COMM 8611, “Habermas and the Public Sphere” will be taught by Alan Gross, Communications Studies Professor.
238 Ford Hall
This seminar investigates the origin and development of the concept of the public sphere. It begins with a study of John Dewey’s seminal The Public and its Problems, the philosophical precursor of Habermas’s central work, also the central work of the course, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. It is a book that has generated a plethora of comment and criticism. Craig Calhoun’s collection, Habermas and the Public Sphere, our next reading, samples this at its best. Up to this point in the seminar, we will have dealt with the public sphere only as a social and political phenomenon, subject to philosophical analysis. But any social and political phenomenon can also—and I would argue must also—be subjected to rhetorical analysis. This is the goal of political scientist Bryan Garsten’s Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment. We close the seminar with a discussion of two topics: 1) the role of the public sphere in the theory of deliberative democracy, as embodied in Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson’s Why Deliberative Democracy? and 2) the application of the concept of the public sphere in scholarship in Communication Studies and Journalism. The seminar should be of interest to students of communication, in journalism, in political science, in social science, in political philosophy, and in rhetoric.
John Dewey, The Public and its Problems. Swallow Press, 1954. 0804002541
Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Thomas Burger, trans. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991. 0-262-58108-6
Craig Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992. 0-262-03183-3
Bryan Garsten, Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. 0-674-02168-1
Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, Why Deliberative Democracy? Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004. 0-691-1209-6
Week 1. Dewey, The Public and its Problems, 1-3
Week 2. Dewey, The Public and its Problems, 4-6
Week 3. Habermas, The Public Sphere, I-III
Week 4. Habermas, The Public Sphere, IV-V
Week 5. Habermas, The Public Sphere, VI-VII
Week 6. Calhoun, 1, 8, 9
Week 7. Calhoun, 10-12
Week 8, Calhoun, 13-15
Week 9. Calhoun, 16-18
Week 10. Garsten, 1-3
Week 11. Garsten, 4-6. Final paper due.
Week 12. Gutmann, 1-3
Week 13. Gutmann. 4-6
Week 14. Piscena, Simone, Rasmussen, Al Saggaf
Week 15. Wodak, DeLuca, McGee, Habermas
Grades: There will be a set of weekly writing assignments and a final paper. The weekly assignments will be 50% of your grade; the final paper, 50%.
Attendance will be taken. More than 2 unexcused absences will lead to a reduction in grade.