The attempt to delineate and characterize a particular period of history as an ‘age’, e.g. postmodernism. It assumes two things: first, that there is difference in kind (not just degree) between one moment in history and another; second, that there is something that gives a particular segment of time a certain kind of unity. In recent memory, the 1960s stands out as the most widely talked about example of period: according to some historians, it differs significantly from the 1950s because it is dominated by the ‘youth culture’ of the so-called baby boomer generation; it is unified by a shift in the structure of feeling away from believing in the idea of government towards a more dissident and rebellious position. Today, it is probably the notion of globalization that is the most talked about example of a periodizing hypothesis, though not everyone recognizes it as such (i.e. there are those who refuse it on the grounds that international trade has always been around).
F. Jameson ‘Periodizing the 60s’ in The Ideologies of Theory (2008).
Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.