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Postmodernism and film

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  1. Postmodernism and film • A historical transformation of visual and narrative forms. • Challenging logic of binary oppositions. • New emphasis on the activity of the spectator that acknowledges cultural and social specificity of subject. • Interest in hybrid cinema and identity politics. • Aesthetic strategies of appropriation and pastiche that erode distinction between avant-garde and popular art. • Renewed interest in the popular. • A breakdown in the distinctiveness of media (film, television, video, the digital arts).

  2. Three senses of postmodernism • As a “cultural dominant” defining a distinct historical era. • A philosophical concept marking the end of the ideals of the Enlightenment. • An art historical concept defining a style of expression.

  3. Three senses of postmodernism • The cultural logic of late capitalism (Jameson). • Huyssens: “a noticeable shift in sensibilities, practices, and discourse formations which distinguishes a postmodern set of assumptions, experiences, and propositions from that of a preceding period” (181). • A cultural dominant appropriate to the Third Machine Age of electronic information. • Realism and industrialism or market capitalism (steam power). • Modernism and imperialism or monopoly capitalism (electric and combustion power). • Postmodernism and multinational or global capitalism (electronic and nuclear power). • The ever intense penetration of the commodity form into every aspect of culture.

  4. Three senses of postmodernism • Postmodernism and post-Enlightenment philosophy. • Enlightenment philosophy as foundationalist and epistemology centered. Truth is based on the identity of subject and object. • The turn from hermeneutic or depth models of interpretation (Jameson). Postmodernism and post-structuralism (Huyssens). • Lyotard: the decline of metanarratives. • Progress as the story of history. • Reason as knowledge of totality. • Universality of reason. • The aesthetic as a domain separate from the social and the everyday.

  5. Postmodern style (Jim Collins) • The move from abstraction and geometrics to the overly familiar and mass-produced. • The replacement of purity with eclecticism. • The replacement of internationalism with cultural specificity. • The replacement of invention with rearticulation.

  6. Postmodern style (Fredric Jameson and others) • Effacement of the boundaries between a modernist “high culture” and a mass or commercial “low culture.” • Depthlessness, or accent on surface and superficiality. • Intertexuality, collage, pastiche. Cannibalization and juxtaposition of past styles. • Syntax based on discontinuity and fragmentation, or the proliferation of ideolects: ethnic, racial, gendered, religious, class-based. • Simulation: the disappearance of the referent as a ground for meaning.

  7. Postmodern style • Subjective features. • Schizo-culture: unified cogito replaced by a decentered , fluid, “schizophrenic” mentality. • Waning of affect and the experience of intensities. • The weakening of a sense of history.

  8. The political task of postmodern criticism • Jameson’s idea of “cognitive mapping.” • A restoration of links and interconnections effaced by the fragmentation and atemporality of postmodern space. • The political and didactic functions of postmodern art. • Huyssens: to locate the emergent oppositional, cultural strategies within postmodernism. • The aesthetic image is not distinct from society, but intimately defines it. • To critique the presumed universality of art and the aesthetic. • Restoring a sense of the relation between art and the popular: a renewed interest in the (multiple) pleasures of popular media. • Jim Collins: the postmodern subject as multiple and contradictory, acted upon but also acting upon. • The technologically sophisticated bricoleur and textual “poacher,” appropriating and recombining signs according to personal or social contexts.