will present his latest pictorial essay from the Anna Pierrepont Series “Speaking through the City: The Eviction(s) of the Triumph of Civic Virtue over Unrighteousness” to the .
In conceiving imaginative ownership of time as a core index of personality, and adopting irony as its characteristic rhetoric, Richard Steele, Oliver Goldsmith, Washington Irving, and other essayists offer [End Page 389] "whimsicality" as an antidote to the unreflective, self-involved bundle of compulsions they identify as modern individualism. This whimsical individual, enlightened not so much by critical reason as by his refusal to surrender his personality and creative idiosyncrasy to the culture of consumption proliferating around him, later bequeaths to Emerson a rhetoric with which to oppose the "smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times." Yet Emerson's hope that self-reliance "is somewhat better than whim at last" shows his sense that whimsy, as he inherited it, had already done all the work it could do in forging the paradoxical alignment of strong individualism with universal humanity that Emerson is after. As a result, he tries to get beyond the conceptual conundrum that has dogged whimsicality from the beginning; namely, that the language of republican civic virtue that elevated the initial claims of whimsy to an ethical posture also threatens to undermine the stance by virtue of its internal logic, according to which whim can appear as little more than a quietist retreat from civic engagement.
Rush, however, explicitly directs his physiological approach to pedagogy toward republican goals, and his invocation of republican machines thus also draws on a more politicized and metaphorical discourse of mechanism in early America as well as a scientific one. Where the literature of national founding routinely employs a lexicon of mechanical construction in the representation of beginning the world anew and fashioning an improved "machinery" of government, Rush's phraseology uses the same trope to sketch an individual's exemplary relation to that government. The idea of a citizen-machine dutifully playing his civic part reproduces on a personal level the goals and ideals of America's new political arrangement, whose orderly, hierarchical structure, harmonious, regular motion, and sheer constructibility are beautifully epitomized by mechanism's physical qualities and aesthetic appeal. At the same time, however, the contradictions and inconsistencies in Rush's essay suggest that the discourse of mechanism he invokes captures not simply an optimistic rhetoric of national construction but also a means of representing more fundamental political problems at the heart of the nation's founding. Comparing Rush's work to that of his more famous contemporary purveyor of standardized virtue, Benjamin Franklin, illuminates the ways in which the concept of a machine perfectly analogizes the fundamental tension between order and liberty at stake in the new republic.
Research what has, and has not, been considered to be "civic virtues" throughout history. Then, relate those values to your own. Then, and only then, write your essay.
Civil Disobedience (Thoreau) - Wikipedia
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