Chapter one explores the aesthetic paradigms that currently dominate analyses of Hollywood cinema, specifically: the classical, modernist, postclassical/new Hollywood, and their construction as periods within a linear history of style. The chapter addresses key theoretical divisions that underpin different conceptions of Hollywood style, drawing attention to recurrent oppositions as well as features that are overlooked. It charts the fusion of the post-classical and postmodern disentangling the two aesthetic models. The overall argument is that the endeavour to parallel the dominant aesthetic paradigms with distinct historical eras is untenable. The chapter ends by arguing in favour of taking up Lyotard’s non-linear conception of postmodernism in order to view postmodern aesthetics as an aesthetic form that occurs across the history of Hollywood.
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