Hans Bertens’ The Idea of the Postmodern: A History


“Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say, ‘yes!'”–Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters

“Jason, when someone asks you if you know pomo, you say, ‘yes!'”-Not Hans Bertens

Well, nothing really funny happened while I was reading postmodern theory, but I did have a small epiphany when I finished reading Hans Bertens’ superb history of postmodern theory. I realized that I should have read this book at the beginning of the Summer when I was reading other postmodern theory. Bertens lays out the major arguments, he charts the connections and conversations, and he comes down pragmatically on who is important and whose time has past in regard to the major debates. I feel very foolish for not starting with a broad overview of the field, and it is probably due to my attempt at working through the conversation beginning with Ihab Hassan that I decided to turn to a history of the discourse rather than continuing the way that I was.

So, the bottom line is that you should begin with Bertens if you’re easing your way into postmodern theory. It will save you some time and help you be more strategic with your reading.