Postmodernism Questions and Answers

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What is the result of the rejection of metanarratives?

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The term "metanarrative" is usually used to refer to a large organizing principle for understanding development, especially historical development. Postmodernists, and many other modern scholars reject metanarratives because they do not seem to encompass a broad enough spectrum of human experience. Many Americans, for example, would embrace the metanarrative of advancing liberty for understanding American history. A postmodernist approach (one which has become almost universal among historians) would emphasize that American history does not reflect such progress, or perhaps even that it does not make sense to even speak of one single American history, because there are so many different groups of people who have had so many different experiences. In literary terms, a meta-narrative might be, as one scholar points out, "truth and justice," which, a reader can assume, will (or ought to) prevail in a story. Postmodernist literature tends to invert or complicate the relationship between these metanarratives and the actual narrative itself.

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