Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beyond the Anti Aesthetic and into the bowl la toil-et

(Forget the Bauhaus, learn to speak Artspeak publicly without stumbling over any Big Words. Postmodernity, I have to pronounced as Post-mo-dernity, That’s it, that be it, me, me sitting here, King, King of the Art world)

Here it is boys and girls, the formula:

The History

The idea of postmodernism was first introduced in 1934 by the Spanish writer Federico De-Onis in his Antoloqia de la poesia espanola e hispanoamericana to describe a reaction within modernism. In 1938, the term postmodernism was used by Arnold Toynbee in his A Study of History. Toynbee identified postmodernism as the new historical cycle epitomized by the decline of Western capitalism and rise of Non-Western cultures and pluralism (Jencks, 1986 )

Ambivalence and Elasticity of Postmodernism

In discussing postmodern art education Clark (1996) sounds a cautionary note :In regard to the communicative elasticity and deliberate ambivalence associated with postmodernism. He emphasizes three main characteristics associated with the term. First, postmodernism is transitory : it suggests only what it is not rather than what it is or.Second, postmodernism is transcendent, which means that postmodernism is reflected in a variety of disciplines. It can be seen as a cross-disciplinary practice. There is a specialized terminology that demarcates a postmodern discourse (e.i., master narrative, simulacra, decentered subject,etc) and theoretical frameworks such as poststructuralism, deconstruction, reconstruction, and feminism.. Third, Clark sees postmodernism as transitional, which means that postmodern theories do not always depart from modernist principles (Clark, 1996) He points out that a feminist or postcolonial theorists may speak from the perspectives, that are modernist, postmodernist, or somewhere in-between” (Clark,1996,p.l).

Defining Postmodernism

Why do we need a clear definition of postmodernism in education? As a preliminary response to this question, the following paragraphs point to the variety of language and concepts covered under the umbrella term "postmodernism" In some sense, any attempt to define fully postmodernist, that is, to provide fixed explanations seems to be antithetical to its underlying premise that is, the nature of postmodernism is ultimately against totalization and fixed concepts (Usher & Edwards, 1993). The postmodern condition can be perceived as a "sensitivity to differences" or a ‘var on totality’. It is a period in which everything is delegitimized” (Jenks, 1986,p.10). It was modernism that was interested in definitions and descriptions of itself in order to underline its timeless ideals (Sarup,1993). In today’s education of artists, postmodernism is mainly discussed as a radical break from modernism and its formalist discourse.

The irony here is that in taking such a stance these advocates have made postmodernism as fixed and doctrinaire as the formalist approach to art once was. But education in a rapidly evolving world needs to remain flexible and open to discourse from a multitude of perspectives. If post modernism is be a credible and viable educational. influence, it too must be capable of flexibility. As Usher & Edwards ( 1994) state,

To talk about postmodernity, postmodernism or the postmodern is not therefore to designate some fixed and systematic “thing”. Rather, it is to use a loose umbrella term under whose broad cover can be encompassed at one and the same time a condition, a set of practices, a cultural discourse, an attitude and a mode of analysis (p.7).

Transcribed: A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts. Art, Study and teaching, Philosophy. Postmodernism and education, Aesthetics, Modern 20th century. McGill University Libraries, National Library of Canada. Download the pdf file

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