Postmodernism has been a buzzword until recently. It is hardly deniable that it has been quite influential in almost every area of human creativity. More particularly, the discourse of postmodernism has dominated the contemporary debates on culture, social theory and philosophy. It has been facilely celebrated by some as highly radical and subversive, on the one hand, and uncritically denounced as extremely pessimistic, conservative and nihilistic by others, on the other. Still others have already announced the end of the postmodern. It is considered to be passé. The purpose of this paper is to address some fundamental questions about the nature and relevance of the discourse of postmodernism by critically engaging some of the important theorists and critics of postmodernism. The paper will address the questions such as these: Is postmodernity a continuation of or simply a higher phase of the modernity or there are some striking novelties about it? Have the conditions, which produced the global discourse of postmodernism radically altered so as to make it obsolete? If postmodernism sought to critical engage the enlightenment logic of modernity, is it now the time to historicize and problematise the logic of postmodern itself? Has the postmodern decentring of subject, its critique of Enlightenment and celebration of fragmentation and hybridity been emancipatory or conservative force? Has its collapsing of boundaries between high and popular culture, between oppositional and subversively ironic stances simply contributed to production of a global commodity culture? Has there been something truly radical about it or it has only been guiltily complicit with the status quo?. Has it not already been canonized, co-opted or domesticated, like modernism? Has it radically undermined or only contributed to the consolidation of Eurocentrism and a new kind of cultural imperialism? Does it address our present day dilemmas or the 21st century challenges in any useful way? An attempt will also be made to reassess the postmodern arguments about language, mediation, subjectivity and agency.
|Keywords:||Postmodernism, Postmodernity, Enlightenment, Language, Mediation, Subjectivity, Hybridity, Critique|
Reader in English, Department of Postgraduate Studies, Punjabi University, Rajpura, Punjab, India
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