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Postmodern Literature

Postmodern Literature. Minimalist Overview. Identification. Post WWII Weird Fragmented Unexplained Haunting, unresolved issues Unreliable Narrative Literature avoids “escape” and “purpose” “Losers” High/Low—art vs. popular culture Maximalist/Minimalist. Origins. ??? Who cares ???

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Postmodern Literature

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  1. Postmodern Literature Minimalist Overview

  2. Identification • Post WWII • Weird • Fragmented • Unexplained • Haunting, unresolved issues • Unreliable Narrative • Literature avoids “escape” and “purpose” • “Losers” • High/Low—art vs. popular culture • Maximalist/Minimalist

  3. Origins • ??? Who cares ??? • Modernism—everything fits into neat boxes and makes sense. • Horrors of WWII • Post-Colonialism • Cold War • Civil rights movement • Rise of the computer

  4. Playfulness/Black Humor • Mike Fallopian/KCUF—The Crying of Lot 49 • Dresden—Slaughterhouse Five • Hitler Studies—White Noise • Civil War Theme Park—CivilWarLand In Bad Decline • Serial Killer—American Psycho

  5. Intertextuality • East of Eden—story of Genesis set in California • Ulysses—Homer’s Odyssey set in Dublin • A Thousand Acres—King Lear set in Iowa • Going After Cacciato—Alice in Wonderland set in Vietnam/France • Lunar Park—Fictional character from American Psycho terrorizes real author in later work of fiction.

  6. Pastiche • Hodge-podge, jumble, “a pie made from different ingredients” • Science fiction/detective/westerns—William S. Burroughs • Science fiction/fairy tales—Margaret Atwood • Noir detective/romance/travel guides—Derek Pell • Anti-war/science fiction—Kurt Vonnegut • Spy/Punk/science fiction—William Gibson

  7. Metafiction • “foregrounding the apparatus” • A novel about a writer creating a story • A novel about a reader reading a story • A novel which features itself as its own prop • A novel or other work of fiction within the novel • A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots. • Narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story • A novel in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader • Narrative footnotes, which continue the story while commenting on it • A novel in which the characters are aware that they are in a novel

  8. Magic Realism • Party with intoxicated talking circus animals—Wearing Dad’s Head • Abraham Lincoln shows up and hangs out—The Evil BB Chow • Woman is too beautiful and while folding laundry flies up into sky and disappears—100 Years of Solitude • Woman starts on fire while showering, dispatches purple “sex mist” which attracts soldier who picks her up while on horseback (nude)—Like Water for Chocolate • Dead baseball players walk out of corn and JD Salinger actually talks to someone--Shoeless Joe/Field of Dreams

  9. Time Distortion • The Swimmer • Going After Cacciato • Mezzanine • Slaughterhouse Five • Chronicle of a Death Foretold

  10. Paranoia • Narrator (Bret Easton Ellis) is terrorized not only by a fictional character he believes is following him, but also by his students, by other authors he was friends with, and by drugs—Lunar Park • Characters are gripped by paranoia about death, chemical spills, new drugs, neighbors, the weird guy in the hunting jacket, their health—White Noise

  11. White Noise excerpt Babettesaid, "Where is Wilder?" and turned to stare at me in a way that suggested ten minutes had passed since she'd last seen him. Other looks, less pensive and less guilty, indicated greater time spans, deeper seas of inattention. Like: "I didn't know whales were mammals." The greater the time span, the blanker the look, the more dangerous the situation. It was as if guilt were a luxury she allowed herself only when the danger was minimal.    "How could he get out of the cart without my noticing?"    The three adults each stood at the head of an aisle and peered into the traffic of carts and gliding bodies. Then we did three more aisles, heads set forward, weaving slightly as we changed our sightlines. I kept seeing colored spots off to the right but when I turned there was nothing there. I'd been seeing colored spots for years but never so many, so gaily animated. Murray saw Wilder in another woman's cart. The woman waved at Babette and headed toward us. She lived on our street with a teenage daughter and an Asian baby, Chun Duc. Everyone referred to the baby by name, almost in a tone of proud proprietorship, but no one knew who Chun belonged to or where he or she had come from.    "Kleenex Softique, Kleenex Softique."

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