“It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”: MTV, Postmodern Theory, and Generational Shifts in the United States

Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Individually Designed-American Studies

First Advisor

Paul Deslandes

Second Advisor

Sean Witters

Third Advisor

Nicole Phelps


popular culture, 1980s, united states, MTV, postmodernism, postmodern condition


This project examines the formation, format, and content of Music Television (MTV) in its early days, and how these facets of the network embody the cultural and aesthetic dominant of the time-- postmodernism. The concept of postmodernism is one that has been debated, disputed, and edited over time and still lacks a concrete definition. In essence, this project requires an analysis of the basic tenets of postmodernism and an application of them to the overall concept of MTV. Through the use of key postmodern texts and firsthand accounts of MTV as well as scholarly works and previous analysis, this analysis will demonstrate that there is more to the postmodernity of MTV than just the format of it. It will make an argument for generational differences and the potentially imperative role that they play not only in the context of MTV but wider culture in general. Additionally, after the analysis is complete, this project will apply its findings to the state of music and technology in today’s society.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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