More than four decades after its initial publication, Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere remains an unavoidable starting point for studies of early eighteenth-century print culture. For Habermas, of course, the development of English coffee house culture and its periodical press marked the emergence of a potentially egalitarian discursive space, a realm governed more by the rational force of the better argument than by the institutional force of existing power relations.1 Extending Habermas’s argument, historian Lawrence Klein recently argued that fi gures like Anthony Ashley Cooper (Third Earl of Shaftesbury), Joseph Addison, and Richard Steele promoted an urbane ethos of sociability through their ideal of polite conversation, a form of dialogue that offered a “normative framework for human relations since its conventions implied the values of freedom, equality, activity, pleasure, and restraint.”2 For Habermas’s critics, on the other hand, this interpretation of the post-Restoration public sphere is compromised: either by the blind spots in Habermas’s theory itself-especially regarding issues of gender and class-or by the fact that Habermas’s Enlightenment publicness was managed by precisely those empowered Englishmen whose interests it was supposed to scrutinize.3 But both Habermasians and their opponents leave unquestioned the claim that post-Restoration English writers imagined their public sphere as a form of dialogic, conversational sociability focused on “rational-critical public debate.”4 Addison and Steele, however, insisted that their paradigmatic periodical the Spectator (1711-1714), despite its print dissemination, should be thought of as a vehicle for privately consumed, surrogate visuality-a spectatorial model of publicness.5