Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory
EN3000 – Fall/Winter 2011/2012 – Nemanja Protic
Lecture 1 – Sept 08
- What does it mean to be modern and how is modernity organized in terms of
theory (concepts) and practice (ways of living)?
- What does it mean to be postmodern and how is postmodernity organized in
those same terms?
- Are we, today, modern? Are we postmodern? Or is there a different option?
- More specifically, how are categories and concepts such as truth, history,
subjectivity, and ideology utilized in a construction of praxis in the modern and
postmodern periods? How do these concepts function and how are they utilized
- Methodologically speaking, how are theories and concepts developed by various
thinkers throughout the modern period related dialogically?
- Methodology corollary: We must avoid the tendency to see development as
progress – as linear teleological movement from a lower to a higher stage.
Praxis (as per Calvin O. Schrag)
“Praxis [is located] between the theoretical and the practical as they are generally
understood, and particularly as they are understood in modern philosophy. Praxis as the
manner in which we are engaged in the world and with others has its own insight or
understanding prior to any explicit formulation of that understanding… of course, it must
be understood that praxis, as it understands it, is always entwined with communication.”
Dialogic (as per the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
“Characterized or constituted by the interactive, responsive nature of dialogue
rather than by the single-mindedness of monologue. The term is important in the
writings of Russian theorists Mikhail Bakhtin, whose [work]… contrasts the dialogic or
polyphonic interplay of various characters’ voices in Dostoevsky’s novels with the
‘monological’ subordination of characters to the single view point of the author in
Tolstoy’s. [Bakhtin also argues] against Saussure’s theory of la langue, that actual
utterances are ‘dialogic’ in that they are embedded in a context of dialogue and thus
respond to an interlocutor’s previous utterances and/or try to draw a particular response
from a specific auditor.”
- The modern era.
- The postmodern era.
- Post modernisation.
- Postmodernism. The Modern Era
- Rebellion against traditional forms of authority such as the Church and the
Monarchy, and an attempt to establish the autonomy of the individual’s capability
- Rise of democratic political forms, based on the autonomy of the individual.
- This democracy is often described as ‘liberal’ – concerned with rights of
individuals – and as closely related to capitalist economic forms and commerce
epitomised by the industrial Revolution and the rise of machine production.
- Modern thought, furthermore, builds on this faith in reason and human autonomy,
and leads to a proliferation of subjectivist and individualistic ways of
conceptualising the world.
- Modernity is a concept that embodies cultural aspects of the modern era such as
the rebellion against traditional authority and faith in reason and autonomy of the
individual; these are concretely expressed in liberal