A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction by Linda Hutcheon

By Linda Hutcheon

Half I
1 Theorizing the postmodern: towards a poetics
2 Modelling the postmodern: parody and politics
3 proscribing the postmodern: the paradoxical aftermath of modernism
4 Decentering the postmodern: the ex-centric
5 Contextualizing the postmodern: enunciation and the revenge of “parole”
6 Historicizing the postmodern: the problematizing of history

PART II
7 Historiographic metafiction: “the hobby of earlier time”
8 Intertextuality, parody, and the discourses of history
9 the matter of reference
10 topic in/of/to heritage and his story
11 Discourse, energy, ideology: humanism and postmodernism
12 Political double-talk
13 end: a poetics or a problematics?

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Extra resources for A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction

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Yet postmodernism does not entirely negate modernism. It cannot. What it does do is interpret it freely; it “critically reviews it for its glories and its errors” (Portoghesi 1982, 28). Thus modernism’s dogmatic reductionism, its inability to deal with ambiguity and irony, and its denial of the validity of the past were all issues that were seriously examined and found wanting. Postmodernism attempts to be historically aware, hybrid, and inclusive. Seemingly inexhaustible historical and social curiosity and a provisional and paradoxical stance (somewhat ironic, yet involved) replace the prophetic, prescriptive posture of the great masters of modernism.

Is the highly individualized and problematic voice of Saleem Sinai in Midnight’s Children really to be dubbed “depthless” and “without style”? Is that novel (or are Coover’s The Public Burning or Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel) to be seriously labelled as empty of political content? Yet Eagleton asserts all of this—minus the examples—as defining what he calls postmodernism (1985, 61). He continues. And I would again ask: in Findley’s Famous Last Words, does the obvious “performativity” of the text really “replace truth” (Eagleton 1985, 63) or does it, rather, question whose notion of truth gains power and authority over others and then examine the process of how it does so?

Those rules and categories are what the work of art itself is looking for. (1984b, 81) III To analyze discourses is to hide and reveal contradictions; it is to show the play that they set up within it; it is to manifest how it can express them, embody them, or give them a temporary appearance. Michel Foucault Jameson has listed “theoretical discourse” among the manifestations of postmodernism (1983, 112) and this would include, not only the obvious Marxist, feminist, and poststructuralist philosophical and literary theory, but also analytic philosophy, psychoanalysis, linguistics, historiography, sociology, and other areas.

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