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Difference Between Modernism and Postmodernism

Main Difference

The main difference between modernism and postmodernism is that modernism is a movement that started from the 19th or early 20th century, whereas the movement of postmodernism begun after the Second World War.

Modernism vs. Postmodernism

The movement of modernism started from the 19th or early 20th century. The movement of postmodernism begun after the Second World War, but it became famous in the 1960s. Modernism has a rational approach. It gives importance to science, logic, and reason. Postmodernism has an irrational approach to things. It denied the logical thinking and logical ways of gaining knowledge.

Modernism had a belief in universally true and reasonable conclusions, whereas postmodernism did not believe in universal truth. Modernism believed in Western hegemonic values. Postmodernism rejects Western hegemonic values. Modernism movement characterized by art. The works of artists considered as unique creations. Authors and artists were anxious about producing art and literary works. While the postmodernism movement was characterized by the field of technology, its advancement, and its use in different areas.

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Modernism shows less interest in the field of politics. Postmodernism showed a significant influence on politics. The language of modernism was transparent. It was a type of language having one to one relationship between the signifier and signified. The communication of postmodernism is fluid and arbitrary. It was the type of communication that was rooted in power-knowledge relations.

In the modernist school of thought, there is a stable and coherent “self” that is independent of culture and society. In the postmodernist school of thought, the “self” is considered a myth. It believed to be composed of social experiences and cultural contexts. There is no real definition of self in postmodernism. Modernism focuses more on the writer and interiority of text. However, postmodernism focuses more on the reader and exteriority of the text. Modernism constructs a coherent view of the world. Postmodernism tends to remove the difference between high and low.

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Comparison Chart

ModernismPostmodernism
A movement that started from the 19th or early 20th centuryA movement that started after the Second World War
Language
TransparentFluid and arbitrary
Approach
Rational and scientificIrrational and unscientific
Text Focus
InteriorityExteriority
Interest in Politics
It showedIt did not show
Literary Conventions
RejectionParody
Characterized By
ArtTechnology

What is Modernism?

Modernism is a famous school of thought which started from the 19th or early 20th century in Europe and North America. Modernism supported the objective approach to life. Modernists were optimistic about absolute values and ethics to run the world successfully. This movement was the reformation in the fields of art, music, and literature. In the modernist school of thought, there is a stable and coherent “self” that is independent of culture and society. Modernism also refers to Neo-Classical. It adheres to the enlightenment assumptions concerning the role reason, or rationality, or scientific reasoning. It tried to improve every aspect of life with science and technology.

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Modernism was driven by the belief that a person can learn much from the past that could be beneficial to the present. Modernism believed in Western hegemonic values. It gave importance to science, logic, and reason. Modernism had a belief in universally true and reasonable conclusions. It gave the concept of freedom in the form of democracy and free markets. Modernism constructs a coherent view of the world. Modernism theory of knowledge connects knowledge to reality. The reality, according to modernism, is something based not on facts but the interpretation of facts.

Modernism movement characterized by art. The works of artists considered as unique creations. Authors and artists were anxious about producing art and literary works. The language of modernism was transparent. It was a type of language having one to one relationship between the signifier and signified. Modernism focuses more on the writer and interiority of text. Modernism adopted traditional styles of poetry and verse, along with new literary forms and expressions. It also promoted experimental writing styles, such as the stream of consciousness and interior monologue.

What is Postmodernism?

The movement of postmodernism is the period after modernism. It started after the Second World War, but it became famous in the 1960s. Postmodernism has an irrational approach to things. It had an unscientific approach to life. It denied the logical thinking and logical ways of gaining knowledge. The postmodernism movement characterized by the field of technology, its advancement, and its use in different areas. The language of postmodernism is fluid and arbitrary. It was the type of communication that was rooted in power-knowledge relations.

In the postmodernist school of thought, the “self” is considered a myth. It supposed to be a composite of social experiences and cultural contexts. The concept of identity in postmodernism is fluid and performative. Identities are known to be the masks to perform our “selves” like actors on a stage. It rejected Western hegemonic values. It showed a significant influence on politics. The postmodern texts are simple and clear. However, postmodernism focuses more on the reader and exteriority of the text.

The main features of postmodernism include the ambivalent stance towards realism, the irony in narration, the use of new techniques in literature like metafiction, black humor, intertextuality, irony, and pastiche. Postmodernism tends to remove the difference between high and low. Postmodernism advocated the belief that there is no universal truth.

Key Differences

  1. The movement of modernism started from the 19th or early 20th century, whereas the movement of postmodernism started after the Second World War, but it became famous in the 1960s.
  2. The language of modernism was transparent; on the other hand, the language of postmodernism is fluid and arbitrary.
  3. Modernism has a rational approach, while postmodernism has an irrational approach to things.
  4. Modernism focuses more on the writer and interiority of text on the converse; postmodernism focuses more on the reader and exteriority of the text.
  5. Modernism had a belief in universally true and reasonable beliefs; inversely, postmodernism did not believe in universal truth.
  6. Modernism believed in Western hegemonic values contrarily postmodernism rejects Western hegemonic values.
  7. Modernism shows less interest in the field of politics; on the flip side, postmodernism showed a great influence on politics.
  8. Modernism movement characterized by art; on the contrary, the postmodernism movement characterized by the field of technology, its advancement, and its use in different areas.
  9. In the modernist school of thought, there is the existence of a stable and coherent “self” that is independent of culture and society. Conversely, in the postmodernist school of thought, the “self” is considered as a myth and a composite of a person’s social experiences and cultural contexts.
  10. There is a rejection of literary conventions in modernism movement; on the other side, there is the parody of literary conventions in postmodernism.

Conclusion

Modernism and postmodernism are the two different and famous schools of thought. Both these movements are different from each other based on their concepts, values, focus areas, etc.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson