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The IPP Workshop Series

When May 18, 2016
from 02:00 to 04:00
Where Phil I, Building B, R.029
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 055
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Postmodernism| Daria Steiner 

Postmodernism Is Not What You Think: Overcoming Conceptual Anxieties

Postmodernism has always been one of the most controversial concepts not only in literary theory, but also in Cultural Studies and arts in general. Defined and questioned in multiple ways including numerous negative interpretations, the term lacks in transparency which often results in its overuse due to its seemingly simplistic appeal as it happened during the 1960s and up to the late 1990s when almost every cultural artifact was directly labeled as being postmodern. As a result, the term is often either associated with being too complex and transcendent, or eventually avoided by many academics as an artificially universal term to portray all cultural dynamics after modernism. The proposed workshop reflects on the necessity to critically question various readings of the term. This workshop’s main objective is thus to not only invite students to a discussion around current postmodern theories, but, more importantly, help them overcome anxieties towards the use of postmodernism as a concept in their own research. The workshop will be structured in two parts, theoretical and practical. The first part will feature a mini-lecture and a discussion of two key theoretical readings on postmodernism by Ihab Hassan. The results of this discussion will be applied in the second practical part during which the students will analyze narrative techniques in a postmodern short story and its video adaptation. The last conclusive discussion will stimulate insights into the application of the learnt material in students’ own research.

Workshop Preparatory Material

Preparation for this workshop suggests reading two theoretical texts by Ihab Hassan from his study The Postmodern Turn: Essays On Postmodern Theory and Culture, and a short story by Donald Barthelme, ''At the End of the Mechanical Age''.



  • Barthelme, Donald. ''At the End of the Mechanical Age.'' Sixty Stories. London: Penguin Classics, 2003. 267-274. Print.
  • Hassan, Ihab Habib. ''Pluralism in Postmodern Perspective.'' The Postmodern Turn: Essays On Postmodern Theory and Culture. Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1987. 167-190. Print.
  • - - -. ''Toward a Concept of Postmodernism.'' The Postmodern Turn: Essays On Postmodern Theory and Culture. Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1987. 84-98. Print.

*The title of this workshop echoes the title of Charles C. Lemert’s study and his controversial interpretation of the phenomenon of postmodernism. Although Lemert’s text is referred to, this workshop intends neither supporting his argumentation on the matter of postmodernism, nor ignoring all the variety of other crucial sources necessary to approach the concept. For more information, see Lemert, Charles C. Postmodernism Is Not What You Think. Malden, Mass. [u.a.]: Blackwell, 1997. 19-53. Print.

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