films as imaginative reconfigurations that supplement and contest the construction of these cities in histories and theories relating to postcolonialism, nationalism, globalisation, world-systems, migration, multiculturalism, and urbanism.
In a world increasingly dominated by globalisation and migration, the relationship between language and borders has become more complicated and, in many ways, more consequential than ever. It is a key feature of contemporary literature to respond to these processes, as writers embed questions of language in the very practice of their writing. Their linguistic and formal innovations register new multilingual realities, bring different cultural and linguistic forms into dialogue, challenge alignments of language and nation, and address the possibilities and limits of translation in a globalised world.
This module will allow students to explore the implications of these forces and processes for our understanding of literature from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Literary texts from a range of geographic, cultural and political contexts will be read alongside critical and theoretical debates at the intersection of several disciplinary perspectives: postcolonial studies, transnational studies, comparative literature, world literature and translation studies. It will offer a unique opportunity to work directly with a respected theatre director as well as Renaissance specialists in the Department.
It will focus on a key Shakespeare play and comparable works of his near contemporaries closely analyse and explore how the plays are read in the rehearsal room. Looking at scene by scene, students will analyse how the playwright's language creates character; how images and imagery can shape performance choices; how songs and silences determine the physical relationships on stage and how the stage space is shaped and inhabited by the language in action.
Therefore, alongside the performative elements of this module we will also focus on the representation of Jews in early modern England, developing critical awareness of how history is both created and denied in the theatre. The module will follow a structure of alternating weeks which focus on performance and text, respectively, to emphasise the historically revealing ways in which both Shakespeare's and Marlowe's play-worlds can be interpreted and performed.
The module requires students to read, listen and speak the play text in order to delve deep into the fascinating fabric of Shakespeare's world. Focusing on one of Shakespeare's most provocative and richly layered plays will give students of this module a rare insight into how ethical, aesthetic and intellectual decisions can be made in the rehearsal room. The module will be structured according to the development of key skills, which will be developed through an alternate focus on close reading and contextual and critical history.
The module with intersperse intensive and detailed exploration of Shakespeare's play in the rehearsal room with historically nuanced and critical readings of the place and representation of the Jew in early modern history and culture. We will read Marlowe's text alongside Shakespeare's text to heighten and develop our critical awareness of the performance of comedy, tragedy and the power of the 'alien' on stage. Yet as with modernism, alongside "often brutal inequities of power," these uses of postmodernism involve "global weblike formations, with many multidirectional links" Friedman, "Periodizing Modernism" Like modernism, therefore, postmodernism requires "a polycentric approach" that recognizes how each use of postmodernism "is constructed through engagement" with other uses of the term and in turn shapes those other uses Friedman, "Periodizing Modernism" At first glance, tracing the uses of the term postmodernism would seem only to reinforce a temporally and spatially hierarchical structure of origins in the United States in the s, followed by development in Western Europe in the late s and s, before the term is adopted in more peripheral regions of the world literary-system in the late s and s.
Indeed, the various Google Books n-grams of the term's use visualize waves of influence extending outwards from the Anglo-American center, with the peak in the crest rising and falling later in such semi-peripheries as Russia and China compare figs. Postmodernism, then, would seem to be the perfect example of a wave-like process of global literary influence and change, as proposed by Franco Moretti in relation to the worldwide spread of the novel. Figures 1—3 use Google Books Ngram corpuses to compare the changes between and in the word frequency of the term postmodernism in English fig.
Although the spread in the use of postmodernism is in part the history of a global form inflected by local circumstances, the developing uses of the term also involve multidirectional pathways of influence and counterinfluence and of cross-cultural encounter and exchange that are obscured by a model of innovation in cultural centers spreading out in waves to the peripheries of the cultural world-system.
As with Olson's and Jameson's appeals to China, other uses of postmodernism in the United States, New Zealand, Russia, and China tell a more complex story of contested cultural centers and transnational affiliations. The canonical history of postmodernism's use in US literary studies is well known.
In their groundbreaking articles, published in and respectively, Ihab Hassan and David Antin used the term postmodernism to describe some of the new kinds of literary and cultural production that had emerged in the s and s, with Antin singling out Olson's precursor role in the postmodern revival of radical modernism. Neither author, though, notes the independent Spanish-language usage of the term, which dates from the s; Anderson 4.
Though arguably never central to French poststructuralist thought, postmodernism became for a time "the main reading perspective for French theory in the United States" thanks to Lyotard's use of the term just at the point when French theory was gaining increasing attention within the US academy Cusset Lyotard's encounter with US literary theory then led to the transformation of the term in the United States from a synonym for the mid-century avant-garde practices of Olson, John Cage, and others, to shorthand for the new influx of French theory.
Rather than postmodernism's uses extending waves of influence outwards from a cultural center, the uses of postmodernism here involved exchange and contestation over cultural centrality. Already in , Perloff had begun to examine this history of the term's use in the context of US literary studies.
She argued that in the s and earlier going back to Olson's use of the term "postmodern" represents "everything that is radical, innovative, forward-looking" in literary and artistic practice "Postmodernism" According to Perloff, Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition marks the "shift…to the broader cultural definition of the term" "Postmodernism" Perloff traces a shift from the "utopian" use of the term in the s to a more dystopian use in the s and s "Postmodernism" This dystopian turn occurred largely through the influence of Jameson's essay then book Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism , which successfully harnessed and propelled the rise in the term's popularity in the late s and s.
Perloff herself uses the term postmodernism and the history of its application in US literary studies to wage her ongoing war for what she calls "literary criticism" and against "cultural critique. In other words, her account of postmodernism is a cautionary tale about artistic innovation swamped by French philosophy, Marxist cultural theory, and identity politics. By recovering an earlier use of postmodernism, Perloff seeks to oppose literature and literary criticism to theory and politics.
While acknowledging the importance of periodization she notes the significant differences between poetry in the s and the s , Perloff also wants to separate postmodernist cultural production from larger historical changes - just the kind of separation that Jameson's essay had sought to collapse. Perry Anderson's study a few years later expands on Perloff's account of the developing uses of the term. Anderson, of course, uses this history of postmodernism to quite different political ends, but he, too, turns to Olson to prise the term free from Jameson's dystopic analysis and writes with a similar awareness of the cross-cultural encounters that produced the term's diverse and even contrary history of uses.
Owing to this history, by the mids postmodernism was already available as a figure for radical artistic experimentation, for French theoretical sophistication, and for postindustrial capitalism and global neoliberalism. These uses would be subject to further remixing and remaking as the term was adopted and adapted elsewhere in the world. In mids New Zealand, Ian Wedde attempted to redraw the map of local poetry partly under the sign of postmodernism. Wedde was given the opportunity to edit a new Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse , the first major new edition since the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse , edited by Allen Curnow, which had served to establish a canon of New Zealand poetry that embodied Curnow's critical nationalist and modernist vision.
Wedde's introduction to the edition was a landmark document in New Zealand literary history. In the introduction, Wedde explicitly invokes "the linguistic republic of postmodernist words," connecting postmodernism to the "post" and "post-Baxter" in reference to the poet James K. Baxter opposition to the brand of modernism canonized in Curnow's anthology 24, Wedde's use of postmodernism reflects New Zealand's mids moment of "decolonization," marked by the election of the fourth Labour government and the anti-nuclear legislation passed by that government three years later Belich.
Wedde connected postmodernism to the effort to think about language in relation to location: "the historical process towards the sense of consummation in location that comes…with a poem like David Eggleton's 'Painting Mount Taranaki' is also a development towards a sense of culture that is internally familiar" This anthology included the work of Robert Creeley, who had visited New Zealand in , and Olson, whom Wedde cites in his introduction.
Referring to the "postmodern American poetry" of Olson and Edward Dorn, Wedde associates postmodernism with a turn to "the demotic" and process-oriented poetics of the mid-twentieth-century American avant-garde Wedde appealed to the same mid-century American avant-garde that Antin had presented under the label "postmodern" in the pages of boundary 2 in the early s.
Yet by the time Wedde's appeal appeared in , postmodernism had different, contradictory uses in the United States. It was not Olson's or Wedde's "demotic" poetry of location but the work of another Language writer, Bob Perelman, that in Jameson cited as exemplary of the fragmented subject of postmodernism. These contrary uses of postmodernism were reflected in the New Zealand literary field. Although published in the same year in the same country, Wedde's account of postmodernism seems diametrically opposed to those put forward by Leonard Wilcox and Simon During in the New Zealand literary journal Landfall , another venerable institution of Curnow's brand of nationalist modernism.
Wilcox distinguishes between the Olson-inflected, "pastoral" understanding of postmodernism——dominant in New Zealand and conducive to the country's "preoccupation with defining a national identity"——and "those features which theorists have come to see as salient characteristics of postmodernism," such as a "new depthlessness and a whole new culture of the image and the simulacrum" Wilcox cites especially Lyotard and Jameson, repeating the latter's account of the "'schizophrenic' utterances of the so-called Language poetry or New Sentence school of San Francisco" Whereas Wedde uses postmodernism to promote a demotic style that emphasizes "location,…not just in terms of place, but in the fullest cultural sense," for During, "the postmodern subject no longer lives in surroundings where objects are invested with, and bring forth, organised memories and feelings" Wedde 26; During, "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" Instead, Wedde's postmodernism resembles Wilcox's "post-provincialism"——the "cultural nationalist equivalent of postmodernism in New Zealand"——and During's "postcolonialism," defined as the "need for an identity granted not in terms of the colonial power, but in terms of themselves" Wilcox ; During, "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" Wedde, Wilcox, and During extend different parts of the argument put forward by Roger Horrocks a couple of years earlier in his essay "The Invention of New Zealand.
But Horrocks also seems to anticipate During's argument that "representations which claim to reflect, or intend to produce, a distinctively postcolonial reality" are in fact "already postmodern images" "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" While the term postmodern scarcely appears in Horrocks's essay, like During, Horrocks emphasizes the "invention" of a national "reality" and a national literature.
These local cultural battles, as in the United States, involved a network of relations and affiliations that extended beyond the boundary of the nation. Wilcox had completed his PhD at the University of California, Irvine, in , and so brought to New Zealand his knowledge of North American theory along with a sense of his new home's provinciality. Though his essay ends by suggesting the ability of New Zealand postmodernism to engage "the crisis of authority vested in Western European culture and its 'master narratives,'" Wilcox reinforces the spatial and temporal hierarchies that attend periodization He clings to the authority of Euro-American theorists such as Lyotard and Jameson in criticizing the anachronistic use of the term postmodernism in New Zealand.
For Wilcox, New Zealand's anachronistic use of postmodernism reflects the country's "cultural lag" and the fact that it "is not properly a consumer society" When During published his essay on postmodernism in the New Zealand literary journal Landfall , he was teaching at the University of Melbourne, an experience that presumably prompted his comparison between the "postcolonised discourse" of New Zealand and the "import rhetoric" with which he characterized Australia's embrace of French theory "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" This geographical contrast echoes During's own interweaving of postcolonial and postmodern discourse through which he positions himself simultaneously within a national literary conversation and the international networks of the burgeoning field of literary theory.
During extends his negotiation of these overlapping cultural fields in the internationalized version of his essay published two years later as "Postmodernism or Post-Colonialism Today," in which During replaces the local cultural references to Janet Frame and Keri Hulme with names carrying more currency in the global cultural marketplace: Joseph Conrad, Francis Coppola, and Salman Rushdie. While During explicitly seeks "to problematise" both postcolonial and postmodern discourse, his turn to theory to do so and the essay's publication history evince its absorption into "the larger international cultural economy" that During associates with postmodernism "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" , During's use of postmodernism is not only an example of how the term spread outwards from the cultural centers of North America and Western Europe; it also illustrates the competing available meanings of postmodernism that were being deployed and transformed in local cultural battles and that were in turn, via During's later essay, transmitted albeit in muted form back to the cultural center.
In other words, it is not only the unequal power of centers and peripheries within the cultural world-system but also networks of cross-cultural encounters and negotiations that collectively produce the uses of postmodernism. Postmodernism retrospectively provided one term for Russian literature and art of the s and s that rejected the conventions of both official and unofficial culture.
In the s, theorists such as Mikhail Epstein and Viacheslav Kuritsyn sought to describe new tendencies in late-Soviet art, such as Russian conceptualism and "metarealism," as postmodern. Writing in the mids, Boris Ivanov described the new literary experimentalism associated with the late samizdat Mitin zhurnal , which began publishing in the mids: "anyone who wants to properly understand what went on in literature in the second half of the s and who wants a clear idea of how Soviet postmodernism began should be acquainted with this publication" Ivanov Yet a brief survey of content from the early issues of Mitin zhurnal reveals that postmodernism was not a key term at the time.
Epstein also retrospectively associated postmodernism with Russian literature of the s and s, arguing that "corresponding movements and their programs arose in Russian letters before the Western model and terminology were applied to them" Postmodern v Rossii Epstein presents this postmodernist literature as anticipating the collapse of the Soviet Union by connecting the term postmodernism to post-communism and what he terms "post-futurism": "The 'communist future' has become a thing of the past, while the feudal and bourgeois 'past' approaches us from the direction where we had expected to meet the future" After the Future xi.
In other words, Epstein uses postmodernism both to canonize a late-Soviet literature as the new literature of post-Soviet Russia and, at the same time - in a game with a long pedigree in Russia e. Similarly, Boris Groys, in his influential book The Total Art of Stalinism , describes a postmodern art that he claims looks like but differs from Western postmodernism. Where in the West, appropriation is still carried out in the name of "purity and independence"; in Russia, the "complete triumph of modernism dispelled all illusions of purity and impeccability" So that "In the Soviet politician aspiring to transform the world…, the artist inevitably recognizes his alter ego,…and finds that his own inspiration and the callousness of power share some common roots" I am not sure how far this really is from Andy Warhol or from the cynicism of contemporary US conceptual writers such as Vanessa Place and Kenneth Goldsmith.