A Poetics of Postmodernism:
History, Theory, Fiction.

Routledge, 1988.
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A Poetics of Postmodernism:
History, Theory, Fiction.

Neither a defense nor a denunciation of the postmodern, this study directly addresses the use and abuse of the label in a variety of disciplines—literature, visual arts, film, architecture, literary theory, history, and philosophy. Modelled on postmodern architecture, postmodernism is here the name given to those cultural practices of the late twentieth century characterized by major paradoxes of form and ideology. The title's “poetics” of postmodernism is drawn from these contradictions, as seen in the intersecting concerns of contemporary theory and artistic practice.

Part I maps out the history and consequences of the simultaneous inscribing and subverting of conventions in both art and theory, with a special emphasis on the impact of both feminism and theories of the writing of history. Part II concentrates on what is called “historiographic metafiction” as the paradigm of the postmodern contesting of the boundaries between art and theory as well as between fiction and history. Analyses of issues such as narrative, reference, subjectivity, and intertextuality bring the combined discourses on history, theory, and fiction to bear on novels from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe, in order to show how the “problematizing” of the entire notion of historical knowledge reveals the conflicting political and ideological implications of postmodernism's willful contradictions.

Table of Contents

Part I

Chapter One: Theorizing the Postmodern: Toward a Poetics

Chapter Two: Modelling the Postmodern: Parody and Politics

Chapter Three: Limiting the Postmodern: The Paradoxical Aftermath of Modernism

Chapter Four: Decentering the Postmodern: The Ex-centric

Chapter Five: Contextualizing the Postmodern: Enunciation and the Revenge of “Parole”

Chapter Six: Historicizing the Postmodern: The Problematizing of History

Part II

Chapter Seven: Historiographic Metafiction: “The Pastime of Past Time”

Chapter Eight: Intertextuality, Parody, and the Discourses of History

Chapter Nine: The Problem of Reference

Chapter Ten: Subject in/of/to History and His Story

Chapter Eleven: Discourse, Power, Ideology: Humanism and Postmodernism

Chapter Twelve: Political Double-talk

Chapter Thirteen: Conclusion: A Poetics or a Problematics?