Annotated Bibliography of Works on Post-postmodernism

Caution! Books and articles with titles like “After/Beyond/In the Wake of/ Postmodernism” seldom deliver what they promise. While many authors agree that postmodernism is somehow over with or ending, most still write in a posthistorical mode that doesn’t allow them to make categorical distinctions between old and new.  The giveaway is often the  suffix “re-“ (as in reappraisal, reexamination, rethinking etc.), which usually means the author in question is more interested in "re-"hashing postmodernism and poststructuralism than in saying anything new.  My annotated bibliography  tries to identify off-topic or purely backwards-looking works and single out writings that help us understand post-postmodernism in a productive way. 

     I'll be adding new entries as they appear or as I come across them, and I'd be happy to include any suggestions coming from readers. 


 Last update: 17 September 2016


 

Amian, Katrin. Rethinking Postmodernism(s). Charles S. Peirce and the Prag­matist Negotiations of Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Amsterdam 2008.  

  • A typical "re-"work. The author reexamines a number of postmodern works using the pragmatic philosophy of Charles Saunders Peirce (who died in 1914). Only the chapter on Jonathan Foer’s Everything is Illu­minated suggests something like a post-postmodern perspective (p. 23 ff.) without going into any great detail about it.

Bourriaud, Nicholas.   Altermodern Manifesto. <http://www.artsandecology.org.uk/magazine/features/nicholas-bourriaud--altermodern-manifesto>

  •  Bourriaud was curator of the widely discussed exhibition “Altermodernism” at the London Tate Gallery in 2009. According to his very brief “Alter­mo­dern Manifesto” (ca. 500 words) altermo­der­nism is a “pla­netary movement of creolization” directed against cultural relativism and deconstruction. On the whole, the concept remains vague and is often reminiscent of current definitions of postmodernism as well as Bourriaud’s earlier concept of “relationalism.”   

Boxall, Peter. Twenty-First-Century Fiction. A Critical Introduction. Cambridge UK 2013.

  • A wide-ranging exercise in contemporary literary criticism that with typical posthistorical caution does not wish to "propose a stable new critical paradigm, a common nomenclature or critical vocabulary within which we might accommodate the new novel" (p. 17). Having set the bar this low, Boxall succeeds in describing some pretty significant differences between what he calls "twenty-first-century literature" and postmodernism but ventures no further than that. There is a passing acknowledgment of metamodernism and performatism (p. 59) but no discussion. Chapters on "Literature and Historical Memory," "The Limits of the Human," "Terrorism, Radicalism, and the Avant-Garde" and "Democracy, Globalisation."

Crowther, PaulPhilosophy after Postmodernism: Civilized Values and the Scope of Knowledge. London 2003. 

  • A philosophical attempt to combine Norbert Elias’s theory of civilization with Ernst Cassirer‘s neo-Kantian epistemology (both thought systems existed well before postmodernism) in order to overcome the social philosophy of postmodernism (Derrida, Lacan/Žižek, Bourdieu). No discussion of cultural history in the usual sense of the term.

Faye, Jan. After Postmodernism. A Naturalistic Reconstruction of the Hu­ma­nities. London 2012. 

  • A philosophical attempt to define the human sciences anew using traditional hermeneutics; contemporary culture is not treated at all.

Feßler, Nadine. Being Struck by the Event. Literature and its Subjects after Postmodernism. München 2016. 

  • An original and stimulating approach to post-postmodern narrative that uses elements of performatism,  Jean-Luc Marion's phenomenology, and Georgio Agamben's concept of the homo sacer. Feßler's central concept is that of "captivation," which refers to the way post-postmodern literature empowers ostensibly weak subjects by constructing events that either "captivate" them in a phenomenological sense (Marion) or that make them captive literally (Agamben). Events are said to occur through framing (a performatist idea), which restricts fictional subjects but at the same time forces them to act in a positive and goal-oriented way. Analyses of David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, Ian McEwan's Atonement, Nicole Krauss's History of Love,  Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Anne Enright's The Gathering, and Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger. Feßler argues that these works are unequivocally post-postmodern.

Frie, Roger et al. (eds.).  Beyond Postmodernism. New Dimensions in Clinical Theory and Practice. London 2009. 

  • A collection of essays dealing with psychoanalysis and psychology after poststructuralism. Alongside cautious attempts to critique poststructuralism one finds contributions that are still strongly oriented towards it. No direct connection to literary criticism.  

Funk, Wolfgang. The Literature of Reconstruction. Authentic Fiction in the New Millennium. London 2015.

  • Funk wants to revive the modernist concept of authenticity for the study of post-postmodern literature by paradoxically hooking it up with the notion of metareference, which is by definition inauthentic. Books analyzed include Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Julian Barnes's England, England, Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. For a full discussion see Blog Post Nr. 7, "On Authenticity and Post-Postmodernism". 

Gans, Eric.  “The Post-Millennial Age,” Chronicles of Love and Resentment  Nr. 209, 3 Juni 2000 http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/views/vw209.htm; “Post-Millennial Thoughts," Chronicles of Love and Resentment  Nr. 253: 22 December  2001 

http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/views/vw253.htm

  • Gans’s concept of "post-millennialism” was one of the very first attempts to name post-postmodernism, however he never developed the concept further in a systematic way. For the neo-conservative Gans post-millennialism means the end of “victi­mary politics,” whereby a left-wing postmodern victimary attitude is replaced by a conciliatory “non-victimary dialogue” with a right-wing tilt. In American politics it’s hard to see where this has taken place

Haselstein, Ulla et al. (eds.). The Pathos of Authenticity. American Passions of the Real. Hei­delberg 2010

  • A collection of essays addressing the newly arisen, rather unpostmodern turn towards authenticity in American literature. In keeping with the unwritten tenets of posthistoricism, the editors see in this development a “revision of postmodernism” (p. 19) rather than a distinctly new stage of literary development. Accordingly, none of the contributions contains any concept of post-postmodernism. 

Hickman, Larry. Pragmatism as Post-PostmodernismNew York 2007.

  • Philosophical attempt to promote pragmatist philosophy (which arose around 1900) as an alternative to the philosophy of postmodernism; no treatment of contemporary cultural developments.

Hoberek, Andrew (ed.). Twentieth Century Literature 3 (2007). “After Postmodernism: Form and History in Contemporary American Fiction.”

  •  Seven very cautious attempts to move beyond postmodernism. The authors are aware that the classical narrative strategies of postmodernism don’t work anymore but are unfortunately unable to conceive of anything that could possibly replace them. Articles on Karen Tei Yama­shita’s Tropic of Orange, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, David Foster Wallace, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Paul Auster's movies as well as distinctly postmodern authors like Roth and Delillo. Typical of the normative resistance to post-postmodernism is Samuel Cohen's article on Jeffrey Eugenides' novel Middlesex. Cohen says the book "fails" because it "imposes a false closure" on the story of its hermaphroditic protagonist's gender crisis (p. 371). Since closure is one of the main narrative strategies of post-postmodernism, it's hard to see how Cohen will ever be able to get past postmodernism himself. 

Hoberek, Andrew. “Introduction: After Postmodernism,” Twentieth Century Literature 3 (2007), 233-247. 

  • Gives an overview of the articles collected in the Twentieth Century Lite­ra­ture special issue “After Postmodernism: Form and His­tory in Contemporary American Fiction.” (See above.) Hoberek’s cautious, eminently posthistorical conclusion: “American fiction has entered a phase of as-yet uncategorized diversity” (p. 240).  For more see Post Nr. 1 in the Blog, "The Misery of Posthistoricism."

Holland, Mary K. Succeeding Postmodernism: Language and Humanism in Contemporary American Literature. New York 2013.

  • A cautious (and contradictory) posthistorical attempt to address the issue of post-postmodernism without giving up poststructuralist methodology. Hence "the literature we are seeing in the nascent twenty-first century is still postmodern, rather than something wholly beyond postmodernism." The focus is on the resurgence of "empathy, presence, and connection via poststructural language" and on the return of humanism. For more on this see Post Nr. 4 in the Blog, "Theory Smackdown."

Hron, Irina (ed.). Einheitsdenken. Figuren von Ganzheit, Präsenz und Transzendenz nach der Postmoderne. Nordhausen 2015.

  • Collection of essays (mostly in German) from a conference I organized together with the editor in 2010. Articles on Daniel Kehlmann (Leonhard Herrmann), Bernard Carvalho (Jobst Welge), Haneke's movie The White Band (Nadine Feßler), Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia (Irina Schulzki) as well as on contemporary Polish prose (Dorota Patrzałek) and transgender constructions in European fiction (Yuan Xue). Also an article by myself on the photographer Alina Kisina (in German). All authors are committed conceptually in one way or another to moving past postmodernism.

Huber, Irmtraud. Literature after Postmodernism: Reconstructive Fantasies. London 2014. 

  • In spite of the title's "re-" a good, open-minded critical discussion of existing theories of post-postmodernism accompanied by astute analyses of works by Michael Chabon, Mark Z. Danielewski, Jonathan Safran Foer and David Mitchell. The author, who wants to foreground the “renegotiation of the communicative bond between author/narrator and reader,” seems willing to move beyond poststructuralism both in theory and practice but otherwise remains cautious: "[this study] does not posit a radical break with postmodernism" (p. 45). There is a very good and even-handed discussion of competing notions of post-postmodernism in Chapter 1, pp. 21-50. For more on this see Post Nr. 4 in the Blog, "Theory Smackdown."

Kirby, Alan. Digimodernism. How New Technologies Dismantle the Post­modern and Reconfigure our Culture. New York 2009.

  • A sweepingly argued socio-cultural definition of post-postmodernism emphasizing the role of media. Kirby assumes that digitization leads to "new forms of textuality“ (p. 1) that allows users to intervene in text production (examples being Wikipedia, reality TV, videogames etc.) The focus is mainly on digitized pop culture, which in Kirby’s pessimistic vision is displacing high culture and leads to the “death of competency“ (p. 241). One of the few authors who unequivocally try to define a shift to the post-postmodern. Analyzes many concrete works of digital culture. Lively argumentation. 

Lipovetsky, Gilles. Hypermodern Times. Cambridge (UK) 2005. 

  • A sociologically oriented, highly speculative essay that tries to describe our socio-cultural condition using the prefix “hyper-”. According to Lipovetsky, hypermodern society is oriented towards extreme consumer consumption and hedonism and is marked by an accelerated perception of time; rapid changes in technology and science have an unsettling effect on its members. This definition bears a suspicious resemblance to current notions of postmodernism. One original point Lipovetsky makes is that “individual sovereignty” (p. 67) has become important as a reaction to this development (something that is not normally thought to be an aspect of postmodernism). The book addresses society but not culture in the narrow sense of the word.  

MagShamhráin, Rachel (ed.). Germanistik in Ireland. Special Issue. After Postmodernism / Nach der Postmoderne 6 (2011).

  • The contributors address the end of postmodernism (Kirby), the concept of “meta­modernism“ (Vermeulen and van den Akker) as well as individual works  of German literature (Lehr’s Fata Morgana, Rabino­vici’s Ohnehin, Ulf Zieger’s writings und Duve’s Anständig Essen.

Matthews, Graham.    Ethics and Desire in the Wake of Postmodernism. Contemporary Satire. London 2012. 

  • The author undertakes a “reappraisal of postmodernism and its effects” while not venturing far beyond the bounds of existing poststructuralist theories (e.g., Lacan); he does not attempt any binding definition of post-postmodernism. There is, however, an interesting application of Alain Badiou’s ethics to literature  (pp. 105-128) and there are detailed analyses of Ellis’s Lunar Park, Palah­niuk’s Fight Club, Houellebecq’s Platform, and Will Self’s Dorian.

Moraru, Christian. Cosmodernism. American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary. Ann Arbor 2011. 

  • “Cosmodernism” stands for a “weak epochality” (p. 314) that is strongly oriented towards postmodernism but  emphasizes“ethical relationality” as well as “the imaginary of globalized aesthetic relations” (p. 313). Cosmodernism arises mainly through the process of globalization unleashed by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and still "rel[ies] copiously on postmodern techniques" (p. 316). The book contains analyses of a wide range of contemporary American literary texts coupled with theoretical reflection on ethics and globalization. Oriented towards poststructuralist Levinasian ethics as well as the later work of Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy. For more on this see Post Nr. 4 in the Blog, "Theory Smackdown."

Moraru, Christian (ed.). "Focus: Metamodernism." American Book Review 4 (2013).

  • Issue of the ABR devoted to different concepts of post-postmodernism, with an introduction by Moraru ("Thirteen Ways of Passing Postmodernism") and with review articles by Tim Vermeulen, Robin van den Akker, Alison Gibbons, Mary K. Holland, Raoul Eshelman, Matthew Mullins, Alan Kirby and others. 

Nealon, Jeffrey. Post-Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism. Stanford 2012. 

  • A theoretically overloaded attempt to define post-postmodernism using Fredric Jameson’s famous article “The Cul­tural Logic of Late Capitalism” as a jumping-off point. Nealon thinks that post-postmodernism is an“intensification” of postmodernism (which in turn is an “intensification” of modernism, p. 8). Since everything is an “intensification” of everything else there obviously isn’t much point developing any new concepts or a new historical perspective. The first part of the book consists of sweeping discussions of cultural and economic developments in the US; the second is made up of critical discussions of a mixed bag of philosophers and cultural critics (Adorno, Hardt and Negri, Derrida, Badiou, Jameson and others). Unlike his model Jameson, the author doesn’t bother to analyze any individual works of literature or art. Considering that the author is inspired by Marxist cultural criticism, his posthistorical conclusion is remarkably conservative: “(…) it’s hard to understand today as anything other than an intensified version of yesterday” (p. 8).

Post-postmodernism (Wikipedia entry)     

  •  This site offers some rough orientation but has not been updated for a very long time (disclosure: I wrote most of it in 2007/2008 under the pseudonym Hastrman {a Czech water ghoul} but haven’t touched it since then). The version that I last saw on 12 February 2016 is pretty much the same as my original contribution, with a paragraph or two on metamodernism that was added on later. (The paragraph on performatism was deleted by another editor who was of the opinion that it had nothing to do with post-postmodernism.) The present editors spend a great deal of time deleting spam.    

Rudrum, David and Stavros, Nicholas (eds.). Supplanting the Postmodern. An Anthology of Writings on the Arts and Culture of the Early 21st Century. New York 2015.

  • The first anthology devoted to post-postmodernism. Contains mostly emendated versions of programmatic articles by many of the authors listed here, including Bourriaud, Eshelman, Hassan, Kirby, Lipovetsky, Nealon, Samuels, Vermeulen and van den Akker and others.

Samuels, Robert. New Media, Cultural Studies, and Critical Theory After Post­modernism: Automodernity from Zizek to Laclau (Educa­tion, Psycho­analysis, and Social Transformation). New York 2009. 

  • A socio-political study dealing only incidentally with culture in the narrow sense of the word (there are analyses of Jurassic Park and The Matrix, which in my book are not exactly post-postmodern). To describe the post-postmodern situation the author coins the term “auto­­mo­dernity,” which he defines as a “libertarian backlash against the post­modern welfare state” (p. 4). Representatives of this new direction include the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson (an influential theorist of postmodernism) and the Marxist-influenced psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek (a follower of Jacques Lacan and someone normally associated with postmodernism). Samuels also points out the interrelationship between unregulated social systems and autonomous, hedonistic individuals who allow themselves to be distracted from “social reason” through video games and other media phenomena. (p. 127) Basically, Samuels thinks postmodernism is socially and politically progressive whereas automodernism isn’t. Samuels’ book is the explicit expression of an attitude held tacitly by many academics, namely that because postmodernism and poststructuralism are critical and progressive anything coming after them must be uncritical and reactionary.     

Stierstorfer, Klaus (ed.). Beyond Postmodernism. Reassessments in Literature, Theory, and Culture. Berlin 2003. 

  • This early collection of essays must have set some sort of record for off-topic contributions. About half the authors flatly refused to address the issue of post-postmodernism at all; only the section “Be­yond Postmo­dernism” (pp. 197-318) contains (very tentative) articles suggesting that there is indeed something "beyond." Most notable are the contributions by Ihab Hassan, one of the pioneers of postmodernist criticism in America, and Vera Nünning. 

Timmer, Nicoline. Do You Feel it Too? The Post-Postmodern Syndrome in Ameri­can Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium. Amsterdam 2010. 

  • A stimulating study based on concrete text analysis that defines the "post-postmodern syndrome" in terms of a new orientation towards “being human”; detailed analyses of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest,  Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Mark Danielewski House of Leaves. For a useful summary of Timmer's findings check out the Appendix listing features of the post-postmodern novel, pp. 359-361. Definitely a step forward in the overall discussion. For more on this see Post Nr. 4 in the Blog, "Theory Smackdown."

Vaessens, Thomas (ed.). Reconsidering the Postmodern. European Literature beyond Relativism. Amsterdam 2011. 

  • Individual articles on all European literatures as well as American and Spanish-language literatures that consider the possibility of a “late postmodernism” and a possible “something after.” The emphasis is however exclusively on “late postmodernism” – none of the authors is willing to commit themselves to a definition of post-postmodernism. Most of the contributions are too short to provide a true overview of the national literatures in question, and the quality of the articles is uneven. The contributions on “new sincerity“ in Russian literature (Rutten) und on Foer/Wal­lace/Eggers in American literature (Dulk) address important issues in the new cultural development and are of some use. The article on Polish literature (Neu­kierken) discusses authors (Miłosz und Herbert) whose relationship to postmodernism is more or less nonexistent to begin with.

van den Akker, Robin und Vermeulen, Tim.  Notes on Metamodernism. <www.metamodernism.com>; see also theirNotes on Metamodernism,” Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, 2 (2010).

  • A well-kept blog that became an internet journal, metamodernism.com tries to analyze post-postmodernism in all realms of culture. According to the original manifesto metamodernism is a “structure of feeling” that evokes an “oscillation” between “modern sincerity and postmodern irony.” The authors and their many co-contributors document this oscillation in a wide array of areas (architecture, fashion, theory, art, literature, TV etc.) without for the most part attempting to develop concepts of their own; existing modern and postmodern concepts and practices are made to oscillate according to the particular context. Very close in sensibility (though not in methodology) to performatism. A book on metamodernism is in the worksFor more on this see Post Nr. 4 in the Blog, "Theory Smackdown."