Reading Publics and the Power of Literature

Laura Bieger

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherAcademic


    Studying the reading public is a pressing task at a time when printed matter ceases to be the unrivalled foundation of our reading culture while the public sphere is undergoing its perhaps gravest transformation since the invention of the printing press. Drawing on Jürgen Habermas’s notion that readership is a key constituent of the public sphere, this workshop sets out to explore the power that literature has in creating and sustaining that institutional space on which democratic societies crucially depend. Against this backdrop, literature’s power needs to be discussed in at least three critical ways: as a means of resistance against political and economic coercion; as a social institution with close ties to both the market and the public sphere; and as a world-making agent that is in and of itself capable of hegemonic consolidation.

    Topics of interest for this workshop:
    • engaged literature (genres, forms, styles, modes of address)
    • what and how does that public read?
    • historical and institutional dimensions
    • political, economic and medial challenges
    • the public sphere and the literary field
    • pluralized reading publics/counterpublics, scopes and sizes of reading publics
    • text and paratext, circulation of literary texts

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventAnnual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association - University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States
    Duration: 29-Mar-20181-Apr-2018


    WorkshopAnnual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityLos Angeles


    Dive into the research topics of 'Reading Publics and the Power of Literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this