“Publicity was once the exclusive property of men of rank. They alone, by virtue of their stations, could make things public. During the 18th century it became meaningful to talk about “public opinion” as something formed outside the state. Today anyone with a Twitter account can make a public. In this series IDEAS producer David Cayley examines how publics were formed in Europe, between 1500 and 1700, and how these early publics grew into the concept of “the public” that we hold today.”

“All of us today participate in imaginary communities that we call publics – our Ideas broadcast assembles a virtual community of listeners – a listening public. But there was a time when making things public was the exclusive property of men of rank. Matters of state, Queen Elizabeth I proclaimed to her subjects in 1559, were fit to be treated only by “men of authority” and conveyed only to audiences of “grave and discreet persons.” By the 18th century it had become meaningful to talk about public opinion as a sovereign power formed outside the state. What happened in the intervening years to make this revolution possible is
the subject of this Ideas series.”

  • An introduction to Making Publics and to the Early Modern Period
  • The Reformation
  • Forms of Nationhood
  • The Print Revolution
  • Painting Modernity
  • Elizabethan/Jacobean Theatre
  • Theatre and Publics
  • The Private Goes Public
  • The Secret History of Domesticity
  • Science and Its Publics
  • Steps to a Public Sphere
  • The News Revolution and the 18th Century Public Sphere
  • Publics and Counterpublics
  • The Public Sphere Today

You can find these episodes here.