Modernism and Postmodernism – What’s the Difference?

Modernism and Postmodernism – What’s the difference?

The table below is taken from David Harvey’s Condition of Postmodernity (in turn taken from Hassan 1985). Harvey suggests that its a useful tool which helps us to see how postmodernity is, in some ways, a reaction to modernity. I cut out a few of the more hectic comparisons and left in the easier to understand ones (having said that, it’s still pretty hectic!) 

Modernism

romanticism/ symbolism

form (conjunctive, closed)

purpose

design

hierarchy

mastery/ logos

 

art object/ finished work

distance

creation/ totalisation/ synthesis

 

presence

centring

genre/ boundary

semantics

paradigm

metaphor

selection

 

root/ depth

interpretation/ reading

signified

narrative/ grand history

master code

type

genital/ phallic

paranoia

 

origin/ cause

God the Father

metaphysics

determinacy

transcendence

Postmodernism

paraphysics/ Dadaism

antiform (disjunctive, open)

play

chance

anarchy

exhaustion/ silence

 

process/ performance/ happening

participation

decreation/ deconstruction/ antithesis

 

absence

dispersal

text/ intertext

rhetoric

syntagm

metonymy

combination

 

rhizome/ surface

against interpretation/ misreading

signifier

anti-narrative/ small history

idiolect

mutant

polymorphous/ androgynous

schizophrenia

 

difference-difference/ trace

The Holy Ghost

irony

indeterminacy

immanence

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