Productive Postmodernism

Consuming Histories and Cultural Studies

Edited by John N. Duvall
Afterword by Linda Hutcheon

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture
Paperback : 9780791451946, 238 pages, December 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451939, 238 pages, December 2001

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Troping History: Modernist Residue in Jameson's Pastiche and Hutcheon's Parody
John N. Duvall

2. Postmodernism and History: Complicitous Critique and the Political Unconscious
Thomas Carmichael

Postmodernism, Fiction, History

3. A Mother (and a Son, and a Brother, and a Wife, et al. ) in History: Stories Galore in Libra and the Warren Commission Report
Stacey Olster

4. Donald Barthelme and the President of the United States
Michael Zeitlin

5. “Postmodern Blackness”: Toni Morrison's Beloved and the End of History
Kimberly Chabot Davis

6. Historiographic Metafiction and the Celebration of Differences: Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo
W. Lawrence Hogue

7. Troping the Renaissance: Postmodern Historiography and Early Modern History
Paul Budra

Postmodernism, Architecture, History

8. Los Angeles, 2019: Two Tales of a City
Kevin R. McNamara

9. Postmodern Casinos
Shelton Waldrep

10. Postmodernism and Holocaust Memory: Productive Tensions in the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Nancy J. Peterson

Afterword: “Acting from the Midst of Identities”: Questions from Linda Hutcheon

Works Cited



Investigates a broad range of contemporary fiction, film, and architecture to address the role of history in postmodern cultural productions.


Productive Postmodernism addresses the differing accounts of postmodernism found in the work of Fredric Jameson and Linda Hutcheon, a debate that centers around the two theorists' senses of pastiche and parody. For Jameson, postmodern texts are ahistorical, playing with pastiched images and aesthetic forms, and are therefore unable to provide a critical purchase on culture and capital. For Hutcheon, postmodern fiction and architecture remain political, opening spaces for social critique through a parody that deconstructs official history. Thinking in the space between these two sharply different positions, the essays in this collection investigate a broad range of contemporary fiction, film, and architecture—from such narratives as Don DeLillo's Libra, Toni Morrison's Beloved, and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, to the vastly different spaces of Las Vegas casinos and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum—in order to ask what the cultural work of a postmodern aesthetic might be.

John N. Duvall is Associate Professor of English at Purdue University and the author of The Identifying Fictions of Toni Morrison: Modernist Authenticity and Postmodern Blackness and Faulkner's Marginal Couple: Invisible, Outlaw, and Unspeakable Communities.


"Although there are many books on postmodernism, I don't know of any that theorize Jameson and Hutcheon this way or that bring history-fiction-architecture together so provocatively. I like the way these essays, all of them, put theory into practice. " — Dawne McCance, author of Posts: Re Addressing the Ethical

"The text articulates well the shift from postmodernism as a de(con)structive fragmenting theory/act (as it is so often in both popular and academic contexts) to a productive fragmenting theory/act. The book contributes to the field of postmodern theory as well as to the literary, architectural, historical, and aesthetic fields tapped into through the individual essays. " — Beth Martin Birky, Goshen College