Postmodernism

Ning Wang

Table of contents

In the contemporary international academia, postmodernism is perhaps one of the most frequently used terms in almost all the relevant disciplines or areas of humanities and social sciences. Whether there is such a thing as postmodernism has been, and will continue to be, controversial, not only in the West, but also elsewhere in the world. Some scholars (Wang 1997) prefer to use the more inclusive term postmodernity to describe the contemporary intellectual condition beyond the Western context. For the past thirty years or more, the debate about postmodernism or postmodernity has been of acute interest to major Euro-American scholars and critics in the humanities and social sciences. Some, moreover, have extended the consideration of postmodernity to Asian and other Third World cultures and literatures (Dirlik & Zhang 2000). Until over ten years ago, many Western scholars who think that postmodernism does, in fact, exist had held nevertheless that it is a Western phenomenon that is irrelevant to Third World and Asian societies, which lack the conditions for postmodernity. Frequent cultural and academic exchanges in the past decades have inclined increasing numbers of Western scholars to think of postmodernity as a universal phenomenon, even if it germinated in the cultural soil of Western postindustrial society. In recent years, when the debates about postmodernism overlap with questions of postcolonialism or postcoloniality and globalization in the non-Western world, the relevance of postmodernism to scholars, writers, and literary critics in the East is enhanced even further. From today's point of view, we should say that postmodernism, as a literary and art movement in the Western context, has already become a past event which can only be described in history. But postmodern ideas and ways of thinking have permeated almost all the aspects in contemporary culture and are still influential in many fields of humanities, including Translation Studies.

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