Postmodernism: I’m just as confused as you

I’m planning to do my remediation project about the book “if on a winter’s night a traveller,” by Italo Calvino. I want to write a review, and explain to everyone why this kind of novel, and this kind of writing in general, is important, meaningful, interesting, and worth your time. I’ve read several pieces of writing in this same style before, but the problem was that I didn’t know how to categorize it. I love this kind of writing, but what kind of writing is it?

After a little investigation, I discovered that this novel is postmodern. Postmodernism is the school of thought that developed after (you guessed it) modernism. It stresses the importance of the act of writing, and it refutes the idea that there is a relationship between words and the objects that they describe, among other seemingly obscure ideas. So what does that mean? I don’t know. I’m researching to try and find that out.

So far, the best sources  have been in literary/scholarly journals. They’re difficult and dense, but that is hard to avoid when talking about such an abstract and confusing idea.

My goal right now is to get a good handle on what exactly postmodernism is, before I start researching Calvino and his specific book.

I found one article in particular, “Postmodern Theory” by Johnstone, in the journal Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, to be most appropriate for my project, because it took postmodernism and explained how it applied to literature, thematic concern by thematic concern.

It touched on recurring images, ideas, and structures in postmodern work, and as I read, I could see how exactly these concerns had been employed by Calvino in his novel. My next step will be to go back through the book and find these examples of postmodernism.

Additionally, I want to further research some of the abstract ideas mentioned in Johnstone’s article, such as “metafiction,” “authorial intrusion,” and the idea that writing does not represent consciousness.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to see how Calvino was influenced by postmodernism, and I’ll be able to define it more completely.


3 thoughts to “Postmodernism: I’m just as confused as you”

  1. Hey Emily!

    I’m really intrigued by your topic mainly because it seems like something I could never do. So, without someone else to learn about it and tell us about it I probably would never go out and try to figure this stuff out by myself.
    I hope you become an expert on Postmodernism and try to teach us what exactly it is. Was Salvador Dali and the melty clock painting postmodernist? Am I making that up? You don’t need to answer those questions.

  2. Great start Emily! I think it was very smart for you to begin your research by investigating postmodernism. Understanding what this is and being able to define it will be necessary for the remainder of your project. I have never heard of the writing style postmodernism before reading this post, and I look forward to reading your project to learn more about it. Once you find examples of postmodernism in Calvino’s novel, what do you plan to do with them?

  3. Emily,
    I can definitely see your love of english and writing by your choice of for the project. I too don’t really have a grasp of what postmodernism is, although I feel that I have heard this word numerous times in past english classes. I think the Johnstone article will be a great choice for seeking an explanation and I look forward to reading your analysis of it to further my own knowledge on the subject.
    I especially like how you not only are seeking meaning for postmodernism, but the fact that you are applying to it to an author’s work. I think this has the potential to be a great project and also allow you to continue to research different literary styles and apply different techniques. Great work so far, and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

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