Discuss two or more media texts that you would define as postmodern and explain why you would give them this label.
Time and Space in Postmodern Cinema and Television:
this essay should focus on postmodernism media texts.
The often invoked concept of postmodernism appears to have become a generally applicable label to account for all phenomena in our current post-industrialised society that we are otherwise at a loss to explain. Some regard it as an anarchistic current and chaotic paradigm, whereas others believe it to be a manifestation of plurality and individual freedom. The geographer David Harvey makes the argument that time and space become less stable and comprehensible and more confused and incoherent because of the speed of modern mass communications, and the relative ease and rapidity with which people and information can travel. Postmodernism expresses these confusions and distortions and is, thus, less likely to reflect coherent senses of space or time.
This trilogy of lectures will introduce some of the most prominent theorists of postmodernism as well as their theories, which will be brought into consideration. Baudrillard, like other postmodernists, contends that everyday reality and media have become blurred. Individuals obtain what they experience as real knowledge about the real world from the media, but this is actually reproduced knowledge about an entirely simulated or reproduced world – the hyper real. We watch TV, where soap opera characters are depicted by the newspapers as real people and we can take a vacation in Las Vegas, where we can find Venetian canals and pyramids – images that are more real than the thing they are supposed to represent.
We will examine the postmodern paradigm at work, explores what the term ‘postmodern’ actually refers to and how it relates to a range of media texts. We will investigate how the themes of time and space are represented in postmodern works and look at examples of films and television series which deliberately set out to play with the viewer’s perceptions of reality, like Jam, the comedy sketches by Chris Morris or the reality TV show Big Brother. Films to be discussed will include Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire (Himmel über Berlin), Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run (Lola rennt) and John Crowley’s Intermission. Postmodern media rejects the distinction between high and low art. All judgements of value are merely personal taste. Therefore, anything can be art and deserves to reach an audience. With this in mind we will allow the cast of The Mighty Boosh to take us “on a journey through time and space”.
READING LIST FOR REFERENCES:
Harvey, D. (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (chapter 17: Time-space compression and the postmodern condition), Blackwell Publishers
Caldwell, D. and Rea, P. (1991) Handke’s and Wenders’s Wings of Desire: Transcending Postmodernism, The German Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 1, Focus: Literature and Film (Winter, 1991), pp.46-54
Gitlin, T. (1976) The Postmodern Predicament, The Wilson Quarterly (1976-), Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer, 1989), pp. 67-76
Jameson, F. (1982) Postmodernism and Consumer Society, essay presented at Whitney Museum Lecture, found at:
Lauer, A. (2003) Run Lola Run at the Dawn of Postmodernity, 1496-6603, February 1, 2003, Vol. 3, Issue 1
Olivier, B. (1992) Postmodern Cinema and Postmodern Culture: Information-Communication, Otherness and History in Wenders’sHimmelüber Berlin (Wings of Desire), ISSN 0258-2279 Literator 13
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