Chapter 4: Baudrillard en route to Postmodernity

Jean Baudrillard has emerged as one of the most high-profile postmodern theorists. He has achieved guru status throughout the English-speaking world and his works are rapidly being translated into Spanish, Italian, German, and other languages as well. Baudrillard's acolytes praise him as the talisman' of the new postmodern universe, as the commotion who theoretically energizes the postmodern scene, as the supertheorist of a new postmodernity. Moreover, whereas Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari never adopted the discourse of the postmodern, Baudrillard eventually identified with the postmodern turn and was crowned as a high priest of the new epoch. Furthermore, Baudrillard has developed the most striking and extreme theory of postmodernity yet produced and has been highly influential in cultural theory and discussions of contemporary media, art, and society.

A professor of sociology at the University of Nanterre from the 1960s until 1987, Baudrillard provided a series of provocative analyses of objects, signs, and codes in the consumer society in his early works. These writings attempted to synthesize the Marxian critique of political economy with semiology and were part of many attempts to revitalize revolutionary theory in the aftermath of the 1960s. The then carried out a sharp critique of Marxism in The Mirror of Production (1975; orig. 1973) and provided alternative, arguably postmodern, perspectives on contemporary society in L'echange symbolique et la mort (1976). In a series of widely discussed books and articles in the 1970s and 1980s, Baudrillard attached the fundamental presuppositions of modern theory and politics, while offering postmodern perspectives.

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