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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Stephen Groening Creates Seminar on Public Spheres and Public Media

GroeningStephen Groening (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media) has developed a new graduate seminar based on his work as a 2017 Mellon Summer Fellow for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities. The fellowship, part of the Simpson Center’s Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics program, gathers a cohort of UW faculty to develop new courses with significant public scholarship components. 

The course, Public Spheres, Public Media, offered in spring 2018, unpacks the historical concept of the public sphere to grapple with new kinds of public spheres structured by new media social platforms and networks. More:

For Immanuel Kant, the public sphere gave voice to the bourgeois and was a kind of technology of Enlightenment; allowing for the public use of private reason. Jurgen Habermas’s 1962 work The Structural Transformation of the Bourgeois Public Sphere historicizes this notion and calls attention to its inadequacies. Subsequently, a wide range of theorists, political philosophers, and critics have taken Habermas to task for supporting a concept overly reliant on face-to-face dialogue and a privileged form of rationality that therefore ends up being exclusionary, racist, and sexist. At the same time, many—if not all—of these critics aver that the idea of a public sphere is nonetheless crucial and necessary for political philosophy, media studies, understanding social movements, and for democracy itself.

Learn more about the course

The course joins Feminist New Media Studies (with Regina Yung Lee) and Organizing Film Festivals as Public Scholarship (with Leigh Mercer) as new seminars arising from the Reimagining program.

Groening also received a Simpson Center Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship in 2016 for his Seattle Television History Project and a Society of Scholars fellowship in 2016-17 for his research on television and collectivity.

Congratulations, Stephen!