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Postmodern Theory 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0898624182
ISBN-10: 0898624185
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Editorial Reviews


"It's a clear, useful anthology. Excellent for classroom use." --Dr. Paul Swann, Temple University; Course: Postmodern Criticism; Graduate

"Postmodern Theory covers the difficult, sometimes treacherous, and always labyrinthine terrain of modern critical theory about as well as it can be done. This text explores the intricate--and often dense--discourses of writers like Foucault, Baudrillard, Jameson, and Habermas with admirable clarity and insight. If a good deal of postmodern theorizing is opaque and unreadable, this volume is eminently coherent and readable. If postmodernism seems all too often to be engaged in a flight from politics, Best and Kellner manage to bring the theoretical enterprise back to its political moorings. And this is no easy task. This book is highly recommended for any student of social and political theory." --Carl Boggs, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

"The most detailed introduction to postmodern social theory I have yet seen, including valuable critical readings of the major debates.' --Fredric Jameson, Duke University

"Offers a significant engagement with many of the leading figures in current philosophical debates about contemporary history, culture, and politics. Postmodern Theory's rigor, insight, and unique focus make it an important work to be reckoned with. It should prove to be an invaluable resource and example for anyone interested in media theory and cultural studies.' --Lawrence Grossberg, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"In view of the countless many who have lost their way and wits in the dark junglelands of post-modernism, it is bracing to encounter two writers who have been there and back with their critical judgment intact and perhaps even strengthened by the encounter. They have composed a guide through the swamps, around the quicksands, past the piranha beds, in and out of the mazes of Foucault, Derida, Baudrillard, Habermas, Lyotard, and other dangers. They are sure guides, sharp critics, smart readers, enlightened spirits. I would trust them utterly.' --Arthur C. Danto, Columbia University

"Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations is perhaps the most comprehensive introduction to postmodern social theory on the shelves.... This book not only interrogates the past, but more importantly, it demands and inspires the production of new perspectives and solutions to our present social demise."
(Harvard Educational Review 1991-11-17)

From the Publisher

Also from Best and Kellner: The Postmodern Turn, ISBN 1-57230-221-6, 1997.

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Product Details

  • Series: Critical Perspectives (Guilford)
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898624185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898624182
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Y. Lau on February 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I agree with one of the other reviewers of this book. If you don't have a knack for sorting out the often convoluted writing styles of postmodern theorists, this book would not be a good introductory text for the novice. That aside, the book successfully, for me, meandered through the postmodern junkpiles of many of the more well known postmodernists of the last 30 years: Lyotard, Jameson, Baudrillard, Foucault, Deleuze & Guattari, and Habermas, to name a few. I liked it that Best and Kellner's politics and goals were always unappolagetically evident. Their effort to systematically conceptualize each theorist's contribution to "postmodernism", and to explore the points at which different theorists cross path, depart in different directions, and/or altogether miss each other, is to hypothesize the possibility and need of a critical postmodernism - one that reflectively grounds and ungrounds itself in the traditions of critical theory and postmodernism. The translucencency of their analysis makes them not so much an objective observer of postmodernist writings, but situatuates them within the debates as participants. I believe that their review and arguments were cogent and progressive. It is a great book for exploring the primary texts you plan to hit.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark Twain on November 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
I remember my first encounter with postmodernism over 10 years ago when I started college and wished for a more gentle introduction. Pomo authors are notoriously difficult to understand not so much because their work is diffucult, but their texts are seldom self containted. To understand Foucault, you must know something about Nietszche, Heidigger, and to a smaller extent, Satre. In fact, to understand Foucault, you would have to read quite a bit of Foucault's canon because each text in each period of his writing is a collage of a much bigger picture.
I think this is the best introduction to postmodernism on the market. The authors discuss several seminal figures in pomo: Foucault, Baudrillard, Lyotard, etc. Their summaries and analysis are frequently good but at times flawed. This book is a good primer into pomo but I would not end with this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Last Person You'd Expect on June 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Anyone who's studied only a few of the major thinkers in postmodern thought may find themselves losing touch with the larger picture-- that is, what constitutes postmodernism? Or even, what are the major themes and problems of this subject matter? Answering these questions is fundamental in order to assist a reader of postmodernist texts in knowing simply just what to look for while reading as well as understanding the value of postmodernism in its effectiveness to critique modern conditions. Best and Kellner have written the only book I've found with an attempt to answer these questions. It's written for serious beginners or well-read intermediate-level students, not with the implicit assumption of a lazy reader (as in titles like 'Kant in 90 Minutes' or 'Postmodernism for Dummies').

Both Terry Eagleton ('After Theory', 'Literary Theory') and these writers have been accused of oversimplification or misleading readers on the meaning of certain concepts. I'm not in a position to assert these claims, but I make it a habit not to treat any text as Biblical truth. Certianly, as I read more I will develop my own ideas about the precise meanings of concepts described by Foucault, Deleuze and others. With that in mind, I've found Postmodern Theory to be an outstanding overview of the authors under discussion. It is a difficult book, but written with a clarity such that the language is no impediment to following the discourse. That is, I can read it on a crowded bus :)

Early on, the authors differentiate between poststructuralism and postmodernism. The thinkers under discussion all fall into the latter school. Poststructuralists like Derrida are therefore not covered under the book's scope.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a very useful introduction to some highly provocative thinking. The strengths and weaknesses of each theorist's position are laid out, and there is an extensive list of references at the back to direct further inquiry. A worthwhile read for those interested in the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By thames on December 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
You want to get right to the point when trying to understand something, generally speaking...
unlike the authors whose complicated "theory" and awful, obscurantist writing this book clearly, rationally, nonsensically deals with?

Then this is a useful book for you.
I don't have taste or time for the verbal ballet Continental thinkers have been committed to since, I don't know, Christian Wolff.
The big thinkers/gurus of po-mo are mostly here and given a nice, systematic analysis. You'll get familiarized with Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Laclau and Mouffe, and Jameson as well as feminist theory and identity politics and an overview of the historical origins and development of postmodernism in various fields of study.
Read this book years ago, it still holds-up, and it is still perhaps the best introductory text on so-called "postmodern theory" around. And by the way some of the book is free online along with many excellent essays by authors Douglas Kellner and Steven Best. Google 'em.
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