Critiquing Postmodernism in Contemporary Discourses of Race

Overview

Critiquing Postmodernism in Contemporary Discourses of Race challenges the critical emphasis on otherness in treatments of race in literary and cultural studies. Sue J. Kim deftly argues that this treatment not only perpetuates narrow identity politics, but obscures the political and economic structures that shape issues of race in literary studies. Kim’s revelatory book shows how reading authors through their identity ends up neglecting both complex historical contexts and aesthetic forms. This comparative study...

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Overview

Critiquing Postmodernism in Contemporary Discourses of Race challenges the critical emphasis on otherness in treatments of race in literary and cultural studies. Sue J. Kim deftly argues that this treatment not only perpetuates narrow identity politics, but obscures the political and economic structures that shape issues of race in literary studies. Kim’s revelatory book shows how reading authors through their identity ends up neglecting both complex historical contexts and aesthetic forms. This comparative study calls for a reconsideration of the bases for critical engagement and a reading ethics that melds the best of historicist and formalist approaches to literature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kim's study, then, points the way toward a consideration of difference that is not mired in relativism without ethics, but that appreciates real social conditions as they influence and particularize experience."--MELUS

 

“In this marvelous book, Kim attempts what we rarely see in the innumerable critiques of postmodernism available to us from progressive, radical scholars: she constructs her case by drawing on the work of complex, sophisticated writers from diverse traditions and contexts—mainstream American, Asian American and African. This is superb work of comparative literary studies and cultural criticism. It is bound to exert some influence across several fields including postcolonial studies, American studies and the discourses of race, identity and agency.”—Biodun Jeyifo, Professor, African and African American Studies and Literature and Comparative Literature, Harvard University

“In Critiquing Postmodernism, Kim offers a searing critique of the postmodern politics of difference. Ranging across critical theory, political discourse, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Kim incisively examines two conspicuous limitations of what she calls ‘otherness postmodernism’—an approach to otherness that ironically ends up flattening differences into sameness and an overwhelming emphasis on cultural and aesthetic rather than institutional or political-economic critique. As a consequence, Kim forcefully argues, ‘otherness postmodernism’ continues to perpetuate the reified and essentialist notions of race that it claims to supersede. The most unexpected revelations of this study emerge from Kim’s juxtaposition of theories and texts that are seldom discussed together, such as the concepts of radical democracy propounded by Laclau and Mouffe along with Omi and Winant, or the novels of Thomas Pynchon, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Bessie Head. International in scope and multidisciplinary in approach, Critiquing Postmodernism is indispensable reading for everyone interested in the workings of racial difference in contemporary critical theory, postmodern literature, U.S. ethnic studies, and postcolonial studies.”—Madhu Dubey, author of Signs and Cities: Black Literary

Postmodernism

“The novel is a most wondrous time (and place) machine. It is all-encompassing and polymorphous. It has a notable capacity to adapt to different media and epochs and tastes. And in its generous capaciousness it is also a teaching device in all matters concerning the universe and humankind.  Kim is the rara avis who has entered this territory and has come back with something new and of value to tell us about it. And while making a deep analysis of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity’s Rainbow, and Bessie Head's A Question of Power, she is gifting us with an astute study and rejection of some of the most widespread postmodernist and multiculturalist pieties. This feat will engage both specialists and general readers interested in the marvelous and delicately composed mental engine that is the novel.”—Frederick Luis Aldama, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of English, The Ohio State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230618749
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 11/24/2009
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue J. Kim is Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has published essays in College Literature, Narrative, Journal of Asian American Studies, and Modern Fiction Studies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction * Ideological Fantasy of Otherness Postmodernism * Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and the Politics of Form * Not Three Worlds but One: Thomas Pynchon and the Invisibility of Race * Analyzing the Real: Bessie Head’s Literary Psychosis * Concluding Notes

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