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Constitutional Law

2010

Law and Society

Robert L Tsai

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The Ethics Of Melancholy Citizenship, Robert L. Tsai May 2010

The Ethics Of Melancholy Citizenship, Robert L. Tsai

Robert L Tsai

As a body of work, the poetry of Langston Hughes presents a vision of how members of a political community ought to comport themselves, particularly when politics yield few tangible solutions to their problems. Confronted with human degradation and bitter disappointment, the best course of action may be to abide by the ethics of melancholy citizenship. A mournful disposition is associated with four democratic virtues: candor, pensiveness, fortitude, and self-abnegation. Together, these four characteristics lead us away from democratic heartbreak and toward renewal. Hughes’s war-themed poems offer a richly layered example of melancholy ethics in action. They reveal how ...