Norbrook 1994

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Areopagitica has been read in terms of Foucauldian critique of power; it relies on the very forms of censorship it blasts

Norbrook suggests Habermass's model of the "bourgeois public sphere" "openes up a more adequate historical contextualization of Areopagitica and that one reason for this is a certain interplay between Habermas's theories and Renaissance rhetorical and political theory." (5)

"There was a significant expansion in the political public sphere, especially from the 1620s onward, an emergent civil society whose means of communication -- reports of parliamentary debares, newsletters, satires, and so on -- circulated horizontally, cutting across the vertical power structures emanating from the court. The electorate significantly expanded, and elections became increasingly ideologically charged. This process culminated in the political opening of the 1640s." (7)
"Areopagitica can more fruitfully be seen against the background of Renaissance republicanism than of a later liberalism." (10)
"The insistence on common participation in public affairs legitimized the expansion of the press, and newsbooks' titles often aligned them with classical forms of public speech the courtly Mercurius Aulicus versus the parliamentarian Mercurius Civicus."
"What Milton objects to about prepublication licensing is precisely that it claws back what ought to be a public space for a particular interest, that of the presbyterian 'at home in his privat chair'." (12)
"Milton insists that writing ought to be a collaborative process" (12)

on Imprimatur metaphor: "Milton conflates the public space of the title page with that of the Italian cities where the defeat of the republican communality of the Roman forum and later of the piazza are registered in the common complicity in servility of the groveling instruments of the hierarchy, acting 'dialogue-wise' because the genuine dialogue of republican culture has been reduced to empty stage dialogue." (13)

role of Parliament: "it is best able to govern when it is most responsive to communicative processes diffused throughout society" (14)

licensing is a modern invention; destroys link to classical polis (15)

Euripides' epigraph is from a "metacommunicative" moment in the play (16)

  • turns Milton's title page from an "authoritarian piazza to an embodiment of a classical forum" (17)

his politics: "a picture of unity in controlled variety" (19)

imagery of war shows violence of Enlightenment rationality (21)

"In lavishing on the traditionally despised medium of the pamphlet the imagisticc and allusive resources normally thought appropriate to court poetry or masques, the pamphlet embodies a challenge to fit readers to redirect their cultural energies to the struggle for liberty." (22) -- see also Fish 2001

sublimest -- mental processes that unify disunity of the state (22)

  • "The constantly shifting, sublime body of the text images the reconstituted body of a reformed state. Truth, for Milton, needs a body in order to speak, and yet that body resists full representation, and to represent it fully is already to bind it by tuning truth's voice according to the time." (23)

women not given access to public sphere; at the same time, Milton's defense of the household gives the private domestic space more significance