In this essay, Neil Vallelly answers the question “What is postmodernism?” by demonstrating how disappearance, as envisaged by Jean Baudrillard, “lies at the heart of postmodern theory.” Vallelly also argues for the critical value of postmodernism’s traces in contemporary literature and suggests the adoption of a "methodology that embraces disappearance."
Alexandra Dumitrescu’s essay describes the development of metamodernism in New Zealand and presents metamodernism as an interrogation of “modernist uprootedness or postmodern drifting.”
In an attempt to re-materialize postmodernism, Damien Gibson provides, by drawing on material ecocriticism and on the concept of “narrative agency,” a critical posthumanist reading of Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods.
Simon During proposes to unravel the “layered” history of postmodernism in New Zealand. In so doing, the author of this essay treats postmodernism as “an event rather than a period” and describes postmodernism’s development in the epoch of neo-liberalism.
In an essay spanning modernist and postmodernist poetics, Lynley Edmeades demonstrates how postmodern poetry cultivates “present-ness” by drawing on Lyotard’s concept of “constancy,” Gertrude Stein’s notion of “continuous present” and Caroline Bergvall’s adherence to “non-linearity.”
While describing the work of Beckett as deeply influenced by nominalism, Holly Phillips explores “ineffable permutations of intellectual history” and demonstrates how medieval philosophy has deeply influenced twentieth century literature. Simultaneously, Phillips undermines the idea that nominalism’s dismantlement of universals has finally been accomplished by postmodernism.
Jacob Edmond argues that while postmodernism might be useless as a theoretical concept or periodization, it nevertheless illuminates changes, both local and global, in the final decades of the twentieth century. Edmond analyzes the uses of postmodernism in the United States, New Zealand, Russia, and China. He shows how the various and even contradictory uses of the term postmodernism allowed it to represent both sides in the unfolding tension between globalization and localism in late twentieth-century culture.
Ralph Clare sees the new essay collection on William Gaddis as engaging a growing reassessment of the novelist's work. Taking up the task of moving the scholarship past the postmodern theories that framed and determined it for some time, Clare argues that 'The Last of Something' turns out to be the beginning of something more. Approaches in the collection range from new forms of biographical and contextual criticism, to theories of data storage and "bare life," but the nuance and ambition of the scholarship re-asserts the relevance of Gaddis.
Can a corporate-dominated Web become an environment conducive to literary activity? The novelist, essayist, and cultural critic Curtis White is skeptical. Responding to criticisms of his account of the devolution of literary publishing and reflecting on the prevalence of market-driven values in online exchanges, White doubts whether literature can distinguish itself in the noisy new media ecology, which he likens to a high-tech prison house.
House of Leaves may be on everyone's shortlist of postmodern media-savvy novels, but are we ready for a retrospective collection of essays on Mark Z. Danielewski? According to Daniel Punday's review, Joe Bray and Alison Gibbons' collection says as much about the current state of (post) postmodernist writing as it does about Danielewski's scant oeuvre.