Course Description

"Postmodernism" has become, with its adoption by the popular media, one of those words that everyone uses but no one is quite able to define. It seems to have something to do with kitsch, something to do with pastiche, something to do with fragmentation and discontinuity. But is it a style, a form, or a period? In short: is "postmodernism" a thing? Or, as many critics and theorists argue, is it in fact many things, a term so multiple in its meanings as to be evacuated of all content? Our path through this course will first lead us to confront the core of what has been called "the postmodern debate," followed by an attempt at mapping the borders of the postmodern. Then we'll begin violating those boundaries, testing our definitions through its multiple variants. To this end, we'll examine a wide variety of texts, both those traditionally identified as "postmodern" and those usually given other labels, such as "postcolonial." Through this investigation, we'll try to determine whether the amalgamation of concepts and theories surrounding this contested, ambiguous term is useful to the reading of a certain kind -- or kinds -- of post-World War II fiction.