SoSe 15: New Sincerity: American Literature After Postmodernism?
The idea that postmodernism has ended has been around since the 1990s. In the past decade, however, the argument has gained force, resulting in what one critic calls a "sudden burst of 'after ... read more
The idea that postmodernism has ended has been around since the 1990s. In the past decade, however, the argument has gained force, resulting in what one critic calls a "sudden burst of 'after postmodernism' criticism" (Holland, 2010). The aim of this class will be to examine this claim that postmodernism is over. We will ask what postmodern 'was,' scrutinize the problem of periodization, and read critical texts on what has variously been termed 'post-postmodernism,' 'metamodernism,' and 'New Sincerity.' Particularly the idea that American millennial fiction is concerned with a return to 'sincerity' will be a productive lens for our analysis of the cultural push 'beyond' postmodernism. The revival of sincerity brings renewed urgency to questions of (lacking) emotional engagement and the (lacking) referentiality of language in postmodernism. The concept of sincerity also raises questions about ethics and community, and the relationship between commodification and subjectivity, questions which were considered either settled or foreclosed by the postmodern emphasis on irony, reflexivity, surfaces, and simulacra. In reading stories and novels by David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Junot Díaz, and Jennifer Egan, we will examine how writers take up and reconsider these questions. We will analyze how a striving toward sincerity is reflected in their themes and stylistic experiments, and we will ask what socio-historical conditions underlie the (re)turn to sincerity at the present moment. close