A Guide to Postmodern
Lester Faigley, in his introduction to Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition, says,
What Faigley calls a "growing awareness" is also represented in critical, scholarly journals. A variety of journals have originated as postmodern and from their beginnings have concerned themselves with postmodern issues. Other journals have endured the changes of postmodernity and these changes can be seen in the journals' mission statements and article choices.
I will discuss some journals that reflect the cultural changes brought about by postmodernity and some that have found their birth in a postmodern world to demonstrate that Faigley's "growing awareness" is reflected in today's scholarly forums.
Diacritics, according to its web site (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/diacritics/), has been "Doing French Studies" for a quarter of a century. Diacritics is published either three or four times a year and is available in print or as an electronic journal. Some sample articles are available on the Diacritics webpage along with a table of contents for current and back issues. Published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, Diacritics finds itself as a part of a highly esteemed network of scholarly journals.
Its editors, Jonathan
Culler and Richard Klein, profess that the journal is for scholars who
are writing on the problems of literary criticism. Although the articles
published in Diacritics are primarily postmodern, each issue
is designed to elicit a broad range of theoretical positions so that
the authors and readers can work on their own theoretical positions
and analyze the
While Diacritics is not necessarily engineered with a postmodern philosophy in mind, a good amount of the published articles contained in its pages concern themselves with issues of postmodernity. Both the spring issue of 1996 and the fall issue of 1997 feature articles on Heidegger's philosophy, one of Derrida's influences. A Derridean influence can be seen in most issues of Diacritics. This influence may be due in part to its editor Jonathan Culler who published On Deconstruction in 1982. The fall-winter issue of 1996 contains an article about African-American criticism entitled "The Black Deconstruction." In the summer of 1997 Georges Van den Abbeele published an article examining the speech/writing paradox entitled "The Persecution of Writing: Revising Strauss and Censorship." The winter issue of 1997 contains an article about Paul de Man's aesthetic ideologies.
The most current issue from the spring of 1999 contains a heavy Derridean influence. Two review articles appear with Derrida's name in the title. "After Derrida" and "Derrida and Autobiography" show that Diacritics does concern itself, at least in part, with Derrida's deconstruction. This preoccupation with Derrida demonstrates willingness on the part of Diacritics' editors to publish a postmodern journal.
Post-Modern Culture is an online journal that has recently become affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University Press and Project Muse. Its website requires a subscription price for articles, but it does contain valuable links to postmodern websites and some full-text representations of selected articles free of charge. Postmodern Culture, since its inception in September of 1990, has been published three times annually and can be found on the internet (http://jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU:80/pmc/contents.all.html).
As the name of the journal implies, Postmodern Culture is primarily concerned with issues of postmodernity. Edited by Lisa Brawley, Jim English, and Stuart Moulthrop, this journal functions as a review of postmodern literature as well as cultural and social issues. Each issue contains critical essays on various topics and several book reviews. The range of topics in this interdisciplinary journal is broad. The most recent issue contains a book review of Memory, Orality, Literacy, Joyce, and the Imaginary: A Virtual History of Cyberculture by Donald F. Theall alongside David Banash's review of The Blair Witch Project entitled "The Blair Witch Project: Technology, Repression, and the Evisceration of Mimesis." Articles such as these show Postmodern Culture as a forum for interdisciplinary discourse and pop culture studies. Postmodern Culture, however, does contain an ample amount of "pure" theory.
The January issue in 1999 features an article from Lee Morissey entitled, "Derrida, Algeria, and 'Structure, Sign, and Play'." The September issue of 1997 contains a book review of David Herman's work, "Structuralism's Fortunate Fall." Postmodern Culture is primarily a journal concentrating on interdisciplinary issues of postmodernity and postmodern cultural phenomena.
Postmodern Studies is a journal published in Amsterdam, Netherlands and edited by Theo D'haen and Hans Bertens. Postmodern Studies began publishing journals in 1989 and has since been continuing to publish at irregular intervals.
According to information
on its website (http://www.rodopi.nl/home.htm), Postmodern Studies,
"aims to accommodate articles and monographs on literary developments
and phenomena related to the movement or current customarily indicated
by the term
Each issue of Postmodern Studies contains a different sub-title that ties together the articles in the issue. A preface is provided in each issue, as well, that delivers a thesis for the particular set of articles and their purpose. Almost every issue's sub-title contains the word "Postmodern," emphasizing this journal's driving focus.
The title of the most current issue, for example, is "The Postmodern Challenge." The introduction to this issue declares that "this volume is designed to bridge a gap in the current theoretical debate about the nature, scope, and relevance of postmodern perspectives in the humanist and social sciences in Eastern and Western Europe." Some of the articles included in this issue are "Postmodernity East and West" by Strath and Witoxzek, "Will Bosnia Survive Postmodernism?" by Mestrovic, and "The Postmodern Challenge: A Constant Factor of German History in the Last Two Centuries" by Briesen.
The variety of articles accepted by Postmodern Studies shows its interesting blend of straight theory and cultural study. Purely theoretical articles such as Witoszek's "The Fetish of Dialogue in Postmodern Discourse" are published alongside Korner's "The Construction of Bourgeois Identity in National and in Urban Context: Bologna after Italian Unification" and Suraska's "Mikhail Gorbachev as a postmodern hero," which are politically charged essays. Postmodern Studies serves as a very effective forum for international discussions of postmodern issues as they apply globally to theory and culture.
Cultronix is an online journal of art and cultural studies. The first issue of Cultronix was posted in the fall of 1994, and it has since been succeeded by three issues published at irregular intervals. The editorial board for Cultronix provides an effective demonstration of its non-traditional qualities; the editors for this journal are primarily graduate students:
"Marni Borek is a master's student in the Literary and Cultural Theory program in the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University. Geoff Sauer and John Eperjesi are doctoral students in the same program. Terri Palmer is a Ph.D. student in the CMU Rhetoric Program. And Camilla Griggers is an assistant professor in the Literary and Cultural Theory Program" (Cultronix web page).
The Cultronix web page claims that the journal is an interdisciplinary attempt to address "critical issues in contemporary institutions and practices." Another goal that the authors of the journal's web page address is to encourage the use of new media in order to "expand critical and theoretical work to the internet reading audiences." Each issue of Cultronix is loosely assembled around a particular focus or issue.
Issue #5, yet to be published, is titled "Position/Possession." This issue is set to discuss the issue of possession in terms of the effects that the internet has had on our perception of boundaries and ownership. Cultronix editors have called for manuscripts that discuss how the internet has been "territorialized" using spatial metaphors like web, highway, mall, and market and how these cultural geographies demonstrate the manner in which we understand the world in terms of property.
An examination of article titles reveals the diversity of Cultronix's publications. Articles like "Wallowing in the Quagmire of Language" show at least an interest in English Studies. Other articles like "AIDS Research, Contagion and the Discovery of HIV" show Cultronix's desire to create discourse along interdisciplinary boundaries. The Cultronix web site contains a search engine. Using the word 'postmodern' as query results in a listing of ten articles from this journal's existing four issues. The article titles in Cultronix are so diverse that it is difficult to put any specific theoretical label on a "philosophy" that underlies its creation; however, Cultronix is certainly postmodern.
Animus calls itself a "Philosophic Journal For Our Time." Animus finds its home at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Animus has been published only once a year since 1996. The editorial board for this journal consists mainly of Canadian scholars such as Floy E. Andrews and D.K. House. Paul Epstein, who is from Oklahoma State University, also edits Animus. The brief biographical entries on the journal's web page deliver some information about each of the editors. While their interests are slightly diversified, each of Animus's editors is highly entrenched in a canonical, classical Western tradition. This is reflected in the journal's articles.
The editors of Animus consider this journal to be an attempt to understand the works of Western tradition and the current views of these works. Animus's primary focus is Western civilization and the philosophy, literature, theology, politics, and science of Western culture. Our conception of Western culture, as the Animus web page states, has become "fragmented and obscured." The editors of Animus have made it their aim to contribute "toward a restored comprehension of the chief works and arguments of the Western tradition."
The first issue, published in December of 1996, contains an article entitled "Post Modernism and the Recovery of the Philosophical Tradition." The second issue from December of 1997 contains Kenneth Kierans article "Beyond Deconstruction." Animus does not profess to be a "postmodern" journal; however, the saturation of articles related to deconstruction are a testament to Derrida's, and other post-modern theorist's, influence on Western culture. Paradoxically, Animus's editors are attempting to restore comprehension of Western tradition by embracing postmodern theory, which is often seen as "fragmented and obscured."
What Faigley calls
a "growing awareness of randomness, ambiguity, and chaos"
is becoming increasingly evident in scholarly journals. Postmodernity
has affected both the manner in which journals are created and the content
of those journals. Journals
Diacritics and Postmodern Culture are available in both print and electronic form, broadening the range of access and expanding the boundaries that contain traditional scholarly journal publication. The internet has also provided a forum for scholarly journals to reach an international audience. Postmodern Studies is edited in Amsterdam, yet it can still reach a global market with the help of technology.
Postmodernity has also had an effect on the contents of scholarly journals. Journals like Postmodern Culture have been created as a forum for discourse specifically about postmodernism. The pages of other journals, whose editors have not laid out mission statements with overt references to postmodernity, are saturated with articles dealing with postmodern issues and problems.
Animus. Memorial University of Newfoundland. 7 Dec. 1999 .
Cultronix. Carnegie Mellon. 7 Dec. 1999 .
Diacritics. Johns Hopkins University Press. 7 Dec. 1999.
Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.
Postmodern Culture. Johns Hopkins University Press. 7 Dec. 1999 .