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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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Against the ‘Democratic Turn’

Against the ‘Democratic Turn’

Counter-texts; Counter-contexts; Counter-arguments

Chapter:
(p.14) (p.15) 2 Against the ‘Democratic Turn’
Source:
Classics in the Modern World
Author(s):

Lorna Hardwick

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.003.0002

This chapter aims to raise some awkward issues and to provoke debate by looking critically at some of the assumptions underlying claims that there has been a ‘democratic turn’. It starts by reviewing some of the main counter-arguments (drawing on contexts of transmission, interpretation and artistic production, and consumption). The discussion then focuses on some key texts from epic, drama historiography, examining their more problematic implications. It is suggested that claims about a ‘democratic turn’ may be largely aspirational, even masking complacency about liberal democracies and their institutions and thus deflecting attention from the potential of classical texts to function as intellectual gadflies; there are links here with issues of social class, free speech, and participation. The chapter concludes by suggesting how the conditions necessary for a ‘democratic turn’ as a paradigm might be met in ways that do justice both to the densities and ambivalences of the texts and to their potential to contribute to modern democratic debates.

Keywords:   class, democratic, deliberation, free speech, liberal, paradigm, participation

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