Flowers and Billy Clubs The Beauty and Danger of Ethical Citizenship

Russ Castronovo

in Beautiful Democracy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780226096285
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226096308 | DOI:
Flowers and Billy Clubs The Beauty and Danger of Ethical Citizenship

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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If aesthetics are a starting point to ethical citizenship, it is worth remembering that starting points do not necessarily lead to their destinations and that the path from aesthetic perception to democratic sensibility is not always a straight one. Even when links between aesthetics and justice seem secure and predictable, subjects whose emotions and instincts are quickened by beauty often fail to arrive at their moral destinations, their ethical baggage misplaced and their capacity for civic obedience lost along the way. When aesthetics are charged with bearing the burden of representing and cultivating the mass, the people, the proletariat, or any of the various collectivities implied by the looseness of democracy, art and beauty seem that much more rickety, that is, contingent.

Keywords: aesthetics; ethical citizenship; justice; civic obedience; proletariat; democracy; art; beauty

Chapter.  14385 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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