Modernity, Postmodernism and Multiple Modernities

Winter Semester 2003

2 Credits


Prof Sally Humphrey

Dr Sophia Howlett


Intensive Course from Monday, January 13th to Thursday, January 23rd

Brief Course Description

The course will examine the conflicts between the unified/linear perspective of modernism, the multiple perspectives of postmodernism and the discourse of multiple modernities. These conflicts will be re-assessed and debated through a variety of significant themes or tropes that characterise the modern period - rejection of the past, technological progress, and universalistic political and social theories – and through the contradictions, exclusions, blindnesses and resistances that modernity has produced. Consequently, we will also examine more closely modernity and postmodernity themselves: the epistemology of modernism, for instance, and modernism’s effects on the imagination of both pasts and futures.




·        Class Participation, plus acting as the opening discussant for one session

·        Midcourse comment on readings of 2-3 pages, to be handed in after the mid-course weekend (Monday morning, January 20th)

·        Project for a paper that would develop one of the course topics in more depth. This project should outline the proposed topic and approach to that topic (data, where necessary, theoretical framework, line of argument/hypothesis et al), explain why the project is worthwhile and provide a suggested bibliography


Lecture 1: Introduction


The Problems of Definition: defining modernity (various periodisations and the problem of periodisation, definition varying with the problematics, from the Enlightenment to when? 1989?); defining postmodernity (in conjunction with modernity, post- what? anticipations of postmodernism in the early 20th century); multiple modernities (Frederic Jameson’s discussion as a site for debate – Postmodernism is not new and multiple modernities are as apolitical as multiculturalism; multiplicity of points of view central to both postmodernism and multiple modernities). Subversion of the universalising perspective of modernity

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