At the 2003 "Rock the Vote" debate, one of the questions posed
by a student to the eight Democratic candidates for the
presidential nomination was "have you ever used marijuana?"
Amazingly, all but one of the candidates voluntarily answered the
question. Add to this example the multiple ways in which we now see
public intrusion into private lives (security cameras, electronic
access to personal data, scanning and "wanding" at the airport) or
private self-exposure in public forums (cell phones, web cams,
confessional talk shows, voyeuristic "reality" TV). That matters so
private could be treated as legitimate-in some cases even vital-for
public discourse indicates how intertwined the realms of private
and public have become in our era. Reverse examples exist as well.
Around the world, public authorities look the other way while
individual rights are abused--calling it a private matter--or
officials appeal to sectarian morés to justify discrimination in
The authors of The Private, the Public, and the Published feel
that scholarship needs to explore and understand this phenomenon,
and needs to address it in the college classroom. There are
consequences of conflating public and private, they
argue--consequences that have implications especially for what is
known as the public good. The changing distinctions between
"private" and "public," and the various practices of private and
public expression, are explored in these essays with an eye toward
what they teach us about those consequences and implications.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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