What is postmodernism? This class will attempt to begin to suggest some possible answers, working through what we think we mean when we call something postmodern, but also what we COULD mean, what kind of potential we can find in that post-iness. Is postmodernism a unified term, or are there plural postmodernisms? Is the postmodern a style, or is it a period? How is it related to American world dominance, the end of ideology, cybertheory, postcolonialism, multiculturalism, the end of history, postfeminism, deconstruction, the preeminence of irony? Can I choose not to be a postmodernist in a postmodern world? Does it matter one way or the other what I choose?
Readings will include critical and theoretical attempts to define postmodernism, fiction and poetry that may or may not be postmodern, and occasional supplements from fine arts, film, television, and music. Participants in this course will be expected to contribute frequent short written assignments and will be responsible for determining the structure of at least part of two class periods (presenting material, leading discussion, performance, etc.). In addition, participants will be required to make moderate to heavy use of the Internet, so all students taking the course should plan to have access to email and to the World Wide Web.