V4 - Literature lesson 4: Postmodernism

Literature lesson 4: Postmodernism
1 / 19
Slide 1: Slide
EngelsMiddelbare schoolvwoLeerjaar 4

This lesson contains 19 slides, with interactive quiz and text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 30 min

Items in this lesson

Literature lesson 4: Postmodernism

Slide 1 - Slide

A reaction to a reaction?
  • Postmodernism is a reaction to the stylistic and ideological limitations of Modernist literature and the radical changes the world underwent after the end of World War II.
  • About depicting the world as having already undergone countless disasters and being beyond redemption or understanding. 
  • Awareness of the possibility of utter disaster and apocalypse on the horizon. 
  • The notion of locating meanings and reasons behind any event
    became seen as impossible.
  • Everything has already been done once before.
  • Seen in a mixture of genres and art forms from literature to art to film.

Slide 2 - Slide

  • Postmodern texts are usually written in clear, everyday language, but their structure can be quite complex.
  • Postmodern texts are often not linear (1 point to the next).
  • Postmodernism works by multiplication – multiple narrators, perspectives, or takes on the same story. This represents postmodern skepticism towards single, unitary, and totalizing narratives (which does not give room to a variety of social experiences).
  • Modern texts only refer to themselves, while postmodern texts refer both to themselves and the external world - we call this 'exteriority'. 

Slide 3 - Slide

Style and technique
Here are some examples of stylistic techniques that are often used in postmodern literature:

Pastiche: The taking of various ideas from previous writings and literary styles and pasting them together to make new styles.
Parody: Mimicking the style of another work, artist, or genre in an exaggerated way, usually for comic effect
Intertextuality: The acknowledgment of previous literary works within another literary work.
Metafiction: The act of writing about writing or making readers aware of the fictional nature of the very fiction they're reading.
Temporal Distortion: The use of non-linear timelines and narrative techniques in a story.
Minimalism: The use of characters and events which are decidedly common and non-exceptional characters.
Maximalism: Disorganized, lengthy, highly detailed writing.
Magical Realism: The introduction of impossible or unrealistic events into a narrative that is otherwise realistic.
Faction: The mixing of actual historical events with fictional events without clearly defining what is factual and what is fictional.
Reader Involvement: Often through direct address to the reader and the open acknowledgment of the fictional nature of the events being described.

Slide 4 - Slide

A pastiche is any work of art that imitates the style of another artist or artists. Pastiches are not meant to ridicule the original style in the way that a parody does; instead, a pastiche respects the original style and often pays some homage to it. 
In literature, a pastiche usually is a lighthearted imitation that is jocular while celebrating the original. Therefore, a pastiche is always an example of intertextuality, because the text cannot occur without the original that is being imitated.
A parody is an imitation of a writer, artist, subject, or genre in such a way as to make fun of or comment on the original work. Parodies are often exaggerated in the way they imitate the original in order to produce a humorous effect. While parodies are generally intended to amuse, they are not always comedic in nature and sometimes take on fairly serious subject matters. Parodies, whether in literature, art, music, or other forms, find something to ridicule within the original, whether lightly or harshly.

Slide 5 - Slide

Pastiche example:
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (1813) 
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters."

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies  -  Seth Grahame-Smith  (2009)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead."

Slide 6 - Slide

Intertextuality refers to the interdependence of texts in relation to one another (as well as to the culture at large). Texts can influence, derive from, parody, reference, quote, contrast with, build on, draw from, or even inspire each other. Intertextuality produces meaning. Knowledge does not exist in a vacuum, and neither does literature.

The literary canon is ever-growing. All writers read and are influenced by what they read, even if they write in a genre different than their favorite or most recent reading material. Authors are influenced cumulatively by what they've read, whether or not they explicitly show their influences in their writing or on their characters' sleeves.

Slide 7 - Slide

Parody example
“Weird Al” Yankovic is a musician who has made a career creating parodies of popular songs by changing the lyrics to humorous ones. Here is an example of lyrics by Pharrell for his song “Happy” followed by the parody lyrics by Weird Al in his song “Tacky”:
It might seem crazy what I am 'bout to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care, baby by the way

It might seem crazy, wearing stripes and plaid
I Instagram every meal I've had
All my used liquor bottles are on display
We can go to see a show but I'll make you pay
–Weird Al

Slide 8 - Slide

Star Wars vs Spaceballs
                                    Pastiche is common in popular culture. Even something as popular as Star 
                                     Wars is considered a pastiche of traditional science fiction tv and radio shows 
                                     of the 1930s and 1940s. It even blends the sci-fi with samurai and American 
                                     western styles to create something new.

                                    The fun thing that later on, Star Wars became so immensely 
                                    popular, it spawned its own parody called Spaceballs, which
mocked many of the concepts of the movie, turning the Force into the
Schwarz amongst other things. It has become a cult classic. 
Funny how things go, isn't it?

Slide 9 - Slide

Explain whether this is a
pastiche or parody.

Slide 10 - Open question

Pastiche vs parody

Slide 11 - Slide

Now that you know a little more about Postmodernism and intertextuality, do one of the following assignments for the next literature lesson:

  1. In this age of memes, parodies and pastiches are all over the Internet. Find an example of each and explain why they are either a parody or pastiche. Use 150-200 for your explanations.
  2. Think of a book, film, or series you've recently read/watched. How could you write/make a parody of it? How could you make a pastiche of it? Is the work itself already one of the two? Why/why not? Either create the parody/pastiche or write it out in 200-300 words.

Hand in your work via Magister - Opdrachten. You're work will not be shared
in class unless you have given permission to do so. Please note down if you
 don't want your work shared with the class.

Slide 12 - Slide


Slide 13 - Slide

Slide 14 - Slide

Slide 15 - Slide

Slide 16 - Slide

Slide 17 - Slide

Slide 18 - Slide

Slide 19 - Slide