"Sometimes a Community and sometimes a Battlefield": From the Comedic Public Sphere to the Commons of Speakers' Corner

Cooper, Davina (2006) "Sometimes a Community and sometimes a Battlefield": From the Comedic Public Sphere to the Commons of Speakers' Corner. Society and Space, 24 . pp. 753-775. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not available from this repository. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL


Speakers’ Corner in London is perceived as a space in which people speak freely without state interference; it is also popularly known as a place in which eccentrics and others, without access to mainstream media, orate. In this paper I explore Speakers’ Corner as a discursive space, seeking to find a way through its polarised representations as a free space of serious and important deliberation and as a degraded trivial public sphere. I do so through the concept of the comedic public, which loosely draws upon Bakhtin’s work on the carnival but also differs in significant ways. At the same time I argue that Speakers’ Corner should not just be read or evaluated in terms of the public speech generated; the Corner is also a place in which communities form and strangers interact with others in counternormative ways. I argue that these social dimensions, often neglected, constitute an important aspect of the Corner’s practice; they are also dimensions generated and incited by the Corner’s discursive qualities. To illustrate this further I consider the expression of emotion, engagement in combative debate, and heckling as junctures through which social interactions arise. Finally, I suggest the social dimension to the Corner might productively be understood through the concept of the commons.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: public sphere, community, strangers, speech, market-place of ideas, commons, public
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School > Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality
Depositing User: Katrin Steinack
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:00
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2010 13:55
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/126 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):