rainy day chronicle

After driving up to D.C. from Sparkle City yesterday, I walked around Dupont Circle a bit (in the process picking up the latest by Tilly and the Wall), and then spent the evening enjoying dinner and conversation with my longtime friend Nancy, who lives nearby. I then headed through the deluge up to Chuck‘s apartment in my old Hyattsville neighborhood.

Today I spent some time at Catholic University, copying articles on the public sphere as Chuck cleared out his office. I’ve realized that this is a concept I’m interested in on several levels, and I hope to do some writing about it here. For now, though, I’ll just sketch out a few things briefly. For the most part, my focus is on who is allowed or encouraged to participate in the exchanges taking place in the public sphere as well as what are considered appropriate topics for discussion therein. First, I’m working on a solicited article concerning eighteenth-century British religious periodicals and the public sphere, and it seems that many of the issues the editors, writers, and readers were wrestling with–e.g. the tensions between reason and faith, passion and civility–are still with us today. Second, I’m trying to decide whether to organize some September Project events this fall, and in doing so I’ve begun to think of the project as an attempt to repair the fractured and dysfunctional contemporary public sphere. And finally, there’s something in the back of my mind about these things called blogs (perhaps you’ve heard of them) and the idea of the public sphere, but I find myself unable to articulate it right now.

Tomorrow night, a few of the Wordherders will convene at Franklin’s.

This post brought to you by Tryst.

Man, do I miss living here.

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2 thoughts on “rainy day chronicle

  1. Second, I’m trying to decide whether to organize some September Project events this fall, and in doing so I’ve begun to think of the project as an attempt to repair the fractured and dysfunctional contemporary public sphere.

    rock on.

    george, in many ways we are in the same boat: this fall, we work with new students at a new institution. plus, both of us are pre-tenured.

    what i plan to do is do what i already do – teach undergrads – and facilitate a way so that the students’ work can be shared publicly. my class this fall is called “digital democracy” and one of the assignments i want them to do is design displays (print, digital, multimedia, whatever drives their curiosity) about x. (most likely x will be a question like “what is terror?”) this will be a normal assignment: readings, assignment guidelines, grade.

    what is different is the avenue of distribution. i hope to hook up with a library – preferably a public library so that anyone, not just members of the campus community, can attend – that will allow my students and i a public forum to share and discuss our work. so, the only difference is that instead of collectively displaying and discussing our projects in class, we do it in a public library.

    it’s free, it’s public, and it’s about issues that matter. in other words, it’s a september project!

    the cool thing, in my mind at least, is that the process reminds students that their ideas and efforts do not have to stay in the class or on the campus: good ideas can live and thrive in the public sphere.

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