08 Postmodernisms and Rearview

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B&S: Postmodernism is:: 

B&S: Postmodernism is: A ‘period’ A cultural view associated with the period A style with definable features ….. A conceptual framework for analysing / approaching the above


Discussion: What are some of the key debates within postmodernism?’ What are the defining features of post-modern texts? In what ways can these be problematic?

Cultural Hierarchies:: 

Cultural Hierarchies: ‘Theatre is life Film is art Television is furniture’ …….. "I find Television very educational. Every time someone switches it on, I go into another room and read a good book." Groucho Marx


The Times Superman comic Laurence Olivier film of Pride and Prejudice Buffy the Vampire Slayer La Boheme McFly The Sun The complete works of Shakespeare BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice The Beatles Bach

Case Studies activity: 

Case Studies activity Using the prompt sheet and your reading of B&S, suggest a media text which you feel can usefully be defined as postmodern. Justify your choice.

postmodernism in action: 

postmodernism in action Teen TV Horror Cyberculture

from Helpless (Season 3): 

from Helpless (Season 3) The gang are in the library researching possible causes of Buffy’s loss of powers XANDER: You know, maybe we're on the wrong track with the whole spell, curse and whammy thing. Maybe what we should be looking for is something like, um, Slayer kryptonite. OZ: Faulty metaphor. Kryptonite kills. XANDER: You're assuming I meant the green kryptonite. I was referring, of course, to the red kryptonite, which drains Superman of his powers. OZ: (thinks) Wrong. The gold kryptonite's the power-sucker. The red kryptonite mutates Superman into some sort of weird... BUFFY: (impatiently) Guys? Reality?

from Buffy vs. Dracula (Season 5): 

from Buffy vs. Dracula (Season 5) Buffy has just staked Dracula. After everyone's left, a fog starts forming, and Dracula reappears. As soon as Dracula has fully appeared, a hand appears and stakes him again. He gasps. BUFFY: You think I don't watch your movies? You always come back. Dracula explodes into dust again. Buffy folds her arms and watches. The fog begins to collect - again. BUFFY: I'm standing right here! The fog dissipates.

from Shakespeare’s Henry V : 

from Shakespeare’s Henry V This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember'd; … We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

from The Gift (Season 5) : 

from The Gift (Season 5) BUFFY: Stay close but don't crowd her. We'll follow in a minute. Everybody knows their jobs. Remember, the ritual starts, we all die. And I'll kill anyone who comes near Dawn. she exits SPIKE: Well, not exactly the St. Crispin's Day speech, was it? GILES: "We few...we happy few..." SPIKE: "We band of buggered..."

Postmodernism and Horror: 

Postmodernism and Horror Horror constitutes a violent disruption of the everyday world Horror transgresses and violates boundaries Horror throws into question the validity of rationality Postmodern horror repudiates narrative closure Horror films produce a bounded experience of fear From: Pinedo, IC; (1997) Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures of Horror Film Viewing; New York:SUNY

Postmodernism and cyberculture: 

Postmodernism and cyberculture ‘Postmodernism’ is a term sometimes used to describe the age of computer technology and cybernetics, as coming after the era of factory production [also known as ‘late modernity’] What other areas of resonance can you identify between postmodernism and cyberculture/new technologies?

Postmodernism and cyberculture: 

Postmodernism and cyberculture Cyberculture enables us to be producers rather than consumers of texts – again, small, fragmented production units Studies of cyberculture often focus on multiple and unstable identities Blurring of real and simulated – virtual realities, CGI Blurring of cultural hierarchies – bricolage, appropriation Absence of narrative/cultural authority & single/scientific truth


Postmodernisms and McLuhan’s Rear-View Mirror

McLuhan’s Rear-View Mirror is:: 

McLuhan’s Rear-View Mirror is: A way of describing our relationship with new technology. We define the new through its resonance with the familiar Eg: electric keyboards look like pianos – why? We still talk about ‘dialling’ phone numbers The ‘file’ icons on computer desktops The term ‘desktop’ Hence, terms become divorced from contexts

Levinson on McLuhan: 

Levinson on McLuhan The internet as new media: Levels hierarchies Form more important than content McLuhan as a technological determinist: People as the products/effects of the media, rather than vice-versa diminishment of human control

Stances Toward Technological Determinism: : 

Stances Toward Technological Determinism: Extreme (also called "strong" or "hard") technological determinists: Information technology (or some other) will radically transform society and/or our ways of thinking (or has already done so). In a more cautious variation of this stance, weak (or "soft") technological determinists present technology as a key factor which may facilitate such changes in society or behavior. Commentators on technology take four main standpoints:

In opposition, two groups downplay the role of technology: : 

In opposition, two groups downplay the role of technology: Socio-cultural determinists present technologies and media as entirely subordinate to their development and use in particular socio-political, historical and culturally-specific contexts. Voluntarists emphasize individual control over the tools which they see themselves as "choosing" to use. from: Technological or Media Determinism Daniel Chandler http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tdet11.html

To think about:: 

To think about: Where would you place yourself? McLuhan? Levinson? How do you perceive the relationship between postmodernism and technological determinism?

Further reading:: 

Further reading: Daniel Chandler on technological determinism: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tecdet.html Imagining Futures, Dramatizing Fears:The Portrayal of Technology in Literature and Film Technological or Media Determinism Passages from Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~kimble/teaching/cis/cis4.html Article reflecting on Cyberpunk, cyberspace & the global village: Marshall McLuhan Meets William Gibson in "Cyberspace“ by Michael E. Doherty, Jr. http://ibiblio.org/cmc/mag/1995/sep/doherty.html

Terry L. Heaton: perspectives on the web, the news and postmodernism: 

Terry L. Heaton: perspectives on the web, the news and postmodernism TV News in a Postmodern World: Beyond the World Wide Web August 2004 http://dirckhalstead.org/issue0408/heaton.html TV News in a Postmodern World: The Rise of the Independent Video Journalist October 2003 http://dirckhalstead.org/issue0310/tvpomo.html

And for your amusement at the expense of postmodern theorists and their impenetrable writing…: 

And for your amusement at the expense of postmodern theorists and their impenetrable writing… ‘intellectual writing doesn't have to have any conscious direction at all’ http://www.elsewhere.org/cgi-bin/postmodern http://www.brysons.net/generator.html http://www.info.ucl.ac.be/people/PVR/decon.html How to Deconstruct Almost Anything--My Postmodern Adventure Chip Morningstar, Electric Communities

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