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Title:  Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism Author:  Raoul Eshelman Imprint:  The Davies Group, Publishers soft cover 284 pp. USD 27.00 ISBN 9781888570410 2008 Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism is the first book to offer a systematic theory of culture after postmodernism. The book maintains that we have entered a new, monist epoch in which aesthetically imposed belief replaces endless irony as the dominant force in culture. This new cultural dominant, which the author calls performatism, works by artificially “framing” readers or viewers in such a way that they have no choice but to accept the external givens of a work and identify with the characters within it. In short, they are forcibly made to believe—if only within an particular aesthetic context. This basic procedure can be shown to operate not only in narrative genres like film and literature, but also in visual ones like art and architecture. This new aesthetic is documented in well-known films and novels such as American Beauty, The Celebration, Life of Pi, Middlesex, and The God of Small Things as well as in the work of major architects and artists such as Sir Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Andreas Gursky, Neo Rauch, and Vanessa Beecroft. Contents Introduction Chapter One: Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism (American Beauty) Chapter Two: Performatism in Literature Chapter Three: Performatism in the Movies Chapter Four: Performatism in Architecture Chapter Five: Performatism in Theory: The New Monism Chapter Six: Performatism in Art Index Reviews “(Professor) Eshelman, in his attempt to define an alternative to postmodernism as aesthetic and philosophical paradigm, manages to deliver his theoretical vision without mandatory jargon, lucidly and straightforwardly, yet without oversimplification… Through the concise, yet insightful analysis of literature, film, architecture, theory, and visual art, Professor Eshelman develops a concept of a new monism that overcomes the postmodernist split within the act of signification by making ‘viewers or readers believe rather than convince them with cognitive arguments’.” — Professor Mark Leiderman University of Colorado “. . . Eshelman—steeped in the tradition of cultural semiotics practiced by the Soviet Tartu school, but equally conversant with Derridean deconstruction and post-feminist theory—convincingly reasons that it would make little sense to declare the end of postmodernism without having some sense of what its alternative might look like. This alternative (monism) is a mode of cultural production that may remind readers of the eighteenth century rather more than the twentieth, even though it resolutely abandons the claims to transcendence that characterize eighteenth-century rationalist monism. . . . Eshelman’s global monism—described in admirably casual yet unfailingly precise prose that takes things in quite literally in its stride—is remarkably well adapted to a world mired in the Manichean struggle between (mono-) theism and pluralist, secular liberalism. Initially skeptical, this reviewer soon found himself to be in agreement with many of Eshelman’s surprisingly seamless applications of his theory.... Eshelman’s study is highly recommended, not only for those who are tired of postmodernism, but also and especially for those who harbor hope that it may still have life in it—and of course for those who wonder what post-post postmodernism might look like.” — Sven Spieker (University of California, Santa Barbara) Author Raoul Eshelman is a German-American Slavist who has written extensively on problems of literary history and postmodernism. He received his Ph.D. in Slavic literature from Konstanz University (1988) and his Habilitation from the University of Hamburg (1995). His most recent book is Early Soviet Postmodernism (1997). He is presently Coordinator of the East European Studies Honors Program for Slavics at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.
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