(Post)modernism and the Other

Broj 2 - Godina 1 - 06/2011

Uvodnik

There is always a good reason to cherish and celebrate a second issue of a journal. In our case it would probably be the fact that in spite of the severe world financial crisis and its repercussions on the academic world we found a way to beat the odds and publish what is hopefully a progressive, intellectually competitive and, at the end of the day, an interesting collection of academic papers. As opposed to the first issue, dedicated to the theme of the endangered "body", the second one functions as a form of proceedings from the conference that was held at the University of Zadar in September 2010. The conference entitled Re-Thinking Humanities and Social Sciences questioned the issue of (Post)modernism and the Other through an extremely wide variety of scientific approaches, creating an atmosphere of highly academic competitiveness surrounded by a distinct Mediterranean ambiance. The second issue of our journal is an intellectual and textual extension of that unique experience. Obviously the papers presented here are merely a fragment of that experience but nevertheless we believe that they will provide the reader with an interesting and challenging insight into the issue of (Post)modernism and the Other. ..

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The following contribution to a discussion that purports to “rethink the humanities” stems from the field of American Studies which has, since its beginnings, challenged and put pressure on disciplinary borders and institutional structures of both the humanities and the social sciences. The approaches it has espoused has led observers to see it as a domain of inquiry where virtually anything goes. One of the explanations that has been put forth to account for the heterogeneity of both the research agendas and the multiplicity of methods within American Studies is the dynamics of demography within the United States and the way that this dynamic has impacted both the enrollment statistics at American universities and the diversifications of its teaching staff. According to this oft-repeated view, the research agenda of American Studies reflects the stages of empowerment of the different groups making up the United States polity. Although one would be hard put not to acknowledge these, distinctly American, developments, on the present occasion my point of departure is a more general rationale which American Studies, like other disciplines today, rely upon when setting their research agenda and deploying their methods: in simplest terms, they harbor a desire and feel a need for relevancy. ...

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Generally speaking, in the postcolonial literary theory the other is represented as the object of colonization. The O/other is inevitable, essential and important to the defining of the subject identity in both cases – if we deal with the subordinate, marginalized and exploited other, or on the other hand with the Other who is itself the representation of the imperial discourse of power and in whose gaze the subordinate identity is being constructed and exists: In both cases the opposition simply must exist, it is usually the result of a basic distinction between the dominant and subordinate class and it is not rare that in post-colonial texts the process of othering may also become extremely violent. Simply speaking, the Empire by definition colonizes and subjugates the objects of colonization. Political independence of the former colonies did not bring equality to all social groups in the new countries, and the process of subordination continued in some other aspects and distinctions. Ania Loomba in the chapter named “Situating Postcolonial Studies” in her book Colonialism / Postcolonialism states the following: ...

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Although film history has mostly been understood in national terms, there have also been attempts to present a general history of film styles. The history of film styles can be roughly divided into four distinct phases, each drawing on different aspects of narration. In the beginning, cinema privileged documentation and spectacle, presenting the exhibitionistic aspect of the new medium, whose structural characteristics had yet to be explored. Nöel Burch labeled this pre-narrative style a Primitive Mode of Representation, and this mode defied the narrative aspect of film-making. The shift towards narration occurred in the period between 1907 and 1909, when narrative films became the dominant mode of storytelling. The transition towards narrative cinema was mainly prompted by the demands of the market, which resulted in the gradual predominance of fictional narratives. The new style became known as the classical realist cinema, and Classical Hollywood Cinema became the leading representative. ...

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Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road did not receive much academic attention despite the fact that it is an exceptionally refined and capturing piece of fiction. It was critically acclaimed following its publication in 1961, nominated for the National Book Award in 1962 and then forgotten. Not surprisingly, the novel was “rediscovered” once a movie adaptation was made in 2008. Revolutionary Road is typically read – quite expectedly – as a story of suburban malaise and a critique of the American (suburban) life in the 1950s. However, in an interview, published in Ploughshares in 1972, Yates stated that although he intended the novel to be an indictment of American life in the 1950s because of a general lust for conformity (DeWitt and Clark 66), he never planned the novel to be anti-suburban in any way. On the contrary, he hoped to make it implicit in the text that he is writing about a particular couple, the Wheelers, and what turns out to be specifically “their delusion, their problem” (DeWitt and Clark 66). In that sense, the novel should be read as a psychological exploration of the universal issues of human desire and the relationship of the individual to the pre-established (social) system in which he or she lives. Consequently, it becomes clear that Yates’s novel hardly represents an indictment of a way of life, but quite the opposite: an indictment of the individual unable to adapt to the demands of the Other. In Lacanian terms, Revolutionary Road is a story about the unattainable desire to create one’s identity regardless or in spite of the socially constructed Symbolic order. ...

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