"Five Theses on the Public Sphere"



    The current crisis of democracy reminds us how firmly the public sphere is grounded in reading and readership. Counterintuitive as this assumption might seem in our visually inclined media age, Laura Bieger expounds it in five theses. Studying the public’s continuous investment in reading and readership is indeed 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. Yet if scholars tend to equate the rise of modern mass media with the decline of the public sphere—that institution on which democratic societies so crucially depend—her aim is to take a less biased stance. What if structural changes such as the recurring transformations of the public sphere testify to the fact that democratic orders are open to inner revision and renewal? Open in ways that make them inherently vulnerable, yes, but that also afford modes of existence that are of vital use for those living in democracies—and that are never ever unmediated. It is this structural disposition that prompts the five theses to be unpacked in her talk.
    (1) Organizing ourselves as publics is a text-based mode of democratic existence, which raises fundamental questions about what texts are, how they relate to each other and other mediated forms, especially images, and how these relations participate in the constitution of the public sphere. (2) Readers and media are co-actors in the constitution of the public sphere. (3) The public sphere shares this constitution with the literary field. (4) The two domains are structurally interlinked through historically specific institutional and media networks in which text-reader-relations are forged and transformed. (5) If transformations in the public sphere and the literary field are bound to affect each other, determining the governing rules and structural parameters which regulate the transactions between these two sites demands an extended notion of literary, institutional, and media agency.
    Originele taal-2English
    StatusPublished - 2017
    EvenementPublic Lecture at Deutsches Haus at New York University - Deutsches Haus at New York University, New York, United States
    Duur: 17-nov-2017 → …


    OtherPublic Lecture at Deutsches Haus at New York University
    Land/RegioUnited States
    StadNew York
    Periode17/11/2017 → …

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