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Teach Yourself Postmodernism [Paperback]

Glenn Ward
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Understand Postmodernism: A Teach Yourself Guide (Teach Yourself: General Reference) Understand Postmodernism: A Teach Yourself Guide (Teach Yourself: General Reference) 5.0 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

April 22, 2003 0071419659 978-0071419659 2

Are there no new ideas to be invented? Are today's ideas really just borrowed from previous times? Postmodernism says this is so, and it's one of the hottest philosophies of today. The book provides an indispensable guide to this often-demanding terrain for readers encountering theories of postmodernism for the first time and places the subject in a broad context. It introduces a wide range of ideas, thinkers, and views yet maintains the readers' focus by linking theory with concrete examples from both "high" and "popular" culture. After completing Teach Yourself Postmodernism, readers will never look at their world the same way again.

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About the Author

Glen Ward is an artist and lecturer on visual culture.

Product Details

  • Series: Teach Yourself: General Reference
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2 edition (April 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071419659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071419659
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 4.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Postmodernism made clear - at last! August 17, 2000
Whipping-boy of preachers, or the coolest of cool labels, "postmodern" keeps popping into my life unbidden. Frustrated over my own ignorance of the term, and unable to pin down a common definition, this book was a simple solution.
Understanding modernism as the Enlightenment ideals of progress, optimism, rationality and the search for absolute truth and the true self, Ward sees postmodernism as the contemporary antithesis embracing exhaustion, pessimism, irrationality and disillusionment with absolutes. On the surface this comparison may appear to put postmodernism in a negative light, when it has much to commend it.
For example, in architecture (chapter two) the modern perspective was utilitarian. Form had to be functional. The result was inhuman sameness. Postmodern architecture emphasizes form, not function, and borrows/blends architectural themes from various places and times to create an eclectic hodgepodge more representative of human diversity and experience. This democratization of architecture is mimicked in literature and the arts (chapter three) where critics are dethroned as arbiters of taste and culture in favor of mass appeal and acceptance.
Chapter four titled "The Trouble With Reality" is simply marvelous, and sets the tone for the remainder of the book. Postmodernism changes the very essence of reality. Just as quantum physics explains that my desk if more "space" than matter, postmodern thought sees reality in form, not substance. The conviction that "image" must rest upon something "real" is contrary to postmodernism, since image is reality. Television is the primary medium; Jean Baudrillard a primary figure.
Chapter five builds on four with poststructural conceptions of language and meanings.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This text's very existence is postmodern itself May 17, 1998
By A Customer
If your reaction to a _Teach Yourself_ series book on critical theory is negative...then you are exactly the person who most needs to read this text. A theory of pop culture, mass culture, and the (non-existant) distinction between "high" (read: élitist) and "low" culture, postmodernism more than any other ism begs a volume of this sort. All the same, Ward's text is a not-so-superficial introduction to the philosophers whose ideas have lead to postmodern critical theory: starting with the structuralists (Saussure, Lévi-Strauss), pass through deconstructionists to poststructuralists...Ward treats Delleuze, Derrida, the Frankfurt School, Jencks, Foucault--and of course Madonna. This text is above no one, and don't resist buying just because it doesn't come in a thick hardcover tome with more italicized philosobabble. If you're interested in postmodernism, this is the place to start. Also suitable as an introductory undergraduate text. Terrific for party tricks as well.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for starters July 27, 2000
This book is great as an introduction to such a complex subject as postmodernism. Its focus is really on the ideas behind postmodernism as they appear in different areas such as architecture, visual arts, film, and literature. By doing so, one is able to see the threads common to all of these disciplines , allowing a grasp on what postmodernism is all about. The (often obscure) work of the major thinkers is summarized in a way that can be more easily understood. A critique of these thinkers usually follows these summaries, which gives the reader a better perspective and balance. I highly recommend it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple book on a complex subject August 13, 2007
I had always heard the term "postmodernism" and never really put much thought into it. However about four years ago, while I was working on my masters in social sciences the term was brought up again and again. After reading many philosophy type books, I thought the concept was grasped. Consequently, the notion of postmodernism was still nebulous, evasive and elusive. I can recall asking my advisor in my graduate program what defines a postmodern theorist. He simplistically stated that a postmodern theorist will claim he/she isn't a postmodern theorist. Also postmodern theorists tend to not agree with one and other.

Ultimately I felt quasi-comfortable about my knowledge in postmodernism, yet I had a thirst for more. This led me to look for a book on the topic and to "Teach Yourself Postmodernism". I have to say that I am very pleased with the content within the pages of this paperback by Glenn Ward. This book spoke of postmodernism in terms of architecture, art, music, film, history, politics, fashion, languages/words/text and psychology (to list a few). Another thing that I liked about this book is it provided many lucid and tangible examples when discussing concepts. For instance, the movie Blade Runner was used as paradigm of postmodernism.

Modernism was also tackled in this book, mainly because there can't be postmodern without modern. The book also is reader friendly. However, there were some aspects/points that were totally over my head. I reread many components several times and grasped it and other things were just way too abstract for me to clench.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Making the abstract that little bit clearer
Three cheers for this well-written and informative volume. Postmodernism is frequently among the least easily defined of all critical theories, irrespective of whether it's being... Read more
Published on November 17, 2011 by LuvzFilmz
4.0 out of 5 stars 80% Readable Explanation of "What Is Postmodernism?" for All Us Smart...
Ward does a great job here of serving up some edible postmodern appetizers. If you want an entree, you're probably not contemplating buying this sandcastle-covered book anyway. Read more
Published on December 9, 2009 by Nat Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive
The book provides a comprehensive, yet cautiously and circumspectly written, overview of the philosophical tradition that constitutes "postmodernism. Read more
Published on November 23, 2008 by Mark Straka
4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic outline to Postmodernism
Being heavily interested in art, I fell in love with the philosphy of postmodernism as it is an issue, and a period, in which we live. Read more
Published on July 1, 2008 by Sara E. Luebke
5.0 out of 5 stars Teach yourself postmodernism
This book has a lot of information in it. I am using it in a class.
Published on February 28, 2008 by Lorna Dufur
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the book I should have read first
Teach Yourself Postmodernism, despite the slightly tacky series title, is by far the best introduction to the topic I have yet to come across. Read more
Published on January 8, 2007 by Allan Revich
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Intro
This is a good read if you're new to what postmodernism is all about. It's fairly clear as far as explaining things and it gives you direction on who and what to read should you... Read more
Published on July 7, 2006 by Christopher M. Fulton
4.0 out of 5 stars A good explanation of Postmodernism
The first chapter is a bit confusing, but once you read the next few chapters, you realize that postmodernism is difficult to put into a box. Read more
Published on July 2, 2006 by M. Rucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Power of Thought
This book represents a vast sweep of postmodern culture and thought. Its eight chapters cover eight major areas of postmodernism. Read more
Published on April 5, 2006 by Rev. Thomas Scarborough
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Introduction:Broad but Clear
This book covers postmodernism in art, politics, history, literature, and culture. Although the book touches all of these subjects, its main concentration appears to be... Read more
Published on May 5, 2005 by J. Stewart
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