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By Linda Hutcheon

Half I
1 Theorizing the postmodern: towards a poetics
2 Modelling the postmodern: parody and politics
3 proscribing the postmodern: the paradoxical aftermath of modernism
4 Decentering the postmodern: the ex-centric
5 Contextualizing the postmodern: enunciation and the revenge of “parole”
6 Historicizing the postmodern: the problematizing of history

7 Historiographic metafiction: “the hobby of previous time”
8 Intertextuality, parody, and the discourses of history
9 the matter of reference
10 topic in/of/to historical past and his story
11 Discourse, energy, ideology: humanism and postmodernism
12 Political double-talk
13 end: a poetics or a problematics?

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It is closer to Martin Johnson’s more extreme Ovenden House, with its definitely ironic echoes of the Victorian polychromatic church, of flying buttresses, and of medieval gunslits in its thick masonry. Parodic echoing of the past, even with this kind of irony, can still be deferential. It is in this way that postmodern parody marks its paradoxical doubleness of both continuity and change, both authority and transgression. Postmodernist parody, be it in architecture, literature, painting, film, or music, uses its historical memory, its aesthetic introversion, to signal that this kind of self-reflexive discourse is always inextricably bound to social discourse.

Whatever the cause, a poetics of postmodernism should try to come to grips with some of the obvious paradoxes in both theory and practice. Let me offer just a few more examples: one would be the contradiction or irony of Lyotard’s (1984a) obviously meta-narrative theory of postmodernism’s incredulity to meta-narrative (see Lacoue-Labarthe 1984) or of Foucault’s early anti-totalizing epistemic totalizations. These are typically paradoxical: they are the masterful denials of mastery, the cohesive attacks on cohesion, the essentializing challenges to essences, that characterize postmodern theory.

The odd combination of the empirical and the rational in modernist theory was meant to suggest a scientific determinism that was to combat the cumulative power and weight of all that had been inherited from the past. Faith in the rational, scientific mastery of reality implicitly—then explicitly—denied the inherited, evolved cultural continuity of history. It is perhaps a loss of faith in these modernist values that has led to postmodernist architecture today. The practitioners of this new mode form an eclectic grouping, sharing only a sense of the past (though not a “random” one) and a desire to return to the idea of architecture as both communication and community (despite the fact that both of these concepts, from a postmodern Modelling the Postmodern 29 perspective, now have a distinctly problematic and decentralized ring to them).

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