The Postmodern Generation

Melissa Williams (left) and Josh Peeling (center) work on their final projects during “The Postmodernism Generation,” a sophomore interdisciplinary studies course.
May 06, 2014

Modern times are in the past, and postmodern is the new contemporary. Sound complicated? That’s the idea.

Students in the Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies course, “The Postmodern Generation,” are learning how scholars define the time in which they live, and they are finding it more challenging than expected.

“It (postmodernism) is a very big term. It’s describing an era not by the time period, but by its characteristics,” said sophomore Communication major Melissa Williams.

Typical of an SIS, “The Postmodern Generation” examines a topic best understood when explored from multiple disciplines of study, explained Steven Pearson, associate professor of Art, and Robert Kachur, professor and department chair of English, who are team-teaching the course.

The Postmodern Generation
"The Postmodern Generation" is team taught - as is often the case with SIS courses - by Art professor Steve Pearson (pictured) and Robert Kachur in the English department. 

During the semester, the sophomores have analyzed films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Memento,” read the writings of Ben Loory and Dave Eggers, and examined iconic works of art, piecing together an understanding of postmodernism along the way.

“In a postmodern world, the conclusion is there isn’t one conclusion,” said sophomore Josh Peeling of Perry Hall, Md.

The Computer Science major has found common threads between this class and others he’s taken on the Hill, from Honors to Computer Science, and even to his semester in the University of Glasgow Honors Program.

What particularly struck Peeling was a guest lecture by Physics professor Jeffrey Marx, in which he learned that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity supported the postmodern rejection of fundamental truth – in other words, that more than one truth can be correct at the same time, and there isn’t always only one right answer.

By dissecting their own experiences in relation to what they learn in class, the sophomores are practicing valuable critical thinking skills that will benefit them in other classes and after college, said Pearson.

For Williams, who hails from New Windsor, Md., the postmodern idea that meaning is in the eye of the beholder is especially thought-provoking. As a musician, she will consider that when making song choices in the future.

Plus, the video editing skills she learned for a creative video project will serve her as she continues in her public information internship with the Office of the State Fire Marshal.