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Postmodernism For Beginners Paperback – August 21, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: For Beginners
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: For Beginners; Reprint edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934389099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934389096
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Powell lives in Santa Barbara, California where he enjoys surfing, writing, playing piano, and painting. His other books include Mandalas: The Dynamics of Vedic Symbolism, Energy and Eros, The Tao of Symbolism, Eastern Philosophy For Beginners, Derrida For Beginners, and Postmodernism For Beginners. Jim has a Master's Degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Sanskrit and Indology. His thesis was on Vedic mythology. He also holds a Master's Degree in English Literature and wrote a thesis on Mark Twain's relationship with the Mississippi River.

Joe Lee is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, and clown. With a degree from Indiana University centering on Medieval History, Joe is also a graduate of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey's Clown College. He worked for some years as a circus clown. He is the illustrator of a baker's dozen of For Beginners books including, Barack Obama, [Howard] Zinn, Shakespeare, Postmodernism, Deconstruction, Eastern Philosophy, and Global Warming among others. Joe lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Mary Bess, son Brandon, cat George, and the terriers (or rather terrors) Max and Jack.

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Customer Reviews

This book surveys the development of postmodernism, against the backdrop of modernism.
Discerning Reader
If you are a humanities major or even a science major, I would recommend it--as postmodernism impacts the sciences as well.
Peter Stember
Powell is especially good when it comes to the enigmatic Derrida, and his 'deconstruction.'
Judith Church

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book got me through graduate school, and taught me a thing or two, besides. Also, its illustrations and tone made it all fun. The trouble with postmodern thought, which one MUST give the appearance of having learned, if one is to be successful in a graduate education in the humanities, is that it is so labyrinthine, so French, and so obscure. Thus, most of us end up reading French authors in translation. We must read Derrida, Baudrillard, Foucault, Cixous, etc, etc, depending upon the translations. The next problem is that Derrida's writings, for instance, are a series of readings of other writers: Plato, Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc. In order to really understand Derrida, we should be able to read him in the original, PLUS be able to read Plato, Heidegger, Nietzsche, etc, in the original. Such a task is daunting, if not impossible. And, in fact, very few people have the time or inclination to master Greek, Latin, German, French and all the important philosophers who have written in those languages. Thus, most people talk about Postmodernism without even having really learned one of its major authors. This boils down to grad students and professors making moves in a game. The game consists of using buzz words and phrases of PoMo-babble--without a real in-depth knowledge that one would need to discuss even one of these thinkers seriously. To do that would take a lifetime of study.
I loved Powell's book, because it gave me a quick understanding of many Postmodern writers--and advanced my ability to make moves in the game it seems that we all must play. Also, without Powell's overview, simply launching into a translation of Derrida or Foucault would have been almost useless. Having gained some insight into their thought, my initial readings of their work were much easier. For beginners and even skilled players in the game of the heady field of Postmodernism, such an overview is warmly welcome.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
My opinion is divided. On the one hand, Powell gives excellent summaries of individual "postmodernists" and their positions. His readings of Baudrillard, Jencks, and Derrida, among others, are especially revealing. For this reason, I do recommend the book.
On the other hand, the book never adequately distinguishes the various understandings of what "postmodernism" is. There are several discrete views of postmodernism, and they are not all compatible. At least four of these views are discussed by Powell: (1)postmodernism is viewed by some as a recent global-cultural condition in which different societies confront one another; (2)postmodernism is understood by some as a technological condition brought on by new electronic and mass media technologies; (3)postmodern architecture, as a response to modern architecture, attempts to recover the human element of architecture, and to make it meaningful rather than just functional; and (4)postmodern art, as a response to modern art, varies from aimless free-play to a rejection of the very idea of representation. One can see how some of the thinkers discussed by Powell overlap these categories. For example, Lyotard blends views (1) and (2), while Jencks blends views (1)and (3). And one can imagine other possibilities. For example, one could be a postmodern -- i.e. anti-modern -- architect, without being a postmodernist in senses (1), (2) or (4).
Lastly, and most problematic, is that Friedrich Nietzsche is discussed as a modernist rather than the postmodernist who started most of all this. Powell's reading of Nietzsche has some merit, but I disagree. When Nietzsche proclaimed the "Death of God", he rejected all modernist commitments to other-worldy realities.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Goode on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the first book on Postmodernism I've ever finished. It gives you not only Lyotard, Baudrillard, Foucault and Derrida, but also Blade Runner, Buddha, and Madonna. Always lucid and engaging, it meets you where you are by never presuming you have a background in the subject. Other books on Postmodernism begin by gleefully flooding you in terms such as "aborescence," "diegetic," "interpellation," and "simulacra." By the third page your head aches and you throw the book aside - if you're still awake. You might give up, concluding that Postmodernism is a kind of navel-gazing for college professors with too much time on their hands.
But Powell borrows Postmodernism from the ivory tower and makes it fun. Written in a lively "Q & A" dialogue style, Powell's book allows you to see, feel and think about our world the way the Postmodernist theorists have written about it. Talking about everything from T.S. Eliot to Beavis and Butt-Head, from college catalogues to MTV, Powell shows how almost everything in front of us evinces the postmodern condition.
Postmodernism is also easy to understand, the way Powell places it in historical context. He casts it as a way to understand the breakdown of the grandiose cultural schemes envisioned by the thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries. God and Reason were going to conquer the world and make it safe for ... God and Reason. This did not happen. Instead, the last fifty years have brought us closer to minicultures and multicultures. This cultural flux has been spread by modern freeways, air travel, bookstore chains, movies, and MTV. Powell takes you through the reactions by thinkers such as Jean-Francois Lyotard, Fredric Jameson, Jean Baudrillard, Charles Jencks, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and David Harvey.
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