Postmodernism: Very Short Introduction by Christopher Butler

Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction

Postmodernism: Very Short Introduction by Christopher Butler is a book that explores the key ideas of postmodernists and their engagement with theory, literature, the visual arts, film, architecture, and music.

The book challenges and explores the concept of postmodernism, which is a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.

The central message of postmodernism is that it rejects concepts of rationality, objectivity, and universal truth. Instead, it emphasizes the diversity of human experience and multiplicity of perspectives.

Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. It questions the ideas and values associated with modernism, which believes in progress and innovation.

In this book, Butler examines the rise of postmodernism, its new ways of seeing the world, politics and identity, the culture of postmodernism, and the ‘postmodern condition’.

He also looks at the use of metafiction, unreliable narration, self-reflexivity, intertextuality, and thematizes both historical and political issues in postmodern literature.

What I Liked

This book is a Very Short Introduction – one of my favorite series of books in the world (only behind DK’s Eyewitness books that do something similar for kids), so I love everything about it.

But for specifics – this book takes on one of the most ridiculously misunderstood, pilloried, and made-into-a-straw-man philosophical movements. The book does an incredible job taking a huge, diverse, complicated movement and making it understandable, putting it in context, and sorting the useful ideas from the dumb ideas in the movement.

I especially appreciated the chapters on how postmodernism has affected criticism in books, music, and film. The concrete examples made the topic much more useful and approachable.

What I Did Not Like

Unfortunately, postmodernism is such a broad topic that even a Very Short Introduction has to use some jargon to even start with the topic. I had to use Wikipedia quite a bit while reading it.

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