Visual communication in the public sphere

Tara M. Buehner, Erich J. Sommerfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In his Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1991) Jürgen Habermas emphasizes rational-critical discussion and writings while negating the visual form of communication. He associates such discourse with the rise of mass media and the end of the public sphere. This paper presents a case study of the 2008-2009 Bible Across America (BAA) project, which drew over 37,000 people together from around the nation to partake in visually-imbued compilation of an otherwise common text-the Holy Bible. While Habermas lamented this kind visual adornment as degrading to rational-critical thought, this case suggests the power of the visual to raise publics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Communication Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bible
  • Habermas
  • Public sphere
  • Visual communication
  • Visuals


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