Normalizing Narrative Forms of Human Rights: The (Dys)Function of the Public Sphere

Joseph R. Slaughter

in Human Rights, Inc.

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780823228171
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241033 | DOI:
Normalizing Narrative Forms of Human Rights: The (Dys)Function of the Public Sphere

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The discussion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) forecasts some of this chapter's arguments about the role of the public sphere in normalizing and naturalizing common sense. The dramatic restaging of the discursive process in The Story I Am About to Tell is an extraordinary literary form for the story of incorporation. The Bildungsroman is the more ordinary story form of incorporation for a democratic social order that either is already established (and generally perceived as legitimate) or is coming to birth in a timeframe somewhat longer than that of a new South Africa. Theoretically, the liberal public sphere is a sociocivic story space that connects personal biography and nation-statist historiography. Historically, the affirmative Bildungsroman is the liberal public sphere's most favored novelistic form for plotting human personality development and the acquisition of civil and human dignity as the normative story of modern socialization, liberation, and emancipation.

Keywords: Truth and Reconciliation Commission; public sphere; incorporation; Bildungsroman; South Africa; human personality; normative story; socialization; liberation; emancipation

Chapter.  24477 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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