These readings are organized into four sections. The first explores the wellsprings of the debates in the relationship between the postmodern and the enterprise it both continues and contravenes: modernism. Here philosophers, social and political commentators, as well as cultural and literary analysts present controversial background essays on the complex history of postmodernism. The readings in the second section debate the possibility — or desirability — of trying to define the postmodern, given its cultural agenda of decentering, challenging, even undermining the guiding “master” narratives of Western culture. The readings in the third section explore postmodernism’s complicated complicity with these very narratives, while the fourth section moves from theory to practice in order to investigate, in a variety of fields, the common denominators of the postmodern condition in action.
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