Publics Considered

Publics are self-organized spaces organized by discourse. They are impersonal, and an organization of strangers. What holds a public together is that it is addressed as a public. That is, what constitutes a public is attention. It's where discourse circulates, and is circulated by. It's made of links. Publics come and go: they are located. And a public calls into existence the world it exists in.

Warner writers that "a public is poetic world making." I prefer that a public is heuristic. My emphasis stays on the discourse. Warner's moves towards agent action and interaction. See Publics


Paper called implicit assumptions into question without much alternative.

A text that persists exerts an organizing influence over its public, which is neither a specific public or the public in general.

Conduit Metaphor maintained by those who talk of texts.

The partial-publics of discourse are self-organized and sovereign with respect to the state.

A policeman who says, "hey you", addresses a stranger who may then recognize his distinction, but it does not create a public other than bystanders.

We speak in a venue of indefinite address and hope that people will find themselves in it. This, a direct implication of the self-organization, without which public address would have none of its special importance to modernity.

A public is the social space created by the reflexive (self-conscious) circulation of discourse. (the commons? destroyed with the class wiki at end of term?)

Texts in aggregate over time create a lasting public that can be supposed, addressed, and then eventual response postulated.

A public can only act in step with the text circulations that gives it existence. Punctuality, citation and indexing facilitates public discourse, often absent in 24x7 media like the internet.

The potential strength of Warner’s arguments are hamstrung by their fragmented organization, and his questions are more interesting than his answers. Aside from two chapters that lay out Warner’s taxonomy of what a public is, Warner has not written a strongly thesis-driven argument. post

Publics and Counterpublics, it should be clear, is a book written by a scholar for fellow scholars, in particular, for those academics conversant in the various argots of contemporary cultural studies