The Public: Stranger or Community?

“Community” and “public” are both such complex terms that can lend themselves to many different readings, as Barrett and Warner point out. When placed together, though, they help me to pinpoint my own assumptions about each and general discomfort with creating work for “the public.”

When creating an event for simply “the public,” I often feel discouraged and unsure how to proceed. Who are the individuals and where do their interests lie? It’s like talking to an empty room or a stranger, as described in Warner. Warner, though, seems to believe that his words are worth writing and that someone is listening, whereas I would probably consider my work or article a failure without any community responses .

Here is where I realized that “community” is a huge part of my understanding of public humanities. In an ideal project, I would want to speak with stakeholders, historians, and people with different types of knowledge on the subject. All these people are part of communities¬†and help me to focus my work. If the public is a stranger, what I’m showing might not be relevant to anyone. ¬†While Barrett disagrees, I find communities are easily more concrete than the vastness of the public.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.