The Phantom Public Sphere (Studies In Classical Philology)

  • Publish Date: 1993-05-03
  • Binding: Paperback
  • $14.83
  • Save $28.04

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In the recent culture wars over canon, curriculum, and multiculturalism, enraged voices repeatedly claim that the academy has failed in its duty to the public. These cries echo older charges against the schools and the media for failing to produce active, informed citizens and, more recently, against race and gender politics for dividing the body politic against itself.

The Phantom Public Sphere interrogates the concept of the public in whose name all such charges are leveled. The public sphere is presented as something already lost, an unrepresented absence. In the heterogeneous, electronically mediated society we call postmodern, can we still speak meaningfully of a public sphere? On the other hand, can supporters of democracy afford not to speak of it?

In The Phantom Public Sphere, voices from numerous disciplines and perspectives share a common concern with what the public means now - not as an object of nostalgia, but as a presence within the institutions, movements, and events that have redefined contemporary life, including Jesse Helms censorship campaign and the televised Senate hearing that made the names of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill household words.

Provocative and disturbing, The Phantom Public Sphere both engages the challenge Walter Lippmann posed for democracy in 1925 when he called the public a phantom and speaks in the name of democracy and its radical possibilities.

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