by Cozette Blumenfeld
Postmodernism is a movement which developed from modernism and is a feature of mid to late 20th century art, philosophy, and criticism. If Modernism, which marks the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reflects the newly emerged industrial world through urbanization, technology, and war, postmodernism rejects and ironizes these values. The broad movement criticizes Enlightenment era rationale--the importance of reason, and pedestalized ideals of liberty, progress, toleration, and fraternity, along with constitutional government. Postmodernism focuses on the role of ideology, a set of beliefs attributed to a person or group, in the continuation of political, economic, and societal power. The movement insists that value systems and knowledge are dependent on or conditioned by social constructs and hierarchies. Postmodernism is marked by self-consciousness, self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence. The movement picked up speed in the 1980’s and 90’s, and can be associated with deconstruction, post-structuralism, and critique of institutions. Poststructuralism can also be associated with philosophers such as Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Frederic Jameson, Jean Baudrillard, and David Harvey. Critical postmodernism theory has been embraced in various fields, including philosophy, economics, cultural studies, feminism, architecture, literature, music, and art. Criticism of Postmodernism argues that the movement is meaningless, and promotes obscurantism, or deliberate prevention of facts and details from being known.
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