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To: Professor Karen Thompson
From: Ian Sullivan
Date: 29 June 2014
Subject: Writing Technical Definitions and Descriptions

The following is a memo detailing the assignment for a creation of a technical
definition and description. I have chosen to examine the concept of postmodernism
as it applies to English academia. Postmodernism is the theory of total subjectivity
and that there are no inherent truths. The theory is relevant in English literature
and defining it is vital to understanding key literary works as well as other art


The audience for the definition and description would be those with little to know
knowledge of postmodern theory. The two include adequate and thorough, yet
simple, information on the concept to provide those with a stable understanding
that can be applied to future examinations of works. In compliance with this project,
the audience must have already gained an understanding of what modernism is in
order to compare and contrast the two concepts.


The influence of postmodernism is very apparent on much of English literature and
society. With that said, many still have no idea of what it is or attempts to convey.
The purpose of defining and describing is to help gain a sense of what
postmodernism is to increase both understanding as well as enjoyment of
postmodern art.


The definition and description would be best served placed in an English textbook,
one that possibly introduces readers to contemporary English literature and its
theories and concepts.

Technical Definition: Postmodernism

At its core, postmodernism is the theory that there are no innate truths; all is
subjective and objectivity is both tainted and unacceptable. To understand
postmodernism, it must be realized that interpretation is the basis of everything. We
each form our own realities based on these interpretations of the world around us
as it affect each of us in a different way, hence why objectivity is tainted. If we are all
forming unique realities, then no single one can really be true.

The theory of postmodernism is pessimistic towards the idea of there being a
scientific explanation to everything, thus rejecting what modernisms reliance on
logic has to offer. Logic can be
skewed and manipulated by
societal and culture

With all that said, everything
does have some sense of
purpose. So while no position
or idea is truer or better than
another, everything does
posses its own validity in
each individual

The theory of postmodernism
arose in the 1960s, following
World War II. After the war, there were intense feelings of disillusionment and
disconnect, and the proposals of modernism were becoming increasingly redundant
and harder to believe in. Modernism has been preaching a reliance on self-
awareness, dependence on logic, and the acceptance of universal truths. However, it
appeared that not much good was coming out of these ideas, and so postmodernism
was born.

There is no self, postmodernism says. The idea of a self or of individuality is a false
hope. We are all just products of our societies and cultures, and those are based on
ideologies. Ideologies are biased.

In modernist theory, we are constantly attempting to rationalize our existence with
reason and scientific beliefs, but reason is merely just another prejudiced creation of
man therefore we cannot truly depend on it. Reason can only exist in the context of
individual realities.

Technical Description: Postmodernism

When understood effectively, postmodernism and its influence becomes apparent
all around us, whether it be in literature, film, architecture or often times even just
how people conduct and express themselves.

Postmodern literature is easily distinguishable. It often includes a pessimistic or
negative tone, sometimes with a main character that is sort of an outcast to society
looking for answers that he cannot find as postmodernism dictates. This is apparent
is novels such as Bret Easton Ellis Less Than Zero and
Chuck Palahniuks Fight Club. Another example of
postmodern literature, perhaps one of the most famous
and best examples is Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart.
In this landmark novel, postmodernism holds the entire
story together as missionaries attempt to force their
own ideologies on another group of people and cultures
clash, due to the postmodern belief that cultural ideals
are subjective and not dependable in all places.

Second to literature, perhaps the best medium to gain
an understanding of postmodernism and to distinguish
and recognize it from modernism is architecture. Simply
put, Los Angeles and New York can be considered to be
cities built upon the influence of modernism. They
inspire logic and reason; they seem to serve a purpose
and each building runs in to the next, existing
cohesively. When one thinks of these
cities, they make thing of the academic or
scientific advances made within them,
and all the business purposes they have.
All that said, a city such as Las Vegas
would be the opposite. In essence, Las
Vegas is postmodernism epitomized.
While New York looks to serve a purpose
and look a certain way, Las Vegas exists
merely for entertainment. With no
objective truths in our existence, then a
purpose cannot truly exist either. We are
each merely existence to fulfill our own
personal needs and desires, and this is
showed in the bustling action that takes
place within the hustling and greed of Las Vegas. There is very little that happens in
that city that contributes to society as a whole; its all absurd and pointless.
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