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Publics and Counterpublics

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  258 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Most of the people around us belong to our world not directly, as kin orcomrades, but as strangers. How do we recognize them as members of our world? We arerelated to them as transient participants in common publics. Indeed, most of uswould find it nearly impossible to imagine a social world without publics. In theeight essays in this book, Michael Warner addresses the que ...more
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published May 3rd 2002 by Zone Books (NY) (first published 2002)
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Apr 23, 2013 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orals, theory
This is an important book. I should probably have given it 4 stars considering its content...but, well...I just didn't really enjoy reading it. It's not because it's of bad quality or anything, it's just that I have a fairly voracious longing to read about actual people at actual points in history doing and making things, so this book was a little too theoretical for my tastes. It also consistently avoided engaging in the two aspects I find most interesting about "publics," but I'll get back to ...more
Apr 30, 2008 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm embarrassed to admit (being a graduate student of English) that I'm almost as far from being a theory head as its possible to be. While I don't mind reading it in small doses, if it's associated with my research, I just can't plunk myself down and track the value of one school of critical thought as opposed to another. Maybe that's why I've always liked New Historicism. It's like theory light.

Anyway, Publics and Counterpublics is a derivative work, built on the foundations of Jurgen Haberma
Jul 19, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read: expands you mind about normativities; what is considered a 'public' and how we practice sexuality in these places.

Simply, you will not be as 'normal' afterwards, but you won't want to be: normal is freakish and, oftentimes, committs incredible wrongs in its namesake.

Thank you, Warner.
Jun 10, 2010 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Publics and Counterpublics (2002), Michael Warner explains that the public/private distinction is a complex set of dichotomies (15 separate senses of opposition, he claims, with 3 senses of private with no corresponding sense of public) (29-30). Liberal thought, he explains, claimed the private as positive, no longer a sense of privation, as Arendt sees it, but as a sense common to all people who have rights as private beings (39).

From his essay "Publics and Counterpublics" (summary from my t
Somewhat interesting for social theorists and those interested in how societies organize and conceptualize themselves (and their minorities). I read this for my thesis, but it's only tangential to my main focus, so it was't particularly useful to me. Stylistically, I preferred Michael Warner's other book The Trouble with Normal, which was a really engaging read. Normal is more polemical, with less direct interaction with theorists, which really helped the book flow smoothly. This book, on the ot ...more
Daniel Hammer
I took a long time to finish this one. Warner has a lot of really interesting thoughts, but also a lot of ideas that seem too esoteric. The book is a collection of essays that really do not hold together well as a whole--so read it for the ones you like, and skip the ones you do not. Although his ideas about publics and counterpublics seem like they should be more interesting and useful to me when looking at social life, I am never clear if Warner sees publics as 'actual' social groupings and id ...more
In the titular essay and that which precedes it, Warner elaborates a conception of publics that productively sits at the juncture of literary study and sociology. It's a very useful formulation. Other essays include prehistories of this formulation, seminal pieces that are somewhat adjacent-ish to it in various inexplicit ways, and a nifty reading of Whitman. As such, the collection very much feels like an unsynthesized combination of Warner's late-80s/early-90s work on early American literature ...more
C.E. G
Dec 18, 2011 C.E. G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Queer theory about counterpublics? Yes, please! I'd read excerpts from The Trouble With Normal before, and I came upon this one when I was looking up critiques of Habermas's theory of the public sphere for a paper. The essays were written at different points over the past 2+ decades, so sometimes it feels choppy and at times the theory is not as fleshed out as I'd like, but it was very interesting nonetheless.

I only did a close reading of the first two essays, but I read/skimmed the others and
Mar 28, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating alternative take on publics and the public sphere, Warner employs queer theory heavily to explain conditions of (post)modernity. The book's structure and organization can probably be jarring to some who are used to a much more organized and methodical approach to scholarship, but I was not particularly bothered by it. The last couple chapters engage in a bit too much textual analysis for my tastes, though (I did appreciate the rigorous search for historical primary sources, though).
Nov 13, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent investigation into what we mean when we say "public" and what the alternatives to that might be. Are there groups circulating that function in other ways, or against the dominant conception of the public? Warner thinks so. It's a very theoretical, very thought-provoking book, but definitely not inaccessible to those of you who are not scholars or academics. It's very accessible and very interesting for those who want to take the time to think about a very strange question - what does i ...more
Kristin Canfield
This is one of those great books that keeps circulating in your head likely long after you finish reading. It's also perhaps the best argument for literary study I've read in awhile (or at least it could be mobilized as such). Short on time: the intro and first 2 chapters are enough to make your brain go whirl.
Feb 07, 2014 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skimmed
Can only claim to have read the introduction.

Describes characteristics of public, and discourses addressed to publics.
- unprecedented stranger-sociability, circulation, poetic world-making

fyi counterpublics are publics.
only read the title chapter (although it is a doozie). sort of torturous to read. don't understand the real stakes yet. guess i gotta read the rest.
Jul 27, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rhet-and-media
Warner's theory of publics and counterpublics is essential for scholars interested in media and public culture. I might be leaning on this too heavily sometimes, but I was inspired by the text.
Sep 13, 2009 Cheyanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
so wonderful
Dec 19, 2011 Kaia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For publics theories class.
micha cardenas
Sep 10, 2008 micha cardenas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful politics and queer theory!
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Michael Warner is Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and American Studies at Yale, and chair of the department of English. His books include Publics and Counterpublics (2002); The Trouble with Normal (1999); and The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). With Craig Calhoun and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, he ...more
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