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“Between Irony and Sincerity” at Columbia GSAPP

On April 6 Vermeulen and Van den Akker present their “Between Irony and Sincerity” at Columbia GSAPP

On April 6, Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker present their lecture Between Irony and Sincerity at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. This event is open and free to the public.


In 2010, Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker proposed “metamodernism” as an intervention in the post-postmodernism debate. In their essay “Notes on Metamodernism,” they assert that the aughts were characterized by the return of typically modern positions that did not forfeit the postmodern mindsets of the 1980s and 1990s. The metamodern sensibility, they write, “can be conceived of as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism.”

In the context of contemporary architectural practices, the proposal of Vermeulen and van den Akker is very fitting and important to work through. Despite having rhetorical devices akin to irony in a postmodern sense of the word, the message is often sincere. We hope this conversation becomes the start of a longer discussion about the status of irony and sincerity today, as well as a platform to consider a future trajectory.

Metamodernism: Historicity, Affect, Depth (Rowman & Littlefield Int, 2017), the recent book edited by Robin van den Akker, Alison Gibbons, and Timotheus Vermeulen, brings together many of the most influential voices in the scholarly and critical debate about post-postmodernism and twenty-first century aesthetics, arts and culture. By relating cutting-edge analyses of contemporary literature, the visual arts and film and television to recent social, technological and economic developments, the volume provides both a map and an itinerary of today’s metamodern cultural landscape.

As its organizing principle, the book takes Fredric Jameson’s canonical arguments about the waning of historicity, affect and depth in the postmodern culture of western capitalist societies in the twentieth century, and re-evaluates and reconceptualizes these notions in a twenty-first century context. In doing so, it shows that the contemporary moment should be regarded as a transitional period from the postmodern and into the metamodern cultural moment.

Robin van den Akker

Lecturer in Continental Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Erasmus University College Rotterdam. He studied Social History (BA, MA) and Philosophy (MA) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Cultural Studies (MPhil, Distinction) at the University of Birmingham.

Timotheus Vermeulen

Associate professor in Media, Culture and Society at the University of Oslo, Norway. He writes about visual culture, contemporary aesthetics and cultural theory.

DutchCulture USA