Emeritus Bookshelf

Utopia Limited: The Sixties and the Emergence of the Postmodern

  • Published Date: 2004

Marianne DeKoven
Duke University Press, 2004

Utopia LimitedProfessor DeKoven describes the Sixties as the dividing line between modernism and postmodernism. She considers the "long Sixties" (from the late Fifties to the early Seventies) as dominantly modern, with postmodernism as the emergent culture pivoting on feminism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the politics of subjectivity. To reveal the newfound appreciation for popular culture as distinct from high culture and the avant-garde, Professor DeKoven discusses figures like Roland Barthes, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, and philosopher Herbert Marcuse, whom Professor DeKoven describes as having modern ideas (revolution, dualism, absolute) while showing traits of the postmodern (working from within, partial, relative). Toni Morrison's Beloved and E.L. Doctorow's The Waterworks are examined as representative postmodern ideas of utopia. The chapter on Vietnam, in which the author discusses Frances Fitzgerald's Fire in the Lake, provides a good overview of that book's themes as well as the general spirit of the Sixties.