Sites of Discourse – Public and Private Spheres – Legal Culture

Papers from a Conference Held at the Technical University of Dresden, December 2001

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The present collection of essays grew out of a conference, held in Dresden in December 2001, exploring the relationship between the public sphere and legal culture. The conference was held in connection with the ongoing research undertaken by the Sonderforschungsbereich 537 ‘Institutionalisation and Historical Change’ and, in particular, by the project ‘Circulation of Legal Norms and Values in British Culture from 1688 to 1900’.
The conference papers include essays on the theory of the public sphere from a systematic and historical point of view by Gert Melville, by Peter Uwe Hohendahl and by Jürgen Schlaeger, all of whom try to re-evaluate and/or improve upon Jürgen Habermas’ seminal contribution to the discussion of the emergence of modernism. Alastair Mann’s contribution investigates the situation in Scotland, particularly censorship and the oath of allegiance; Annette Pankratz focuses on the king’s body as a site of the public sphere; Heinz-Joachim Müllenbrock looks into the widespread ‘culture of contention’ at the beginning of the eighteenth century; and Eckhart Hellmuth considers the reform movement at the end of the century and the radical democrats’ insistence on the right to discuss the constitution.
Ian Bell, who took part in the conference, suggested the inclusion of part of the first chapter of his seminal study Literature and Crime in Augustan England (1991). Beth Swan, Anna-Christina Giovanopoulos, and Christoph Houswitschka respectively analyse the ideologies of justice, the interrelation between journalism and crime, and the juridical evaluation of the crime of incest and its representation in public. Greta Olson investigates keyholes as liminal spaces between the public and the private, Juliet Wightman focuses on theatre and the bear pit, Uwe Böker examines the court room and prison as public sites of discourse, and York-Gothart Mix discusses the German emigrant culture in North America.

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Gert MELVILLE: Institutions and the Public Sphere: Some Preliminary Remarks Peter Uwe HOHENDAHL: The Theory of the Public Sphere Revisited Jürgen SCHLAEGER: A Reckoning without the Host: Public and Private Spheres in the Eighteenth Century Uwe BÖKER: Institutionalised Rules of Discourse and the Court Room as a Site of the Public Sphere Juliet H. WIGHTMAN: ‘All the world is but a bear-baiting’ –Violence and Popular Culture in the Renaissance Alastair MANN: Parliaments, Princes, and Presses: Voices of Tradition and Protest in Early Modern Scotland Annette PANKRATZ: Over the King’s Bodies: The Emerging Public Sphere in Seventeenth-Century England Heinz-Joachim MÜLLENBROCK: Public Opinion in Eighteenth-Century England Ian A. BELL: Literature, Crime, and Society in Eighteenth-Century England Beth SWAN: Defoe and the Criminal Lawyer: Eighteenth Century Ideologies of Justice Greta OLSON: Keyholes in Eighteenth-Century Novels as Liminal Spaces between the Public and Private Spheres Christoph HOUSWITSCHKA: Family, Crime, and the Public Sphere: ‘Incest’ in Eighteenth-Century England Anna-Christina GIOVANOPOULOS: Alsatian Eccentricities: An Initial Appraisal of a Nineteenth-Century Collection of Eighteenth-Century News on Crime Eckhart HELLMUTH: Criticising the Constitution: or, How to Talk about the Liberty of the Press in the 1790s Uwe BÖKER: The Prison and the Penitentiary as Sites of Public Counter-Discourse York-Gothart MIX: ‘Ubi libertas, ibi patria’: The Interculturality of German-American Popular Almanacs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.