• Jeremy Green


Late postmodernism? Isn’t such a coinage patently absurd? After all, postmodernism is by definition a term of belatedness: whatever else it signifies, the word refers primarily to the cultural moment or movement that comes after modernism, either succeeding or superseding the earlier formation. To add the modifier “late” suggests that postmodernism, which sprang out of modernism or wiped it from the map, has now entered a phase of decadence and decline, a state that foreshadows, in its turn, a new condition of belatedness. What comes after postmodernism? Post-postmodernism? At this point the preposterous and dizzying prospect of an infinite series opens up before the theorist, and all descriptions of the contemporary cultural moment can be considered as measures of a greater or lesser degree of belatedness. Nonetheless, the gesture is useful if it signals that we are no longer postmodern in quite the same way as when the concept was first set loose. Declarations of independence from modernism no longer seem bold or interesting, and we have surely grown entitled to our skepticism about the concept of postmodernism, after so many years, so much labor of definition and disavowal.


Public Sphere Book Club Cultural Memory Cultural Consensus Cultural Authority 
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    My use of the term “literary field” derives from the work of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who writes, “The literary field (one may also speak of the artistic field, the philosophical field, etc.) is an independent social universe with its own laws of functioning, its specific relations of force, its dominants and dominated, and so forth. Put another way, to speak of ‘field’ is to recall that literary works are produced in a particular social universe endowed with particular institutions and obeying specific laws,” “Field of Power, Literary Field and Habitus,” in Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature, ed. by Randal Johnson (New York: Columbia, 1993), p. 163.Google Scholar
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© Jeremy Green 2005

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  • Jeremy Green

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