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Cultural Transformations of the Public Sphere

Contemporary and Historical Perspectives


Bernd Fischer and May Mergenthaler

The last decade has seen renewed interest in political theories of the public sphere, reacting to new challenges posed by globalization, communication technology, and intra- and international conflicts. However, the role of culture and aesthetics in the formation of the public sphere has received insufficient analytical attention. The essays in this volume explore different strategies for enriching the ongoing debates on this issue, ranging from historical case studies to theoretical examinations of cultural interdependencies and the aesthetic potential of literature and art. The contributions implicitly challenge Jürgen Habermas’ assumption that the public discourse about art and literature should be seen as a mere precursor to the emergence of the public sphere in the eighteenth century, which, from his point of view, is best discussed in the terminology of political theory.
Topics range from the French Revolution’s exclusive social metaphors to Herder’s anticipation of virtual publics, from the distortions of public communication to revolutionary potentials of popular taste, and from postcolonial feuilletons to the global bio-political imaginaries evoked by mobile communication. The essays are intended for scholars and students in political theory and philosophy as well as in German, Latin American, and Modern Hebrew literature and culture.
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Notes on Contributors


IGNACIO CORONA is Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The Ohio State University, specializing in Mexican and Latin/o American Cultural and Literary Studies. He is the author of Después de Tlatelolco: las narrativas políticas en México (2001) and co-editor of The Contemporary Mexican Chronicle: Theoretical Perspectives on the Liminal Genre (2002), Postnational Musical Identities: Production, Marketing, and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario (2008) and Gender Violence at the US-Mexico Border: Media Representations and Public Intervention (2010).

CHRISTIAN J. EMDEN is Professor of German Studies at Rice University. His work focuses on German and European intellectual history and political thought, and he is on the editorial board of Modern Intellectual History and the Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie, co-edits the book series Cultural History and Literary Imagination and serves as an external reviewer for the European Science Foundation. His books include Nietzsche’s Naturalism: Philosophy and the Life Sciences in the Nineteenth Century (2014), Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of History (2008), Walter Benjamins Archäologie der Moderne. Kulturwissenschaft um 1930 (2006) and Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (2005). He has co-edited Beyond Habermas: Democracy, Knowledge, and the Public Sphere (2012) and ImageScapes: Studies in Intermediality (2010).

BERND FISCHER is Professor of German at The Ohio State University. His books include Ein anderer Blick – Saul Aschers politische Schriften (2015); Heinrich von Kleist and Modernity (2011; with Tim Mehigan); Cultural Politics and the Politics of Culture (2007; with Helen...

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