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A Primer to Postmodernity 1st Edition

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-1577180609
ISBN-10: 1577180607
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Editorial Reviews


"The author has produced an international book 9with one or two excepted examples) which discusses the meaning of Citizen Kane and eventually ponders the question: Is Seinfeld post-modern? The answer to this question and many more are lucidly given in this book which is great fun to read. as a primer, readers are encouraged to start here and then go straight to the key thinkers: Natoli provides a list of all significant anthologies and works to date." Bookends 1998

" It is a fascinating text for a number of reasons. First of all, it's fun and innovative. Second, it is deceptive, a scholarly text posing as a funzine; examined closely, the discussion reveals itself to be crammed with information and central points of debate about postmodernism as a critical theory, as a cultural moment, and as epistemology." Amy J. Elias, University of Alabama, Birmingham

“Those of us who have been attempting to teach postmodernism to undergraduates have long felt the need for a truly introductory text: a text that isn’t something else (“theory’ in general), a text that is clearly intended for previously unexposed students rather than overexposed scholars, a text that doesn’t fail to explain postmodernity even while participating in its complexities. Joseph Natlaoi’s A Premier to Postmodernity fills this need admirably.” Calvin Thomas, University of Northern Iowa

“Natoli’s book delivers on its promise of being a ‘primer’ for students. This book is well written, its prose is accessible and engaging, generally free of arcane jargon. Students will warm up to the dialogue format and the references to popular culture and media forms.” Lawrence Hatab, Old Dominion University

“ Natoli’s A Primers to Postmodernity is accessible without being patronizing and positioned without pretending to neutrality. He obviously had fun writing some of these paradigmatic conversation sections and his enjoyment is contagious.” Victoria F. Harris, Illinois State University

From the Back Cover

A Primer to Postmodernity introduces the general reader to an emerging "postmodern" world order by giving us "just the facts" through contemporary cultural lenses. Using TV shows, political talk shows, radio call-in shows, and popular film as points of reference, the focus is not on postmodernism as a movement in art, architecture and literature, but on postmodernity as the most wide-ranging and provocative change in how we look at the world since the Enlightenment.

Natoli creates a postmodern environment in his text by incorporating starship Captain Becark and Commander Deja as our guides and interlocutors of the postmodern debate. they interrupt the text by asking questions where the reader might get stuck. They shift focus, counter arguments, deflate rhetoric, and add to the multi-voiced exposition of the Primer, dismantling anyone's hope of ever again providing the uninterrupted, monologic catechisms of modernity. This text performs postmodernity.

Before going to the primary readings of postmodern theorists, students and general readers should begin with A Primer to Postmodernity is inherently so hard to define.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (December 24, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577180607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577180609
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,132,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph P. Natoli's interest in crossing, and reinventing, disciplinary boundaries comes forth in Psychological Perspectives on Literature: Freudian Dissidents and Non-Freudians; A Casebook. Applying the insights of Freudian analysis to literature is an old game, this collection of essays by twelve academics seeks to push the boundaries a bit, with each author offering a different psychological perspective and applying it to a particular book or two. "On the whole, I derived more pleasure from the comparatively lucid accounts of individual psychologies than from their sometimes rigid and over-contrived application to particular works of literature," maintained Corinna Peterson in the Journal of Analytical Psychology. Natoli goes further in Tracing Literary Theory, seeking to break down the idea of a universal canon and academia's neat divisions of subjects into Aristotelian categories. Instead, he seeks a carnival of voices, "interconnected and interrelated discourses [that] draw upon each other in differing fashions and with differing, often contrary results." The essays provide Marxist, Feminist, Deconstructionist, and Foucaultian perspectives on different aspects of meaning and socially constructed truth in literature, history, and politics. "Under Natoli's able editorship, the dozen essays do achieve an intertextuality that clarifies individual approaches and enables them to resonate with others in the collection," noted reviewers Jeff Parker Knight and Christie Logan in Literature in Performance. They added, "His eloquent preface and opening essay, underscoring his commitment to the heterogeneous voices of theory, are illuminating and inspirational." In Literary Theory's Future(s) Natoli reflects on more recent developments, including the move away from history and cultural development as central issues for literary comparatists. In this sense, explained a Poetics Today reviewer, this collection "retains the central issues raised in [Tracing Literary Theory], namely questions of how to inscribe a future for literary theory transposed into a cultural critique of a broad nature without its losing its identity as a literary critique."

In addition to the written word, Natoli has taken a strong interest in the medium of film and its relationship to the broader culture, producing a series of books chronicling the films of the 1990s. Hauntings: Popular Film and American Culture, 1990-1992 captures the uneasiness that Natoli, and in his view America, felt as the millennium entered its last decade. "What haunts Natoli?" asked Journal of Popular Films and Television contributor Kathy Merlock Jackson. "He presents a 'catalog of hauntings': the New World Order, free play of the market, cultural difference, South Central LA, Wilding, rich and poor, abortion and euthanasia." This and subsequent volumes in the series draw on individual films to illustrate larger themes, and unspoken assumptions, in the culture at large. The results are "part political journalism, part autobiography, and part musings on individual films," according to J. Belton in a Choice review of Memory's Orbit: Film and Culture, 1999-2000.

In addition to these works of contemporary literary and film theory, Natoli has also produced major works on the postmodernism that underlies these theories. After coediting A Postmodern Reader, which reproduces many of the seminal essays from the giants of postmodern thought, Natoli "decided to face the considerable pedagogical challenge of translating postmodern theory for students in A Primer to Postmodernity, " as Amy Elias explained in Contemporary Literature. Even the structure of the book reflects the playful, constantly reemerging nature of the subject, with some sections written as interviews between people or even things representing different philosophical positions, and others using a narrative method based on the Star Trek series, with an imaginary captain exploring various "galaxies of the mind" while following a Prime Directive not to interfere with these different ways of seeing the world. "The sheer bravado of this kind of approach elicits admiration," noted Elias in her review, adding that "for all his schtick, this is a writer who knows his territory well."

In Postmodernism: The Key Figures Natoli and his coeditor, Hans Bertens, discuss the impact of Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, and other giants of the field. "All these have had separate treatment over the years, but what you get here is a survey of postmodernism's effect on them, what they add to it, and how issues of cultural politics, representations and identity continue to challenge and redefine contemporary thinking," explained Stuart Hannabuss in Reference Reviews.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Manuel Ortega R. on March 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a very good book. It is beyond the cute "for beginners" type of books, yet friendly enough to be read in a weekend. It is the best introduction to pomo I can think of, for people who are smart but don't know anything about the subject. Full of useful references.
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