Closing the Modern-Postmodern Divide – Toward a History of Visual Parody, Session at CAA Conference, New York 2007

CAA – IAWIS Special Session
New York, February 14-17, 2007

In the visual arts a post-modernist critique has been launched against a modernist paradigm circumscribed and defined by Clement Greenberg. In this encounter, formalism is taken as the target to deconstruct and demythologize. However, it can be argued that such a discourse reinforces the evolutionary historiography about modernism as a progressively abstract means of representation. As a result, the post-modern critique continues a dialogue with that which it devalues, and in doing so, further validates the history it wants to discredit. The topic of this session seeks to locate, excavate, and substantiate another modernist genealogy. This project proposes a history that issues from nineteenth-century practices of irony, parody, paradox and defies an evolutionary, progressive development, a history that is impelled by a subversion of the status quo, whether that be a conventional means of representation or a dominant social norm or ideology. What is of concern here, is that irony, parody, and paradox have also been identified as the characteristic motives of the post-modern episteme. Critics and historians across the disciplines have rendered parody central, if not unique, to postmodernists’ strategies for subverting modernist values and practices.

This (re)occurrence of parodic practices raises a fundamental question regarding the viability of modernism and postmodernism as distinct, if not oppositional, historical periods. Alternatively, by shifting our focus away from a purist modernism to a subversive modernism, a historical continuum between the nineteenth century and the late twentieth century comes into view. Papers are invited that address such a continuum, either by treating individual artists or movements. Proposals from all disciplines that contribute to such a history will be considered. Special consideration will be given to those papers that cut across disciplines to show how word-and-image exchanges, that codify parodic practices, bring together what are traditionally considered discrete domains of cultural practice.

Please address further inquiries with regard to this session to:
Professor Lauren S. Weingarden, Florida State University,