Invitation to Collective Writing Experiment for EPAT 50th Celebration 2018
Declarations of the death knell of postmodernism are now quite commonplace. Various publications such as those below suggest that, if anything, postmodernism is at an end and has been dead and buried for some time. An age dominated by playfulness, hybridity, relativism, and the fragmentary self has given way to something else, as yet undefined. Brian McHale (2015) describes the lifecycle of postmodernism in terms of the ‘big bang’ in 1966 with Derrida’s seminal paper ‘Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’ at the Johns Hopkins conference ‘The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man’ symposium; its peak years in 1973-1989; uncertainty and reorientation in the 1990s; and the aftermath and beyond after 2001. (What happened to the intervening period -- some 16 years?)
Beginning in the late 1980s and extending into the 1990s there were a variety of books that proclaimed the end of postmodernism – Sociology after postmodernism (Owen, 1997), Thinking Again: Education after postmodernism (Blake et al, 1998), After Postmodernism: Education, Politics and Identity (Smith & Wexler, 1995), and Encounters: philosophy of history after postmodernism (Domańska. 1998). These assessments continued well into the 2000s – Philosophy after postmodernism, (Crowther, 2003), Feminism after postmodernism (Zalewski, 2000), Painting after postmodernism (Rose, 2016), Literature after postmodernism: reconstructive fantasies (Huber, 2014), Value, art, politics: criticism, meaning and interpretation after postmodernism (Harris, 2007).
PoMo is no more. It has been succeeded by a new sensibility and configuration. We are not sure what it is exactly but we know that one era has died and another has begun. Why should this be surprising? All intellectual fashions change. It’s part of intellectuality under late capitalism—even Western Marxism is subject to its whims. We know a little about the circulation of ideas and the phenomenon now referred to as ‘viral’ in relation to social media mostly now measured in ‘hits’ rather than use or citation.
Various possibilities have been put forward after postmodernism: post-postmodernism, new materialism, posthumanism, critical realism, digimodernism, metamodernism, performatism, post-digitalism, trans-postmodernism, post-millennialism, Marxism after postmodernism, and transnationality as the contemporary cultural logic of neoliberal global capitalism. There is no consensus except an agreement that an innocent return to Modernism, humanism, ‘objectivity’ is no longer a possibility. If the 1990s were a decade when scholars in a range of disciplines asked the question of after postmodernism the 2000s were a decade that investigated a range of substitutes and possibilities.