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What is Avantpop?

(Pronounced like Avant-garde)

Avantpop is an American artistic movement which derived from postmodernism in the 1990s.

According to its proponents, among which there are literary critic Larry McCaffery and writer Mark Amerika, Avantpop is characterized by the use of materials coming from the mass media (cinemapop musictelevisioncomicsinternetvideogames), that are mostly assembled in literary texts where avantgarde techniques and devices are also applied. The Avant-Pop Manifesto, which propounded this literary trend, was written by Mark Amerika, and can be read on the web. According to June 2, 2012, tweet from @markamerika, "Avant-Pop was the first aesthetic tendency to understand that it exists in the age of electronic distribution."

The name of the movement has been taken by Larry McCaffery from the homonymous 1986 album by American jazz musician Lester Bowie (Avant Pop - Brass Fantasy), where pop tunes are scored for a brass ensemble.


Among the most important representatives of the movement there are Kathy AckerMark AmerikaJonathan LethemSteve EricksonMatt RuffPatricia AnthonyLewis ShinerJoe R. LansdaleLance OlsenWilliam T. VollmannMark LeynerDouglas Anthony Cooper, and David Foster Wallace.

There are also some forerunners of Avantpop literature, and they are genre writers like Harlan EllisonWilliam Gibson and Philip K. Dick (above all his VALIS Trilogy), or postmodernist authors like Kurt Vonnegut.

Some film directors are also considered part of the Avantpop movement or attuned to Avantpop sensibility: Quentin TarantinoRobert RodriguezJoel and Ethan Coen, and Serbian director Emir Kusturica. An important book for the definition of the Avantpop canon is the anthology After Yesterday's Crash: The Avant-Pop Anthology (1996) edited by Larry McCaffery.

Two literary areas are quite close to the Avantpop sensibility: slipstream fiction and New Weird.


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