Ludwig Wittgenstein d. April 29, 1951
Theodor Adorno d. August 6, 1969
Martin Heidegger d. May 26, 1976
Roland Barthes d. March 28, 1980
Jacques-Marie-Emile Lacan d. September 9, 1981
Michel Foucault d. June 25, 1984
Louis Althusser* d. October 23, 1990
Jean-François Lyotard d. April 21, 1998
Pierre Bourdieu* d. January 23, 2002
Jacques Derrida d. October 8, 2004
Jean Baudrillard d. March 6, 2007
Jürgen Habermas*, beware! You're nearing your 88th birthday. And Noam Chomsky*... You just turned 88!
I was surprised that no one but the BBC covered the fact that Baudrillard died yesterday. Maybe they will today, but I doubt it. As important as he is to my field - or any qualitatively-oriented social science - I'd be surprised if enough people recognize his name to warrant any kind of televised obituary. I remember when Derrida died, endless seminars, tributes, discussion groups and other homages popped up all over campus. You would have though the French department had lost one of their own faculty! I can't imagine what they're doing for Baudrillard; maybe nothing, maybe they had a department-imposed day of mourning, I can't say.
If you don't know Baudrillard's work, you should totally check him out. His most famous work, Simulacra and Simulation (1981) is a little hard to read (and understand...) but I've heard his more recent stuff is much more accessible, if Crazy Liberal Propaganda (my favorite kind! ::squeal::). His book, America (1986), got pretty mediocre reviews - people thought he was stretching - but that would have been a hard time to be a post-modernist. His most recent stuff has been about how the Gulf War was really a simulacra - that the abstract reality of the war was entirely invented by public discourse and was not real (he does not dispute that it happened or anything like that). He has another book about how the same thing happened with 9/11. As you can imagine, he was not very popular in some quarters...
Anyway, I think it is strange to realize that Post-Modernism may have died yesterday along with M. Baudrillard. Sure, there are probably scholars who call themselves Post-Modernists out there. But who are they? What clout do they have? Do they represent an era of intellectual critique and epistemological change?
Also, if I left anyone off that list, let me know. Or don't, if this whole exercise has been too depressing. Just go read some Foucault and think happily about a time decontextualisation was a crazy new idea.