Introduction to the Postmodernism Period (1945 – present)
Postmodernism is the literary period running from 1945 to current times. According to History.com, “Post-modernism is a dismissal of the rigidity of Modernism in favor of an “anything goes” approach to subject matter, processes and material”. Postmodernism includes works that reflect on the Cold War, the Arms and Space Races, the beginnings of activist movements, and other developments in America shaped by the changes that brought about Postmodernism as a literary movement. American society changed after the end of World War II to an era of fear, anxiety, and pressure to combat the idea of Communism, effectively shifting American literature to involve more anti-fear, anti-Communist, and anti-McCarthyism sentiments. One such anti-McCarthyism work would be Miller’s The Crucible. In the 1970’s, life in America changed again to better suit the no-war mentality of the younger generations of Americans. It shifted again each decade after that, adopting new trends that younger Americans popularized. This pattern of finding trends every decade was shifted onto generations born in the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s, creating a unique, mixing-pot culture that America flourishes in today. Postmodernism as an overarching literary theme or movement reflects each decade following 1945 alongside the common themes between each generation.
The Role of Postmodernism in Current America
Postmodernism is a movement primarily driven by the arts and sciences of each generation included in the period of 1945 to now. As themes in literature and artwork shifted from uncertainty and disillusionment to irony and satire, as did the science of linguistics. According to Postmodernism and Society, Postmodernism changed the scientific nature of linguistics, thus changing all that it influences such as society itself. As generations develop their own understanding and usage of linguistics, the very concept of linguistics shifts to adapt and encompass their perception of the reality around them. Modern America demonstrates how changing linguistics among youth allows them to develop a society that’s more likely to be resistant to anything against the common movements they value rather than preserving older traditions or themes. Current movements such as Feminism, Equal Rights, and Black Lives Matter are more likely to be accepted and promoted in currently younger generations, some of whom have already proven that they’re more than capable of impacting global societies through various means. One such example would be Greta Thunburg who is quoted saying “”The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.”’ at a UN Climate Summit in New York in 2019. She and many others have spoken out against leaders who would otherwise be doing nothing to truly stop climate change, proving that younger generations won’t be complicit in their own demise as a victim of issues placed upon them by older generations such as climate change, inequality, and racism.
Themes: Activism, Satire, Irony, Exploration, Perspective, Truths
Modern America is known for the activism found in younger generations as well as the exploratory nature of our escapades into space. America is founded on the idea of freedom and liberty, ideas that come to fruition when Americans create and become part of movements that help one oppressed people group or another. We create satire and irony out of the dire situations we come into, finding humor when there is none and finding hope when situations seem hopeless. Our perspectives give us part of our personality as a nation- we all come from different backgrounds with different struggles but we have to find some way to reconcile our differences with the things we find in common with one another. On thing that can drive us apart is the argument of what is considered truth, an argument that can be found in modern media that can shape peoples’ perspectives of others and can create ironic situations that cause others detriment.
Key Historical/ Literary Figures:
Time Travel Narrative: Based on the fact that this is still technically on-going, I would choose to either go back to the early 2000’s or fast-forward past the year 2020. It would be fun to relive some of the best times of the early 2000’s and possibly the 1980’s. I’d love to see the moon landing broadcasting in person, to see comedians and actors like Robin Williams walk the stage again and make people smile in real-time, to see the beginnings of movements such as modern-era Feminism or the LGBT+ movement, to witness the country’s reaction to 9-11 in real time, to even be able to go back and warn people to stay away from the targeted buildings, to try and make certain that MLKJ and JFK stay away from their assassination spots, to try and stop American leaders from creating problems that lead to wars later on in the Middle East, to try and stop such tragedies from happening and to change the course of history in a different way. But then again, this poses the question of ‘why go back and change things when what you do right now could save or end hundreds of thousands of lives’? What would happen if someone did actually go back and save all those people and changed history? Would the long-term changes be good or bad? And what if everything still happens even with you trying your hardest to stop it from happening?
- The Arms Race, Space Race, Korean War, Vietnam War, Suffrage for minorities in America, and many other monumental movements all happened during this era.