WHAT IS METAMODERNISM?

A Quick Intro to What Is Emerging After Postmodernism


QUICK VERSION

In the sequence of cultural paradigms (traditional, modern, postmodern, etc.), metamodernism follows after postmodernism. In incorporating seemingly antithetical sensibilities from the prior paradigms (e.g., idealism and skepticism, hope and doubt, earnestness and cynicism), it is characterized by such seeming paradoxes as "ironic sincerity," "informed naivete," and "pragmatic idealism."


Since its introduction within the field of cultural studies, the term has been expanded by various thinkers into a prescriptive philosophical and political movement. Generally speaking, all such efforts are metamodern to the extent that they would seek to move beyond postmodernism and its pitfalls while still integrating certain of its perceived insights.




LONGER VERSION

The term metamodernism originated within cultural studies. It was popularized by Dutch cultural theorists Tim Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker as a way to understand new artistic and cultural works that no longer conformed to typical postmodern trends (e.g., of ironic distance, hyper-self-reflection, deconstruction, etc.). Instead, new trends in the arts suggested a qualified return to sincerity, idealism, reconstruction, etc.---without forfeiting the critical awareness so emphasized by postmodernism. Vermeulen and van den Akker referred to this new post-postmodern cultural sensibility as "metamodernism."


You can learn more about their articulation of the idea here:



For more on metamodernism as a cultural phase, see this video.


Since its introduction via cultural theory, the idea of metamodernism has subsequently been expanded upon by additional thinkers. Whereas Vermeulen and van den Akker saw metamodernism as an oscillation between typically modern and postmodern attitudes, the more expansive understanding tends to see metamodernism as a synthesis of all the previous cultural paradigms. In some contexts, this expansive trajectory is understood within the logic of developmental theories, both individual (human developmental psychology) and social (cultural evolution). Generally speaking, metamodernism in this vein transcends mere cultural description and seeks instead prescriptive transformations for society, especially in light of the urgent "meta-crisis" (the multi-pronged climatological, economic, and political emergencies currently unfolding). It is thus linked to various activist efforts among a loose community of movements some are calling the "liminal web."


You can learn more about the ways metamodernism is deployed in this broader context here:



For more on the "liminal web," see this essay.



Additional Resources

For Vermeulen and van den Akker's seminal 2010 essay on the topic, see "Notes on Metamodernism"


For a primer on metamodernism in its more expansive senses, see this excellent essay by Gregg Henriques on the Psychology Today blog entited "What is Metamodernism?"


Important books on the topic include Lene Rachel Andersen's Metamodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World and the anthology Metamodernity: Disptatches from a Time Between Worlds. See also my book Metamodernism and the Return of Transcendence, and the YouTube video series "After Postmodernism" based on it.

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