What is a good example of a postmodern "hero"?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The first character that comes to mind (and probably the most "postmodern" of all literary heroes) is Slothrop from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. This is a touchstone novel in the postmodern literary movement and Slothrop demonstrates many traits of this artistic bent. 

He is challenged to navigate an incredible series of influences, from jazz to mathematics, as he attempts heroic deeds. However, he falls out of the novel when there are hundreds of pages of story still remaining.

By the end of thenovel, Slothrop's identity seems to have disintegrated altogether, and it is unclear what becomes of him.

This is quite postmodern, indicative of the author's interest in broken stories, in challenging arbitrary narrative conventions, and in commenting on the difficulty of fusing disparate cultural influences.


This novel may be too much of a stretch for your project as it is quite difficult and also nearly a thousand pages. 

Other figures you might explore from postmodern literature are Professory Jack Gladney from Don DeLillo's White Noiseand Eugene Debs Hartke from Kurt Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus. Each of these characters is expressive of a commentary on problems of conscience growing from the marriage of consumerism and morality in today's world. 

Perhaps these characters and these texts fall outside the scope of strictly "popular" texts and films you are currently focused on. Examples of more pop-oriented, postmodern literary heroes might include the protagonists from The Hunger Games and the works of Steig Larson.

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rupakc | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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Postmodern Culture or "Postmodernity": Our current period in history has been called by many the postmodern age (or "postmodernity") and many contemporary critics are understandably interested in making sense of the time in which they live. Although an admirable endeavor, such critics inevitably run into difficulties given the sheer complexity of living in history: we do not yet know which elements in our culture will win out and we do not always recognize the subtle but insistent ways that changes in our society affect our ways of thinking and being in the world. One symptom of the present's complexity is just how divided critics are on the question of postmodern culture, with a number of critics celebrating our liberation and a number of others lamenting our enslavement. In order to keep clear the distinction between postmodernity and postmodernism, each set of modules includes an initial module on how each critic makes sense of our current postmodern age (or "postmodernity"). Postmodern Theory or "Postmodernism": I will attempt to be consistent in using "postmodernism" to refer to a group of critics who, inspired often by the postmodern culture in which they live, attempt to rethink a number of concepts held dear by Enlightenment humanism and many modernists, including subjectivity, temporality, referentiality, progress, empiricism, and the rule of law. "Postmodernism" also refers to the aesthetic/cultural products that treat and often critique aspects of "postmodernity." The modules introduce some of the important concepts that have been introduced by postmodernist theorists to supplant or temper the values of traditional humanism. Given how the "postmodern" refers to our entire historical period, some of the theorists who have influenced postmodern theory are included not in the Modules but in other sections of this Guide to Theory. Judith Butler's use of the concept of performativity, for example, has been extremely influential on postmodernism but I have chosen to discuss her in the Modules under Gender and Sex. The same may be said about Michel Foucault, who I discuss in the Modules for New Historicism. Before I turn to a quick overview of the theorists discussed in the Postmodernism Modules, I will begin by offering up a necessarily truncated historical overview in order to situate postmodernity within the major historical movements that have shaped subjectivity in the Western hemisphere over the last four thousand years. In other words, one cannot properly understand our current age without understanding exactly what came before. How can we understand the full force of that "post" without understanding not only the modern but also the premodern?

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