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26. Modernism and Protopostmodernism

Patrick O'Donnell

Subject Literature » American Literature

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics modernism, novel and novella, postmodernism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631206873.2009.00029.x


In a now classic essay on the relation between modernism and postmodernism, “Mapping the Postmodern,” Andreas Huyssen writes: “In much of the postmodernism debate, a very conventional thought pattern has asserted itself. Either it is said that postmodernism is continuous with modernism; or, it is claimed that there is a radical rupture, a break with modernism, which is then evaluated in either positive or negative terms” ( Huyssen 1986 : 182). Huyssen goes on to argue that the relation between modernism and postmodernism is more of a shifting of sensibilities than a historical rupture — a shift wherein “modernism's relentless hostility to mass culture” is challenged by postmodernism's integrations of pop and high art (p. 188). Reiterations of this debate continue more than 20 years after Huyssen had announced the exhaustion of its possibilities, and Huyssen's own position has been vigorously challenged by new historical and cultural work in modernist studies that reveal the extent to which the relation of key modernist figures to mass culture is far from hostile. In this essay, I will focus on the relation between modernism and postmodernism primarily in terms of how temporality in modern writing reveals the ways in which “anticipatory” discourse — concerned with its own futurity per se — imbricates the postmodern within the modern. For postmodernism, it would be redundant to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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