The term postmodern refers to a sensibility or mood that has permeated advanced capitalist societies in the West since World War II. Conceptually, postmodernism is associated with a group of intellectuals whose careers were shaped by the 1968 student revolts in France. Names familiar to educators include Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. Many credit the American philosopher Richard Rorty with introducing postmodern ideas to the United States.

Some scholars and practitioners of education embrace postmodernism. Others try to hold back the postmodern tide. Both responses draw heavily on postmodern philosophy. This entry, therefore, focuses on the intellectual aspects of postmodernism, holding its economic, political, artistic, and literary dimensions in the background.

Defining postmodern thought is challenging. Postmodernism highlights the hybrid and fluid nature of ...

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