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Record Type: Review   ID: 712

Teaching the Postmodern: Fiction and Theory

Marshall, Brenda J.

 This book by a free-lance writer who has a Ph.D. is quite unusual. As much as is possible, it sheds considerable light on murky questions such as what is structuralism, poststructural-ism, modernism, postmodernism, countermemory, historiogra-phic metafiction, the critique of subjectivity and of repre-sentation? It is unusual in that to the extent that it is possible Marshall gives the reader not just some sense of the meaning of these terms but some feel of them. She surrounds a term with a ripple of words until its meaning springs clear. This is a very literate work also, and where relevant she quotes from many writers and novelists on postmodern-related terms. Although Marshall is not a classroom teacher, she is skilled in instruction, for she provides moments of lucidity amidst situated knowledge. After the Introduction, in which she defines postmodernism and writes a bit on its relationship to other movements such as poststructualism, feminist writing, and ethnic theory, six chapters compose the book. Each deals with one or more novelists and novels to illustrate structuralism, the critique of representations, the critique of subjectivity, text and intertextuality, countermemory and historiographic metafiction, and with all of these—the need to resist closure. To Marshall, the immense potential of postmodernism "is for diversity of thought. It is a potential which demands extraordinary responsibility. These are powerful tools" (p. 193). This volume is of special interest to exceptional human experience because in any account of any EHE what we have is a text. How we see that text and what we are able to do with it is inextricably related to how we stand in relation to the critiques of representation and subjectivity. Can EHEs show us anything beyond situated knowledge? That has always been the question, but Marshall helps us to ask it in a different way.
Publisher Information:New York: Routledge, 1992. 213p. Bibl: 201-207; Chap. notes: 195-199; Index: 209-213
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