B&S: Postmodernism is:B&S: Postmodernism is:
1.1. A ‘period’A ‘period’
2.2. A cultural view associated with theA cultural view associated with the
3.3. A style with definable featuresA style with definable features
4.4. A conceptual framework forA conceptual framework for
analysing / approaching the aboveanalysing / approaching the above
What are some of the key debatesWhat are some of the key debates
within postmodernism?’within postmodernism?’
What are the defining features of post-What are the defining features of post-
modern texts?modern texts?
In what ways can these beIn what ways can these be
Cultural Hierarchies:Cultural Hierarchies:
‘‘Theatre is lifeTheatre is life
Film is artFilm is art
Television is furniture’Television is furniture’
"I find Television very educational. Every time"I find Television very educational. Every time
someone switches it on, I go into another roomsomeone switches it on, I go into another room
and read a good book."and read a good book." Groucho MarxGroucho Marx
The TimesThe Times
Laurence Olivier film ofLaurence Olivier film of Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice
Buffy the Vampire SlayerBuffy the Vampire Slayer
La BohemeLa Boheme
The SunThe Sun
The complete works of ShakespeareThe complete works of Shakespeare
BBC adaptation ofBBC adaptation of Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice
Jane Austen’sJane Austen’s Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice
The BeatlesThe Beatles
Case Studies activityCase Studies activity
Using the prompt sheet and yourUsing the prompt sheet and your
reading of B&S, suggest a media textreading of B&S, suggest a media text
which you feel can usefully be definedwhich you feel can usefully be defined
as postmodern.as postmodern.
Justify your choice.Justify your choice.
postmodernism in actionpostmodernism in action
Teen TVTeen TV
fromfrom HelplessHelpless (Season 3)(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?
fromfrom Buffy vs. DraculaBuffy vs. Dracula (Season 5)(Season 5)
Buffy has just staked Dracula. After everyone's left, a fog startsBuffy has just staked Dracula. After everyone's left, a fog starts
forming, and Dracula reappears. As soon as Dracula has fullyforming, and Dracula reappears. As soon as Dracula has fully
appeared, a hand appears and stakes him again. He gasps.appeared, a hand appears and stakes him again. He gasps.
BUFFY:BUFFY: You think I don't watch your movies? You always comeYou think I don't watch your movies? You always come
Dracula explodes into dust again. Buffy folds her arms andDracula explodes into dust again. Buffy folds her arms and
watches. The fog begins to collect - again.watches. The fog begins to collect - again.
BUFFY:BUFFY: I'm standing right here!I'm standing right here! The fog dissipates.The fog dissipates.
from Shakespeare’s Henry Vfrom Shakespeare’s Henry V
This story shall the good man teach his son;This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd; …But we in it shall be remember'd; …
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with meFor he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bedAnd gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaksAnd hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
fromfrom The GiftThe Gift (Season 5)(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
SPIKE: Well, not exactly the St. Crispin's Day speech,
GILES: "We few...we happy few..."
SPIKE: "We band of buggered..."
Postmodernism and HorrorPostmodernism and Horror
Horror constitutes a violent disruption of theHorror constitutes a violent disruption of the
everyday worldeveryday world
Horror transgresses and violates boundariesHorror transgresses and violates boundaries
Horror throws into question the validity ofHorror throws into question the validity of
Postmodern horror repudiates narrativePostmodern horror repudiates narrative
Horror films produce a bounded experienceHorror films produce a bounded experience
of fearof fear
From: Pinedo, IC; (1997)From: Pinedo, IC; (1997) Recreational Terror: Women and the PleasuresRecreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures
of Horror Film Viewingof Horror Film Viewing; New York:SUNY; New York:SUNY
Postmodernism and cyberculturePostmodernism and cyberculture
‘‘Postmodernism’ is a term sometimes used toPostmodernism’ is a term sometimes used to
describe the age of computer technology anddescribe the age of computer technology and
cybernetics, as coming after the era of factorycybernetics, as coming after the era of factory
production [also known as ‘late modernity’]production [also known as ‘late modernity’]
What other areas of resonance can you identifyWhat other areas of resonance can you identify
between postmodernism and cyberculture/newbetween postmodernism and cyberculture/new
Postmodernism and cyberculturePostmodernism and cyberculture
Cyberculture enables us to be producers rather thanCyberculture enables us to be producers rather than
consumers of texts – again, small, fragmentedconsumers of texts – again, small, fragmented
production unitsproduction units
Studies of cyberculture often focus on multiple andStudies of cyberculture often focus on multiple and
unstable identitiesunstable identities
Blurring of real and simulated – virtual realities, CGIBlurring of real and simulated – virtual realities, CGI
Blurring of cultural hierarchies – bricolage,Blurring of cultural hierarchies – bricolage,
Absence of narrative/cultural authority &Absence of narrative/cultural authority &
single/scientific truthsingle/scientific truth
Postmodernisms andPostmodernisms and
McLuhan’s Rear-View MirrorMcLuhan’s Rear-View Mirror
McLuhan’s Rear-View Mirror is:McLuhan’s Rear-View Mirror is:
A way of describing our relationship with newA way of describing our relationship with new
technology. We define the new through itstechnology. We define the new through its
resonance with the familiarresonance with the familiar
electric keyboards look like pianos – why?electric keyboards look like pianos – why?
We still talk about ‘dialling’ phone numbersWe still talk about ‘dialling’ phone numbers
The ‘file’ icons on computer desktopsThe ‘file’ icons on computer desktops
The term ‘desktop’The term ‘desktop’
Hence, terms become divorced from contextsHence, terms become divorced from contexts
Levinson on McLuhanLevinson on McLuhan
The internet as new media:The internet as new media:
Levels hierarchiesLevels hierarchies
Form more important than contentForm more important than content
McLuhan as a technological determinist:McLuhan as a technological determinist:
People as the products/effects of the media,People as the products/effects of the media,
rather than vice-versarather than vice-versa
diminishment of human controldiminishment of human control
Stances Toward Technological Determinism:
1.1. ExtremeExtreme (also called "strong" or "hard")(also called "strong" or "hard")
technological deterministstechnological determinists:: InformationInformation
technology (or some other) will radicallytechnology (or some other) will radically
transform society and/or our ways of thinkingtransform society and/or our ways of thinking
(or has already done so).(or has already done so).
2.2. In a more cautious variation of this stance,In a more cautious variation of this stance,
weakweak (or "soft") technological determinists(or "soft") technological determinists
present technology as a key factor whichpresent technology as a key factor which
maymay facilitatefacilitate such changes in society orsuch changes in society or
Commentators on technology take four main
In opposition, two groups
downplay the role of
3.3. Socio-cultural deterministsSocio-cultural determinists presentpresent
technologies and media as entirely subordinatetechnologies and media as entirely subordinate
to their development and use in particular socio-to their development and use in particular socio-
political, historical and culturally-specificpolitical, historical and culturally-specific
4.4. VoluntaristsVoluntarists emphasizeemphasize individualindividual control overcontrol over
the tools which they see themselves asthe tools which they see themselves as
"choosing" to use."choosing" to use.
from: Technological or Media Determinism Daniel Chandler
To think about:To think about:
Where would you place yourself?Where would you place yourself?
How do you perceive the relationshipHow do you perceive the relationship
between postmodernism andbetween postmodernism and
technological determinism?technological determinism?
Further reading:Further reading:
Daniel ChandlerDaniel Chandler on technological determinism:on technological determinism:
Imagining Futures, Dramatizing Fears:The Portrayal of Technology inImagining Futures, Dramatizing Fears:The Portrayal of Technology in
Literature and FilmLiterature and Film
Technological or Media DeterminismTechnological or Media Determinism
Passages from Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to
Article reflecting on Cyberpunk, cyberspace & the global village: Marshall McLuhanMarshall McLuhan
Meets William Gibson in "Cyberspace“Meets William Gibson in "Cyberspace“ by Michael E. Doherty, Jr.by Michael E. Doherty, Jr.
Terry L. Heaton: perspectives on the web,Terry L. Heaton: perspectives on the web,
the news and postmodernismthe news and postmodernism
TV News in a Postmodern World: Beyond the WorldTV News in a Postmodern World: Beyond the World
Wide Web August 2004Wide Web August 2004
TV News in a Postmodern World: The Rise of theTV News in a Postmodern World: The Rise of the
Independent Video Journalist October 2003Independent Video Journalist October 2003
And for your amusement at the expense ofAnd for your amusement at the expense of
postmodern theorists and their impenetrablepostmodern theorists and their impenetrable
‘intellectual writing doesn't have to have any
conscious direction at all’
http://www.info.ucl.ac.be/people/PVR/decon.htmlhttp://www.info.ucl.ac.be/people/PVR/decon.html How to DeconstructHow to Deconstruct
Almost Anything--My Postmodern AdventureAlmost Anything--My Postmodern Adventure Chip Morningstar, ElectricChip Morningstar, Electric
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