Metamodernism: A Literature List
Mapping the Scattered Use up to Mid-2019
Circa 2016, I defined “metamodernism” broadly as “a new cultural, political, scientific, and social movement representing a post-ideological, open source, globally responsive, paradox resolving, grand narrative”. I am sticking with this definition as it is in keeping with its generic use and aspirations, but many writers have defined it in different precise terms and contexts. As a political, scientific, and social movement it has by no means crystallized yet — the culture war has intensified since 2016 — but rather a constellation of positive intellectual trends have been distinctly emerging and converging that can be framed under this banner (for example, see The Emergentsia series).
A proper literature review of metamodernism has never been done because there is not quite enough literature (until now, perhaps); there is still scarcely a proper academic movement but it is reaching a tipping point. The predominant trends are the Dutch School and the Nordic School, and they largely innovate and refer to themselves and other discourses, remaining relatively distinct.
The Dutch School focuses more on new artistic and cultural trends and markers in the 21st century and the return of of historicity, depth, and affect. The Nordic School emphasizes developmentalism and political evolution. Their literature reviews gathered a few explicit instances of “metamodernism” but mostly used proto-metamodern sources to formulate their new meta-theory, such as Fredric Jameson or Michael Commons, respectively.
Within these communities there is still not a large enough catalog of primary source material, as literature reviews are usually done in established subfields. This is done to build on existing literature or to try to achieve a breakthrough or “turn”. Towards these ends, I’ve organized a spreadsheet with roughly 230+ entries, to the best of my ability, trying to capture everything that’s out there across websites, journal articles, books, podcasts, and youtube videos, at the time of this publication, mid-2019. No doubt some sources are missed, but there is no comparison to this aggregation thus far.
This spreadsheet also purposefully omits certain things. It omits a handful of dead or expired links that used to exist. It omits anything to do with related terms like transmodernism or hypermodernism. It omits anything possibly related to metamodernism but not explicitly called so (ie. meta-theory, “constructive postmodernism”, post-postmodernism, meta-gaming, etc). That has to be left for another time and place.
The point of all these omissions was to track the term “metamodernism” itself, and to limit the size of the review. This helps articulate the boundaries of the field and highlight the self-contained strengths or weaknesses of the discourse. The spreadsheet is consciously limited in this sense, but there are many excellent sources within it, as well as unhelpful ones. A lot of the literature is disconnected, but people new to the topic can learn a great deal from these sources nonetheless. Enormous insights about metamodernism as a paradigm are still to be gained from outside the explicit discourse, and there is much work to be done in that regard.
Within the spreadsheet many entries fall into two main categories: either the Dutch School and Nordic School. Some sources fit into neither of them, going further or between them. I choose to publish the list now rather than annotate it further. Each of the major schools websites (metamodernism.com and metamoderna.org) contain large sets of various articles, and I felt it unnecessary to clutter the list with the specific contents of those sites which people can explore on their own. Likewise, the Dutch and Nordic respective books are also included and are deep resources for metamodernism with many useful citation trails. Otherwise, everything else in the list is from a diversity of sources referring to either school, both, or neither.
I’ve included a selection of my articles on metamodernism, for convenience, though they are all on this site too. In my research I’ve developed my own meta-theories (systemic-conspiracy, evolutionary globalization, meta-marxism, abstraction broadly, the quantum turn), reviewed the Dutch School, worked parallel with the Nordic School, as well as reviewed metamodern sources hitherto unexplored and integrated into the discourse (Missing Metamodernism 1, 2, 3, 4). Between all the different approaches, a broader sense of ‘metamodernism’ can be triangulated.
Even with all this, metamodernism is not just what is written or said about it. It is still unfolding as a new philosophy, stage of development, structure of feeling, and global epoch (emerging with awareness of the Anthropocene). It is a good marker, but has also led some astray, so this list can serve as a guide. There is much work to be done in reconciling postmodernism, to address the public mania over that term. The noble efforts that many of us are making to describe metamodernism may necessarily fall short. Producing academic text or media about anything is a practice to capture meaning and knowledge in a coded form, and perhaps to express a historical snapshot of a particular worldview or zeitgeist, but all seems fleeting in the internet age. Nevertheless, we sincerely-ironically do it for posterity. We do it as an affirmation of knowledge and praxis beyond the modern and postmodern.
I had initially intended to actually do a complete literature review, but it is a lot of work and I’d rather just share the list for now. Each item speaks for itself. If you would like to add something or help curate the list, and further tag and format it, please contact me for an editable link. For anyone daring enough to undertake a lit review, here are some tips: The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success (2016), Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review (2016). It’s a good idea to conduct literature reviews on other topics (as part of any serious research) that may be integrated into metamodernism as well. For now, here is the MM sources list:
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