• Please discuss the connections between Glengarry Glen Ross and postmodernism. In other words, what makes this play postmodernist? As you respond to this prompt consider this observation of Mamet’s: “what I write about is what I think is missing from our society. And that’s communication on a basic level” (quoted in Norton Anthology of American Literature: Vol E: Literature since 1945, 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2012, p. 1008).
• In your response, please be sure to discuss one or more of the elements we use to discuss drama such as plot, character, setting, dialogue, and theme.
• Include quotes and particulars from the play in your reaction paper.
• Write one question that came to your mind as you were completing this assignment.
• Your paper needs to be 2 pages in length (double space, 12 pt.). Please be sure to include your first and last name in the upper left hand corner of the first page of your paper.
• Cite your sources using the MLA citations style.
• Follow directions and grading rubric.
Grading Criteria for Unit V: Reaction Paper No. 4
CLOSE READING OF TEXT: Demonstrated close reading of the play based on specific references to the text (e.g. characters, scenes, stage directions) (8 Points)
8 6 4 2 1
DISCUSSION OF POSTMODERNISM: Connected aspects of the play to postmodernism (6 Points)
6 5 4 3 2
COHERENCE: Provided thoughtful reflections on the play. (10 Points)
10 8 6 4 2
CORRECTNESS: Writing contains no serious mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. (6 Points)
6 5 4 3 2
QUESTION: Provided thought-provoking question (2 Points)
A disputed term that has occupied much recent debate about contemporary culture since the early 1980s. In its simplest and least satisfactory sense it refers generally to the phase of 20th-century Western culture that succeeded the reign of high modernism, thus indicating the products of the age of mass television since the mid-1950s. More often, though, it is applied to a cultural condition prevailing in the advanced capitalist societies since the 1960s, characterized by a superabundance of disconnected images and styles—most noticeably in television, advertising, commercial design, and pop video. In this sense, promoted by Jean Baudrillard and other commentators, postmodernity is said to be a culture of fragmentary sensations, eclectic nostalgia, disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality, in which the traditionally valued qualities of depth, coherence, meaning, originality, and authenticity are evacuated or dissolved amid the random swirl of empty signals.
As applied to literature and other arts, the term is notoriously ambiguous, implying either that modernism has been superseded or that it has continued into a new phase. Postmodernism may be seen as a continuation of modernism’s alienated mood and disorienting techniques and at the same time as an abandonment of its determined quest for artistic coherence in a fragmented world: in very crude terms, where a modernist artist or writer would try to wrest a meaning from the world through myth, symbol, or formal complexity, the postmodernist greets the absurd or meaningless confusion of contemporary existence with a certain numbed or flippant indifference, favouring self-consciously ‘depthless’ works of fabulation, pastiche, bricolage, or aleatory disconnection. The term cannot usefully serve as an inclusive description of all literature since the 1950s or 1960s, but is applied selectively to those works that display most evidently the moods and formal disconnections described above. In poetry, it has been applied most often to the work of the New York school and to Language poetry; in drama mainly to the ‘absurdist’ tradition; but is used more widely in reference to fiction, notably to the novels (or anti-novels) and stories of Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, William S. Burroughs, Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie, Peter Ackroyd, Julian Barnes, Jeanette Winterson, and many of their followers. Some of their works, like Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) and Nabokov’s Ada (1969), employ devices reminiscent of science fiction, playing with contradictory orders of reality or the irruption of the fabulous into the secular world.
Opinion is still divided, however, on the value of the term and of the phenomenon it purports to describe. Those who most often use it tend to welcome ‘the postmodern’ as a liberation from the hierarchy of ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultures; while sceptics regard the term as a symptom of irresponsible academic euphoria about the glitter of consumerist capitalism and its moral vacuity. For more extended discussions, consult Brian McHale, Postmodernist Fiction (1987) and Ian Gregson, Postmodern Literature (2004).
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
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