資料彙整   /  概念  /  後現代主義主要概念:0.Introduction (English)


What is postmodernism? 

Postmodernism and Postmodernity 

Different Stages and Different Fields

The Postmodern Debate

Examples for discussion  (fju)

   Events related to American, Chinese/Taiwanese Postmodernity and Postmodernism: An Unfinished Chronicle

I. A Distinction of the terms: Postmodernism and Postmodernity 

Generally, Postmodernity refers to the socio-political conditions of postwar/contemporary period ("new forms of social, political and economic arrangement; new mode of thinking" Connor) and postmodernism refers to the cultures produced under those conditions.  Just as the two terms are controversial and variously defined, the relations between the two also vary from one cultural field (e.g. music industry and literature) to another (See examples of definitions).


II. General Characteristics of Postmodernism

  • As "intellectual/political movement"
    1. "post" - Modernity/Modernism:
      post =
      • after and because of (Hutcheon)
      • "taking leave of" (Vattimore) beyond
      • the future (post) anterior (modo)(Lyotard)
      • 'after' just now--or sometimes beyond, contra, above, ultra, meta, out-side-of (Jencks) 
        (see quotes)
    2. constructionism
    3. anti-foundationalism (de-totalization)
    4. de-centering, boundary-crossing
    5. depthlessness
    (Mcrobbie p. 2-5) "At that time there were two approaches to postmodernism, each of which raised important questions for sociologists.  From architecture to fine art, from remakes of B movies to the cinema of David Lynch, from Talking Heads to Laurie Anderson, what was becoming increasingly apparent was indeed a concern with surface, with meaning being paraded as an intentionally superficial phenomenon (what Jameson labeled 'waning in affect' or depthlessness).  Not only was meaning in art or in culture all there, for all to see, stripped of its old hidden elitist difficulty, but it also, again as Jameson pointed out, seemed already familiar, like the faint memory of an old pop song, a refrain, a chorus, a tune, a 'cover version' of an original which never was.  (e.g. Jameson
    The second way
    of looking at postmodernism back in the 1980s was to consider it as an anti-foundationalist form of anti-social theory--that is, a form of criticism which interrogated and exposed the (cruel) foundations upon which modern social thought had been based.  This approach, which became more familiar in the late 1980s, suggested that there could no longer be one theory of society, no one 'big picture'.  At best there were a number of snapshots of the same view, each aware of the limits of its own field of vision.  Here, too, we detect a playfulness, a disrespect for the meta-narratives of history, a refusal to play the game of philosophy and a desire instead to enjoy a willful breaking of the rules in favour of epithet, contingency, discontinuity.  (e.g. Lyotard, Baudrillard)" 
  • As style: uncertainties (undecidability); exhaustion--replenishment; parody (pastiche); self-reflexiveness; double-ness, eclecticism; crisis in representation.


III. Different Stages and Different Fields

(H. Bertens  on postmodernisms from his "Introduction")

    1)" a complex anti-modernist artistic strategies which emerged in the 1950s and developd momentum in the course of the 1960's. 
      e.g.--architecture; For Robert Venturi, ...Charles Jencks and other theorists, modernist architecture is the purist self-referential architecture of the Bauhaus .. .and of the corporate architecture of the postwar international style.  Postmodern architecture turns away from this self-absorbed and technocratic purism and turns to the vernacular and to history, thus reintroducing the humanizing narrative element that had been banned... 

      e.g. -for many of the American literary critics that bring the term postmodernism into circulation in the 1960's and early 1970's, postmodernism is the move away from narrative, from representation..  a move toward radical aesthetic autonomy, towards pure formalism 

      e.g. photography--anti-representational, anti-narrative, deconstructionist photography"

(S. Connor)
    "two strands: 
    1) it embraced the enlarged condition of possibility apparently released by the fading of modernism--critical pluralist 
    2) attempts to go beyond modernism by revealing the inability within it --oppositional, exploratory" 

    two extremes-- 
    anti-representational --------------------representational and narrative 

    two attitudes 
    positive--Charles Jencks, 
    negative--Jameson, Baudrillard 

    1960--the avant-garde attacj ib art-as-institution is broadened and raised to socio-political level. 
    1970--postmodernism was gradually drawn into a poststructuralist orbit. 

    Like poststructuralism, this postmodernism rejects the empirical idea that language can represent reality, that the world is accessible to us because its objects are mirrored in the language that we use. 
    --two moments within this poststructuralist postmodernism 

      1)the later 1970s and the early 1980s, derives from Barthes and Derrida and is linguistic, that is, textual, in its orientation. 
      2) the other moment. . . derives from Foucault and, to a lesser extent, Lacan. It belongs to the 1980s rather than the 1970s, although it is difficult to pinpoint its appearance.  Like the early deconstructionist postmodernism, this later poststructuralist postmodernism assumes a reality of textuality and signs, of representations that do not represent.  Here, however, the emphasis is on the workings of power, and the constitution of the subject.
    . . . This postmodernism interrogates the power that is inherent in the discourses that surround us--and that is continually reproduced by them--and interrogates the institutions that support those discourses and are, in turn, supported by them.  against the hegemony of any single discursive system . . . in its advocacy of difference, pluriformity, and multiplicity.  (e.g. liberal humanism)" 


IV. The Postmodern Debate




    Subversive of mainstream systems; Empowering the margins

    Apolitical, complicitous, imperialistic

    Anti-foundationalism, Pluralism Skepticism, Relativism
    Boundary-breaking Overall commodification, lack of critical distance; 
    Constructing subjectivity Death of the subject
    Parody Pastiche, kitsch



Events related to Chinese/Taiwanese Modernity and Postmodernity: An Unfinished Chronicle

What makes Taiwan's postmodernism different from the U.S.'s?
  • its position as a Third-World nation with the experience of multiple colonization
  • its experience of war and unfinished national movements
China/Taiwan's "modernization": interrupted by wars and dominated by the issues of national movements (even till now).
U.S. and the World
1914 -

1st World War
Rep. of China  
May 4 movement--Anti-Tradition
the civil wars 
Japanese occupation
2nd World War
1945--the explosion of an atomic bomb over Hiroshima in Japan
the 50's
  • U.S. 50's--postwar prosperity and conservatism; the US as the world power
    1960 The U.S. GNP 33% of the world's, and Japan, 3%
  • 1949 KMT came to Taiwan
    1950 Martial Law
    1955 American Army in Taiwan.
    American Force Network Taiwan 美軍電台 (re-named International Community Radio Taipei in 1979--ICRT) 
  • the cold war between the U.S. and Russia
  • fear of nuclear annihilation culminating in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962
    Taiwanese Modernization and Postmodernization



    Taiwan: National Events

    Cultural Events
    the 60's 
    idealism and various kinds of rebellion
    the 70's 
    70's and 80's--gradual return to conservatism  
     --the rise of minorities' voices 
  • -the civil rights movement
  • the assassination of JFK (Nov, 1963)
  • The Feminist Mystique 1963
  • 360s computer (3rd generation computer) by IBM 1965
  • the assassination of Robert K. and Martin Luther King(1968)
    Vietnam war (1965-1975?)  
  • the killing of four students by the National Guard at Kent State Univ. (1970)
  • the resignation of Nixon (1974) 
  • 1960 橫貫公路通車
    1963 pg 業生產總額超過農業

    1964  The first highway (北基)









    1971  退出聯合國;釣魚台事件





    1973  Ten Major Constructions

      I. Western (U.S.) popular music 
    • 1965 Two radio programs:  
      PD> ar Music 熱門音樂Songs of Youth青春之歌 
      • Dominant: Shanghaiese songs in the 50's, and Taiwanese love songs since mid 60's  
      • Subculture:Japanese_Taiwanese songs since 50's,
      • 1962 Emerging: Taiwan TV company 
      • 1963  瓊瑤窗外

      II. Literary movements 
    • 1953 Modern Poetry Club現代詩社
    • 1960 Modern Literature magazine 現代文學雜誌;
    • 1964 吳濁流 Wu Chuo-liou's Taiwanese Literature magazine, 台灣文藝 
    • 1970's realist/nativist novels 鄉土文學

    •  1975  Yang Hsuan: Modern Chinese Folksong Concert, making songs with the poet Yu Kwang-chung's poems as lyrics楊弦中國現代民歌
    • 1976 Li Shuang-tse's question, "Where are our songs?" in Western Folksong Concert in Tamkang Univ.
    • 1976 Folk painter Hong Tong's 1st exhibit  洪通
    • 1975 Photocopying machine started to be popular.
    1975  The Fall of Saigon President Chiang Kai-shek died
    Twelve Major Constructions started.  12大建設
    • The debate on "Native Taiwanese Literature" 鄉土文學論戰
  • The U.S. government established diplomatic relationship with mainland China
  • 1st test-tube baby
  • economic growth rate 14%; Export growth rate 35.7%
  • Chiang Ching-huo elected president.
    • Separated monthly and yearly top-10 charts for Taiwanese song from those of Western pop music in radio program "Popular Music" ( 熱門音樂)?/font>? 
    • Folk Wind album (1978-1981)民謠風
  • 7-eleven introduced to Taiwan.
  • Beautiful Island Event. 美麗島事件
  • The U.S./ Taiwan broke diplomatic relationship.
    • Sing Our Own SongConcert 唱我們的歌演唱會
    • "The Descendants of the Dragon"龍的傳人 got popular
    • "Beautiful Island" & "Youth China" did not pass Information Bureau's censorship.
    • New Taiwanese Song Chart (a larger scale) 
    • Taiwan New Cinema
    Reagan administration 
  • Chiang re-elected chair of KMT
  • The mysterious death of Chen wen-cheng.
    • Golden Melody Award Stopped. (1977-1981)
    • Personal computer started to be popular.
      Taiwan became a supplier of computers.
    • Singer Ho Te-chien 侯德健  went to mainland China 
    • Two singers (Lo Ta-yu and Su Rui) successfully put forth albums which had a thematic unity.
    "We Are the World" album Taiwan:  
    • the investment of MacDonald's 
    • Music videos started to be popular.
    • The first AIDS patient in Taiwan. 
    • "Tomorrow Will Be Better" 明天會更好album, which sold 100,000 copies in a week.
    • Anti-pirating committee 
    • Imitation was prevalent, when the music industry ran short of producers and composers.
    • 夏宇 備忘錄
  • Service Industry population: Industry = 41.5% 41.47  
  • KMT launched Six Reformation 六大改革
    • The introduction of Hong Kongese singers.
    • 舊情綿綿咖啡廳
    • 暗戀桃花源
    • The rise and fall of stocks in stock market.
  • the lifting of Martial Law (7/15) 
  • the lifting of newspaper restrictions 報禁
  • Cross-strait relative visit 探親allowed.
    • Another voice: Anti-pirating concert 
    • Hassan and Jameson came to Taiwan.
  • the death of Chiang Ching-kuo
  • Lo Ta-yu 羅大佑 establish Music Factory in Hong Kong.  

    Tina Turner's & Stevie Wonder's concerts. 

  • Taiwan: The film City of Sadness won Cannes' Golden Lion.
    • Campus folksongs were renewed and sung again.
    • Taiwanese rock band, Black List Workshop.
    • Little Tiger, the first teenagers' idol singers.小虎隊
    • Mainland Chinese Singer Cui Chien's 崔健 album was published in Taiwan, which lead to more musical exchanges across the strait.
    The unification of East and West Germany
  • Taiwan: Marx's work was legally published in Taiwan.


    • KTV started to be popular. 
    • Information Bureau stopped censoring music broadcast in media.
    • Tower Records in Taiwan.
    • The promotion of idol singers. 
    • Hakka band, New Formosa band. 新寶島康樂隊
    • Chinese-American band, L.A. Boyz.
    • Saliva Songs (renewed old songs) takes greater percentage in the yearly production.口水歌 
    • Taiwanese rapper, Pig's Head's first album.  豬頭皮
    • The 20th year of Taiwanese Folksong: concert, seminars, election of the 200 folksongs.


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