Jameson's Postmodernism at 30 (Proposed Special Session, MLA 2021, January 7-10, Toronto, ON)

deadline for submissions: 
March 23, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Ian Butcher / Fanshawe College
contact email: 

Although Jameson's original essay was published in the New Left Review in 1984, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism appeared in 1991 and became one of the definitive texts on the topic. Wide ranging in its subject matter, it was equally likely to be discussed in terms of its Marxist analysis and emphasis on spatial questions with David Harvey's The Conditions of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, its readings of novels and films and focus on aesthetics alongside Linda Hutcheon's A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction and Brian McHale's Postmodernist Fiction, or its epistemological concerns next to Jean-Francois Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge and Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation. Removed by some two decades from postmodernism's status as a hot topic in literary and cultural studies, is Postmodernism still relevant? Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism, one of the most influential leftist texts of the 2010s, for example, is framed as an extension of Jameson's now-outmoded thesis. Has the rise of right-wing conspiracy theories on "cultural Marxism" in mainstream cultural conversations, to say nothing of the attacks by figures like Jordan Peterson on postmodernism and the intellectual formations he has confusingly termed termed "postmodernist neo-Marxism," given the text--a critical account of postmodernism from a Marxist perspective--a new relevance? Beyond questions of relevance, how can Postmodernism's influence and legacy be characterized? Are its breadth, scope, or style still present in literary studies, or were they ever widely adopted or imitated? Did Postmodernism serve as a model for the "big" study of a topic, or has it remained a singular text? Has Jameson's impact been felt more in his "methodological" books (The Prison House of Language, Marxism and Form, The Political Unconscious) or his late career "return" to literary studies (Antinomies of Realism, Raymond Chandler: The Directions of Totality, Allegory and Ideology), or in another arm of his prodigious output? Finally, in a time where tenure-track appointments are the exception in the face of an ever-growing army of underpaid and overworked adjuncts, part-time faculty, and graduate students and support for scholarship and research continues to dwindle, if it is available at all, does Postmodernism represent a form of scholarship whose conditions of production no longer exist? Does it literally mark another era? Does that change how we understand its impact, legacy, and ongoing relevance? Address these or any other questions in considering what this text means at 30.

250 word abstracts and 100 word bios to ianbutcher at gmail dot com by Monday, March 23, 2020.