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Public and Private Sarah Richardson. Published in German in 1962 and in English in 1989.

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Presentation on theme: "Public and Private Sarah Richardson. Published in German in 1962 and in English in 1989."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public and Private Sarah Richardson

2 Published in German in 1962 and in English in 1989.

3 Habermas’ ‘Public Sphere’ ‘casting itself loose as a forum in which the private people, come together to form a public, readied themselves to compel public authority to legitimate itself before public opinion’ ‘The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public’ ‘they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves. The medium of this political confrontation was peculiar and without historical precedent’

4 When does the public sphere emerge? Habermas asserts that ‘a public sphere that functioned in the political realm arose first in Great Britain at the turn of the eighteenth century’ Three events in were crucial: the founding of the Bank of England; the end of the licensing system; and the introduction of cabinet government. Habermas’ arguments have been challenged. Alan Downie argues ‘that one can quibble about the accuracy of almost every sentence he writes about seventeenth- and eighteenth-century ‘Britain’, including his assertions about art and architecture, literature, music and the theatre.’ Much of what he writes about Britain also occurred in France and Germany Peter Lake and Steve Pincus have argued the public sphere emerged after 1530

5 Public sphere ‘institutions’ Coffee Houses Print Culture Salons Debating Societies

6 Coffee Houses Richard Sennett in The Fall of the Public Man: ‘anyone sitting in the coffeehouse had a right to talk to anyone else, to enter into any conversation whether he knew the other people or not, whether he was bidden to speak or not. It was bad form even to touch on the social origins of other persons when talking to them in the coffeehouse, because the free flow of talk might then be impeded.’ Thus coffeehouse conversation produced an ideal of liberty without governance.

7 ‘Different opinions, and a measurable liberty of declaring them, is necessary to enliven conversation and to improve it…’ but men must develop ‘the talent of contradicting without displeasing.’

8 Evolution of the coffee house In late Stuart London, coffee houses were seen as the breeding grounds of sedition and treason. By the first decade of the eighteenth century, they became places where men could freely exchange their views without giving or taking offence By the second quarter of the century, ‘coffee house politicians’ had become objects of satire By the third quarter of the century the coffee house declined in numbers and importance in favour of salons and clubs

9 How ‘democratic’ were coffee houses? ‘the vast majority must have been little local “caffs,” often in basement rooms and open only for a few hours a day, and patronized by tradesmen on their way to work, who no more expected to be drawn into a discussion of Shakespeare’s neglect of the unities than to be offered a latte when they ordered a milky coffee.’ [John Barrell, Journal of British Studies, 2004

10 The use of space: Public or Private? Layout of Coffee houses: the open table

11 Layout of Coffee houses: the open table

12 Layout of Coffee houses: the box-pews

13 Layout of Coffee houses: boxes made of facing settles

14 Layout of Coffee houses: boxes divided by curtains

15 Print Culture In the 1730s Montesquieu had been struck by the number and licentiousness of the London newspapers (the dailies and weeklies together numbered about 20). He was also impressed by the ease with which their information reached working men, writing that the slaters had newspapers brought onto the roofs of the houses that they were working on so they could read them. Viscount Bolingbroke acknowledged the power of verses, ballads etc writing in the Craftsman, ‘when the people find themselves generally aggrieved, they are apt to manifest their resentments in political ballads, allegories, by-sayings, and ironical points of low wit.’

16 Chevy Chase

17 Salons Most famous literary salons in England were those of the so-called ‘blue stockings circle’: Hester Chapone, Elizabeth Carter, Catherine Talbot, Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Vesey and Frances Boscawen. In 1760s and 1770s bluestocking assemblies were valued because they seemed to exclude the factionalisms of politics. Harriet Guest has argued that it was the literary gatherings in the 1760s by the blue stocking women that led to the development of a feminine public voice and paved the way for more explicitly political writers such as Catherine Macaulay and Mary Wollstonecraft to engage with the public sphere in a more directly political way.

18 Elizabeth Montagu from a painting by Reynolds

19 Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo (The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain), Richard Samuel, 1778 In the left hand group: Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Carter, Angelica Kauffmann In the middle: Elizabeth Ann Sheridan In the right hand group: Elizabeth Griffith, Charlotte Lennox, Catherine Macaulay Elizabeth Montagu, Hannah More

20 Debating Societies In different debates were advertised. Societies probably started to emerge in the early eighteenth century. They began as convivial clubs of 50 or more men, meeting once a week in pubs largely discussing affairs of state and religious issues. Also mooting clubs and spouting societies for trainee actors. By 1770s many were leaving pubs and re-establishing themselves in genteel rooms. Were clubs opened where only women could speak: La Belle Assemblee, the Female Parliament, the Carlisle House Debates for Ladies only, and the Female Congress. Debating societies an important element in spreading enlightenment ideas but also raised opposition for the nature of their debates, their participants and the role of women.

21 London Debating Societies in the 1790s (source: Mary Thale, Historical Journal, 1989) Ciceronian School No. 28 Haymarket. Thursday. Ciceronian School of Eloquence Globe Tavern, Fleet St. Monday. City Debates Capel Court, Bartholomew Lane, opposite the Bank. Monday. Coachmakers' Hall Foster Lane, Cheapside. Thursday. Free Debates on a Superior Plan Maiden Lane. Wednesday. London Forum Capel Court. Thursday. School of Eloquence No. 45 Strand, opposite Villiers St. Monday and Thursday. School of Genius for Free Debate No. 28 Haymarket. Wednesday. Select Association for Free Debate Globe Tavern. Saturday. Society for Free Debate No. 28 Cornhill. Monday. Temple of Reason and Humanity Wych St. Wednesday and Monday. Westminster Forum Panton St., Haymarket. Wednesday. An unidentified society Capel Court. Thursday.


23 The Private Sphere There are ambiguities in Habermas’s use of the term. Sometimes he refers to the bourgeois public sphere that opposes itself to the representative publicness of state authority. At other times the sphere of the market is referred to as private: ‘The sphere of the market we call ‘private’; the sphere of the family, as the core of the private sphere, we call the ‘intimate sphere’. Habermas uses the example of the single family house with its own public and private spaces as a metaphor for the whole: ‘the line between the public and the public sphere extended right through the home’.

24 Domestic space Isaac Ware, the clerk to the Board of Works published his Complete Body of Architecture in 1756: ‘the parlour, in a small private house, is a very convenient room; but, as it is not the apartment of most shew, there is no necessity it should reduce the passage to an alley; and in larger houses, inhabited by persons of distinction, there must be anti-chambers, and rooms where people of business may attend the owner’s leisure.’ Space was also becoming increasingly gendered as can be illustrated by Henry Fielding’s novel Tom Jones: Mrs Western was reading a lecture on prudence, and matrimonial politics to her niece, when her brother and Blifil broke in with less ceremony than the laws of visiting require… ‘Brother,’ said she, ‘I am astonished at your behaviour, will you never learn any regard to decorum? Will you still look upon every apartment as your own, or as belonging to one of your country tenants? Do you think yourself at liberty to invade the privacies of women of condition, without the least decency or notice?’

25 Ground floor and first floor of Derby House, Grosvenor Square, London. From Robert Adam’s designs of Kitchen Coach House Stable Closet Lord Derby’s dressing room Lady Derby’s dressing room Library Great Eating Room Parlour HallAnteroom Bedroom 3 rd Drawing Room 2 nd Drawing Room 1 st Drawing Room Laundry Hay Loft Groom’s room


27 Public sphere to separate spheres Habermas public sphere was entirely masculine with women participating in what he called the ‘literary public sphere’ of reading novels, and attending salons and debating societies. Joan Landes, Women and the Public Sphere argued Habermas did not see how gender was central to the construction of the public sphere. But bourgeois public sphere was of no benefit to women Threat to patriarchy was neutralised by sharper polarisation of gender and a more emphatic gendering of separate spheres

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