Postmodernity and Postmodernism: Barth, Pynchon, DeLillo, Murakami and World Cinema
Last Updated: 11/14/2007
Faculty: Harumi Moruzzi cultural studies, film studies, literature
Major areas of study include literature, cultural studies, contemporary philosophy, sociology and film studies.
Class Standing: Sophomores or above; transfer students welcome.
For the West and Japan, the 19th century was a heady century that embraced the utopian notion of perfectibility of human society through science and technology. However, by the beginning of the 20th century this giddy sense of human perfectibility was severely diminished by various iconoclastic ideas, such as Freudian psychoanalytical theory, Einstein's theory of relativity and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. A sense of confusion, anarchy and dread expressed in various art works in the first decade or so of the 20th century is strikingly similar to that of our time, which suffers perhaps a more radical and real disillusionment regarding humanity and its future through its experience of the Nazi holocaust and the atomic bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our time, at the dawn of the 21st century, is generally and vaguely called the postmodern time or postmodernity. But what is postmodernity? What is postmodernism?
In this program we will examine, through lectures, book and essay seminars, films, film seminars and a workshop, the state of our contemporary world, postmodernity, as manifested in the literary works of John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo and Haruki Murakami, as well as in films directed by Godard, Lynch, and other contemporary filmmakers. We will also explore the significance and implications of such literary and cinematic works through the various theoretical works of Baudrillard, Foucault, Lyotard, Jameson, Habermas, and the like. Students are expected to respond in writing to each of the required readings, in order to facilitate a productive seminar, and to each of the films that we view and discuss, in order to develop reflective thoughts. Students are also expected to write a few formal expository essays during the quarter and one final synthesis paper at the end of the quarter.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Special Expenses: Up to $40 for a possible field trip.
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in literature, cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, and film studies.
Planning Units: Culture, Text and Language