Study Guide

Stephen Greenblatt - The Postmod Squad

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The Postmod Squad

What is postmodernism? If you have to ask, you'll never know. What is postmodern critique? That one we can answer: it's the subversion of meaning even as you attempt to define everything. What are we talking about? Wouldn't you like to know…

Okay, okay: as postmodernists, what all the peeps in the group have in common is that their work plays around with older, preconceived notions of meaning and identity, and they turn those notions on their heads. Then they connect it back to literature, of course.

Stanley Fish

One of the headliners of postmodern lit crit, Fish helped kicked things off with his version of reader-response theory. However, he's probably best known for coming up with the concept of "interpretive communities." An interpretive community is a group of people who share an intellectual or belief system that they bring to their analysis of texts. In his editorial column in the New York Times, he's also argued that the humanities have intrinsic value and should not be judged by the same criteria as, say, med school.

Marjorie Garber

Garber's all about exploring areas of Renaissance study previously ignored. Just take a look at some of her titles: Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (a theoretical piece on transvestitism in the early modern period), Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (which crosses art, science, history, and pop culture), and, well, Dog Love (connect the dots).

Donna Haraway

Tell us if you can think of a cooler name for the title of your essay on what it means to be a woman than: "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." This is by no means Haraway's only influential work, but this is where she argues that, far from standing outside of the male hierarchy, women are within it. She says women are like cyborgs—not quite one thing and not quite another—and they must piece together their own sense of self.

Haraway thinks that the goal shouldn't be identity (which isn't possible for cyborgs or women within patriarchies, anyway), but affinity (ways of making connections with other women over certain commonalities).

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