Cesare Cuttica on The Horror of the Public Sphere
On Friday March 29 Dr. Cesare Cuttica from Université Paris 8 will hold a guest lecture on "The Horror of the Public Sphere in Early Modern England. Historical Analysis and Contemporary Lessons".
By focusing on anti-democratic ideas in England in the period 1570-1649, and by illustrating the rich variety of debates about popular government and the place of the 'many-headed multitude' in it, my talk has three main goals. First, it intends to show the complex nature informing harsh criticism(s) of democratic opinions, procedures and people articulated in a panoply of different discursive moments. The latter involved not only politics, religion and morality, but also the metaphysical, economic, linguistic and natural domains. Attacks on democracy were encompassing because they reflected a deeply seated fear of homo democraticus and of a broad spectrum of elements entailed by democratic life. Second, the talk takes into consideration a specific aspect of anti-democratic language in that it concentrates on the relentless critique of the populace's participation in public affairs. The lower orders' increasing attempts to gain a voice in public discussions surrounding parliamentary politics, taxation, ecclesiastical reform, political representation and social equality provoked strong reactions on the part of the establishment. These pointed to the danger of having uneducated and violent mobs express their opinions on things they knew nothing of and do so through a cacophony of subversive, irresponsible and loose chatter. Third and last, the talk wants to provide a platform for examining the legacy of ideas that are currently the object of vehement debate (especially, in light of the US election of Donald Trump, the UK Brexit referendum and the rise of populisms across the globe). In fact, like in early modern England, nowadays too much politico-philosophical reflection focuses on the role and place of large masses of people in the expanding arenas of social media and public discourse.
Both students and faculty members are welcome to attend. No registration is necessary.