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Postmodernism

A Very Short Introduction
Narrated by: Christine Williams
Length: 4 hrs and 7 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
3.5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Editorial Reviews

Chrisopher Butler’s even-handed, eloquently written primer pierces through the nebulousness surrounding this oft-discussed and frequently misunderstood subject, and offers a succinct yet comprehensive look at its fundamental precepts, its inception in architecture and eventual prevalence in all art forms, as well its relation to other theories, including, but not limited to, deconstruction and post-colonialism.

The welcoming and amiable tone of narrator Christine Williams lends an approachable feel to this enlightening audiobook that will appeal to those both familiar and unfamiliar with the subject at hand.

Publisher's Summary

Postmodernism has been a buzzword in contemporary society for the last decade. But how can it be defined? In this Very Short Introduction Christopher Butler challenges and explores the key ideas of postmodernists, and their engagement with theory, literature, the visual arts, film, architecture, and music. He treats artists, intellectuals, critics, and social scientists 'as if they were all members of a loosely constituted and quarrelsome political party' - a party which includes such members as Cindy Sherman, Salman Rushdie, Jacques Derrida, Walter Abish, and Richard Rorty - creating a vastly entertaining framework in which to unravel the mysteries of the 'postmodern condition', from the politicizing of museum culture to the cult of the politically correct.

About the series: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These audiobooks are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly listenable.

©2002 Christopher Butler (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Dan
  • 17-02-2017

Extremely biased

I was hoping for a general introduction to the topic, but was disappointed to instead find an extremely slanted critique of postmodernism. I don't know why this anti-postmodernism tract was given the general and misleading title of "postmodernism." The author does provide arguments against postmodernism, but also frequently simply dismisses or belittles postmodernist ideas without actually refuting them or demonstrating any actual flaws. He will, for example, in passing refer to postmodernist concepts as "shallow," "uninspiring," "merely conceptual," etc. without justifying his own personal interpretation. If you're looking for an anti-postmodernism book, look no further. Otherwise, you'd do better to read something else.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-07-2020

A horrible way to be introduced to postmodernism

1. The author is extremely antipathetic to postmodern philosophy and art and never even tries to be objective on the issue. There is nothing wrong with disliking postmodernism or any school of thought, for that matter, but this is supposed to be an introduction. Be aware that if you buy this book in order to be introduced to this philosophy you will view it through the lens of someone extremely critical (and I dare say even extremely biased) and will never really be able see the perspective on actual postmodern authors. Most critically, the positions of most postmodern thinkers are not even stated well, they are merely mentioned so afterwards the author can criticize them. About 20% of the content is describing an author and about 80% criticizing them. Very important postmodern authors are also absent or poorly represented. I don't believe Gilles Deleuze was actually ever mentioned, Lyotard and Baudrillard are only mentioned scantily, The most mentioned thinkers are Barthes, Derrida and Foucault (who can be argued is not a postmodernist) and their views are not explored enough. Another very important issue is that the author is more likely to quote critics of postmodernism such as Sokal or Eagleton or Jameson than the postmodern philosophers themselves to the point where by the end I began to doubt whether he's actually read many of them and if he simply wrote this book on the second hand account of those people. If the book was called "Crticism of Postmodernism" the first point would be omitted and I'd only write the second one, but since this is supposed to introduce one to postmodernism, the book fails spectacularly to do so. 2. The second point is that his criticisms of postmodernism are not really valid, in my opinion. There are so many things pomo could be criticized for and yet Butler's criticism of it is just a mishmash of common misconceptions about postmodernism. For one he repeatedly prescribes relativism to postmodernism, which is wide-spread myth, and he never really makes his case for why are they relativists, he simply assumes they are. He seems to conflict "can truth be known at all" with "every truth is equally valid." Secondly he seems far more interested in criticizing modern left and simply assumes postmodernism is to blame for that, never really showing the clear influence of the latter on the former. For example, when criticizing postmodern philosopher's attitude to science (another common myth) his arguments are one literary comparison of Baudrillard's (out of context, since he uses a quotation of him from Sokal and Baudrillard's actual text) and then a lengthy discussion of an article from some feminist anthropologist Emily Martin. The fact that she’s not a postmodern philosopher seems to be irrelevant. Midway through the fourth chapter, Butler simply diverges into criticism of feminism, never really thinking that many of the things mentioned have nothing to do with pomo. He then proudly cites the attitudes of those feminists that contradict pomo as if he'd caught pomo in a self-contradiction never really thinking that perhaps this means that those people are not representations of pomo? Thirdly, he seems to assume postmodernism is identity politics, never really considering that that goes against many of the most common pomo features such as skepticism towards identity itself. Fourthly he seems to be convinced that pomo comes directly from Marx, once again, never really explaining how, simply stating things such as: "postmodernism is largely pessimist, haunted by Marx’s lost revolutionary hopes." And finally he simply does not seem to understand many of the postmodern concepts. He criticizes the denial of meta-narratives by saying something along the lines of "would you deny the meta-narrative of evolution." He does not seem to understand that evolution would not be deemed a meta-narrative, that a wrong philosophy based on evolution (for example nazism) would be. He also does not seem to understand the differences between what Wittgenstein wrote and what Derrida wrote, misrepresenting two philosophers at once, two birds with one stone. He simply says that Derrida ignored that Wittgenstein delved into philosophical implications of language, as if Derrida's claim that western philosophy is logocentric implies that no one has ever discussed language in the west. All in all, I'm puzzled at how this book got published, was it even peer-reviewed? Makes me really skeptical of buying other VSI books now, if their standards are so poor. On the other hand, in their defense, I'd recommend Poststruturalism a Very Short Introduction, a book which is not about pomo per se, but does represent Barthes, Foucalt and Derrida, along with many other pomo thinkers, far, far more fairly and amusingly. This book is simply poorly researched, biased nonsense.

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  • Andrew M Graves
  • 14-07-2019

Not for audible

Maybe this book would read okay in print but the speaker is talking fast, the sentences are thick with meaning. No way a person can catch the meaning.

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  • Jeremiah St Thomas
  • 28-08-2017

Dense, but important start

I really enjoyed the narration and content. Very important in understanding the thought processes of many of our young people and the portion of our society that lean left.

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  • Mr. L. Bower
  • 31-12-2018

useful

heard so much about postmodernism recently, in this Jordan Peterson "neo Marxist post modernist SJW" era. really helpful to hear a relatively even-handed appraisal of postmodernism that was written well before identity politics kicked off wholesale. narrator sounds like an Android, which is unfortunate.

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  • Patrick Powell
  • 20-05-2018

Good

Read the one about continental philosophy... Then read this one... Then make your mind up..