PoMo Critical Theory
aka 'critically reading critical reading'
Fortnightly discussion with Dr Bill Pascoe, commencing June 1st 2017 – 12 noon (bring your lunch) – in the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing room, MC101 or MC102.
This will focus on Post Structuralism and Post Modernism. A lot of people are a bit confused or put off by these topics, and they get a lot of bad press for using obfuscating language, which is unfortunate because there's some really interesting stuff that can change your way of looking at things, so the plan is to have a look at a few key moments in some brief texts, and start making sense.
We might also look at a brief history of Critical Theory and what's coming next: Neoliberalism, Material Turn, EcoCriticism, Post Human, New Sincerity, Left Bowdlerism, Microcultures, Fandom, Digital Humanities.
Non Eurocentric literary theory: China, Japan, South Asia, Persian and Arabic, Subsaharan Africa, Pre-Columbian American, First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples or anything else relevant.
What's the difference between post-structuralism and postmodernism? Post-structuralism is more a philosophy and approach to critical theory whereas post modernity is a descriptive term applied to cultural developments and artefacts in the 20th Century after Modernism. Post structuralism is suited to a discussion about ideas, where as post modernity is suited to discussion around its themes and characteristics, with examples. So, for example, in Post Structuralism we might deconstruct a text, or elaborate the concept of differance, while in Post Modernism we might look at a movie and talk pop culture, anachronism and intertextuality. Neither has anything like a stated manifesto that individuals adopted, rather we use these terms to describe various thinkers and cultural phenomena that have various things in common.
Some Terms and Concepts
|1/6/2017||A brief history of Critical Theory: Classical Poetics, Trivium, Renaissance Humanism, Enlightenment, Baroque, Mannerism, Rococco, Romanticism, Neoclassicism, Realism, Decadence, Modernism (and its many isms, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Russian Formalism, etc), Marxism, Positivism, New Criticism, Feminism, Post-colonialism, Post-structuralism.|
Barthes, The Death Of The Author
The previous link dissappeared, so here's two more instances:
(A starting text for many PoMo courses.)
Baudrillard, The Precession of Simulacra, in Simulations and Simulacra.
(In particular the bit under heading "Hyperreal and Imaginary" - to paraphrase Baudrillard, 'Dreamworld exists to convince everyone that Brisbane is real')
Haraway, Donna. A Cyborg Manifesto
(If it's too long read the last bit, 'Cyborgs: a myth of political identity')
Saussure, Course In General Linguistics
(This is a founding text of structuralism and semiology, which became semiotics. This link is a good selection but you can skip ahead to read from p17 onwards.)
Derrida, chapter 'Différance' in Margins of Philosophy
(Derrida can be difficult, but if you start with this one, where he explains concepts relatively clearly, the rest starts to make sense. We read Saussure beforehand because to understand Derrida we must defer to Saussure and see how he differs.)
Foucault, chapters 'The Body Of The Condemned' and 'Panopticism' in Discipline and Punish
(this a bit long, but Foucault is a clear and engrossing writer)
Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix, chapter 'Introduction: rhizomes' in A Thousand Plateaus.
(wtf? It's all about the rhizomes. Deleuze and Guattari are the exemplars par excellence of the kind of obscure language, bordering on profound sounding nonsense, that people complain about in Post Structuralism, but the rhizome metaphor has been very influential, makes a lot of sense, makes you rethink your assumptions at the root, and is very zeitgeisty.)
- Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination
- Jacques Lacan
- Umberto Eco
- Levi Strauss (Structuralist Anthropologist)
- Vladimir Propp (Structuralist Narratologist), Morphology Of The Russian Folktale
- Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce is a 19th century philosopher who pre-empted structuralism with a theory of signs and semiotics, describing a 3 part structure of the sign, which has some features in common with Saussure and later thinkers such as the sign representing an idea rather than real object and the potential infinite regress of meaning.
- Marshall McLuhan: Gutenberg Bible and others. McLuhan is the godfather of media studies. Many of his discussions were drawn on across all fields. He was atuned to the media obsession of the 20th century and was prophetic, coining many terms still commonly used, such as 'surfing' the web (before the Internet was invented), hot and cold media, 'the medium is the message', and many more.
- Jacob von Uexkull: A Stroll Through The Worlds Of Animals And Men. This seminal work on zoo-semiotics is one of my all time favourite books. In easy to understand prose with charming illustrations Uexkull discusses such fascinating things in the evolution of meaning as what the sun 'means' to a sunflower, and the relative speed of space time for snails and samurai fighting fish. When you consider the perceptual range of a tick, it's easy to understand that reality is 'subjectively constructed', or in Uexkull's terminology, an 'Umwelt'.
Some Light Entertainment
Here's a few enjoyable cultural artefacts that make a lot of sense from a PoMo point of view:
- Soda Jerk, Hollywood Burn http://www.sodajerk.com.au/video_work.php?v=20120921063810 and The Was http://www.sodajerk.com.au/video_work.php?v=20160709074312
- Wild Palms
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the graphic novel, not the movie)
- A Clockwork Orange
- Philip K Dick
- Jorge Luis Borges
- Italo Calvino
- Umberto Eco
- Jeff Koons
- Pop Art
- Takashi Murakami
- Chris Marker, Sans Soleil and/or La Jetee
- Any social media (it's a pomo dream come true: a multi-reader-authored decentred bricolage rhizome of sampled and remixed ironic multimedia pop ephemera and virtual identity)
- Vaporwave: A Brief History You know a movement has passed when it's revived as retro - vaporwave does this for postmodernism. But that's, like, so postmodern.