Research point: Pulp Fiction, postmodernism

Pulp Fiction

I absolutely love Pulp Fiction and I did some research on the Internet to delve into later, in connection with Part Three of this course.

Some useful resources:

On Wikipedia there is a particularly well written article on Tarantino’s film at: (Accessed 16.11.16)

I also found an interesting article on a website on script writing,, at: (Accessed 16.11.16)

Among the reviews of this film, there is some material in The Guardian, and an especially good one in The York Times at: (Accessed 16.11.16)



I bought the Kindle edition of the book suggested, Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction (2002) by C. Butler and have so far read the first three chapters.

Main topics dealt:


Chapter 1 – The rise of postmodernism

Discussion of Carl Andre‘s work Equivalent VIII (1966) in connection with Duchamp‘s readymades and modernist works.

Introduction to deconstructive and post-structuralist theory, relationship between postmodernism and philosophical, political, and sociological thought of the time.


Chapter 2 – New ways of seeing the world

Resistance to master narratives (or metanarratives) and postmodernist fundamentally sceptical attitude: La condition postmoderne by J.-F. Lyotard (1979).

Jacques Derrida: Deconstruction of metanarratives and relativistic attitude

Signs as systems: all words are meaningful only inside their relationships to systems (—> De Saussure)

Playing with the text: ‘new novelists’ in France and American experimental writers (W. Abish, D. Barthelme, R. Coover, R. Federman)

R. Barthes and M. Foucault: the death of the author

Language in its whole seen as a metaphor that can be deconstructed.

Culture and history considered as a number of perpetually competing stories.

Very self-conscious reflexivity of artists with frequent recourse to metalanguages. The work is seen as text even if it is a film, or a painting or a fashion show and every text, from philosophy to the newspapers, involves an obsessional repetition or intertextuality.

Postmodernist novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose) by Umberto Eco (1980).

Rewriting history: history as just another narrative, whose structures are fundamentally fictional and enslaved to its own myths, metaphors, and stereotypes.


Chapter 3 – Politics and identity

Relationship between discourse and power, ‘discourse’ meaning ‘a historically evolved set of interlocking and mutually supporting statements’ (page 44).

The power of words (Michel Foucault) and contemporary lessening of individual responsibility: the individual is not considered not so much as a ‘self’ but as a ‘subject’ because moved ‘by the ideologically motivated discourses of power which predominate in the society’ (page 49).

‘The postmodernist notion of human identity as essentially constructed like a fiction is also to be found in the visual arts, as is to be seen in Cindy Sherman‘s series of photographs, Untitled Film Stills (1977-80)’ (page 54).

Relationship between postmodernism and feminism in that ‘women are excluded … from the dominant male discourse … are subjected to a Derridean ‘false hierarchy’ by being assigned weak values, opposite to the strong ones invested in masculinity’ (page 56).

‘The postmodernist self, then, is very differently conceived from the self at the centre of liberal humanist thought, which is supposed to be capable of being autonomous, rational, and centred, and somehow free of any particular cultural, ethnic, or gendered characteristics’ (page 58).

‘Postmodernists therefore seem to call for an irreducible pluralism, cut off from any unifying frameworks of belief that might lead to common political action’ (page 60).




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