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From here to modernity

The two dominant cultural movements of our century-modernism and post-modernism-were marked by the turmoil of two world wars and a cold war. But they remain almost impossible to define, even with hindsight. As "fin de millennium" anxieties start to close in on the artistic consciousness, Malcolm Bradbury asks what comes after post-modernism?

By Malcolm Bradbury   December 1995

Large epochal terms have always been both popular and unpopular with historians: popular because they help define the obvious fact that there are seismic shifts in the processes of history, the structure of culture, the nature of collective consciousness, and the aesthetics, styles and preoccupations of the arts; unpopular because they paste over fundamental differences, and generate endless quarrels about what such terms may really be said to define. The topic of “modernism” is, in this respect, exemplary.

The term is widely deployed, as being of acknowledged usefulness; it’s also an endless matter for dissent. No one is quite sure…

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