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Introducing

Kenneth Burke

Lesley Duckworth, Spencer Hill, Chelsea Moore, Rachel Muller, Krissy Zampaglione


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Introducing Kenneth Burke


Biography

Rachel Muller

Kenneth Duva Burke was born May 5, 1897 in Pittsburg Pennsylvania. He attended college at Columbia University for one year before dropping out of school in 1917 to become a writer. Burke then relocated to Greenwich Village in New York which at the time was a bohemian haven for artists. He married Lily Mary Batterham in 1919, with whom he had three daughters. In 1933 he married Lily Batterham’s sister and have two sons with her (Selzer).

Burke was an editor for an American literary magazine called the Dial in 1923 and served as their music critic from 1927-1929. In 1928 he received the Dial Award an award presented to a contributor of the Dial magazine acknowledging their service and giving them $2000 to help provide them “leisure through which at least one artist may serve God (or go to the Devil) according to his own lights.� He was the last of eight people to receive this award, among these eight were noted literary icon T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings, and Ezra Pound (The Dial). He died of heart failure at age 96 in his home in Andover, New Jersey on November 19, 1993.

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Historical Context

Rachel Muller

Born into the age of immigration, baseball, and American literature, Kenneth Burke has been considered one of the twentieth century’s most influential critics. Burke spent much of his long and prolific life striving to understand the complexities of humans as the “symbol-using, symbol mis-using animal” (Kunitz). The point in history in which Kenneth Burke was inserted as a rhetorician is important because the timing dictates Burkes’ predecessors as well as his contemporaries. His own theories were advanced on the fusion of the ideas of Freud and Marx. He was first exposed to these ideas by a friend, and a student of Freud-Leon Adler (Gura). Two major themes reoccur in Burkes work throughout his career and both of these themes can be traced back to either Freudian or Marxist roots. Burke says rhetoric is, “concerned with the state of Babel after the fall” (Burke). “Aristotle believed that rhetoric was situational and defined it as ‘the art of finding in any given situation the available means of persuasion.’ Twenty-three centuries later, literary and rhetorical critic Kenneth Burke placed his dramatistic approach to rhetoric in scene which included not only the stage of action but the backdrop of values, attitudes, and opinions for the speech”(Smith).

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Introducing Kenneth Burke


Chelsea Moore

Burke’s Rhetoric: Key Terms and Concepts Rhetoric is rooted in an essential function of language itself, a function that is wholly realistic and continually born anew: the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols.

Rhetoric is the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or induce actions in other human agents.

Action v. Motion: The animal moves; the human motivates, mediates, and defines those actions with symbols. One must be free to act; there must be the will to act; there must also be motion. Because all human motion and action is based on motive, we need rhetoric to dig out the motives of humans and the world around us. Identification: one of the most crucial elements of rhetoric in Burke’s ideology, he might even say that identification replaces rhetoric. In A Rhetoric of Motives, Burke says “you persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his.” Identification can be a highly effective tool in rhetoric.

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Chelsea Moore

Burke’s Rhetoric: Key Terms and Concepts MOTIVES are the factors which give meaning to motions; the action of all humanity arises from motives

Alienation/Dissociation: Burke argues that our egos -- as defined by one of Burke’s major influences Sigmund Freud-- seek to find people that have similar values, motives, etc. as we do. We seek to find someone that we can identify with so that we can gain validation of our own personalities. Alienation or dissociation as the opposite of identification, then, gives rise to the need for rhetoric. Because we feel dissociated from others we must use rhetoric to discover the motives of other people and thus, hopefully, be able to identify with them. Unconscious Motivation: While motivations behind rhetoric can be conscious and intentional, they can also be unconscious (such as the unconscious desire of one’s ego to find similar egos) Self as Audience: similar to the idea that we attempt to convince others in the same way the we convince ourselves, Burke thought that both Inter- and Intra- personal communication could be rhetorical

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Introducing Kenneth Burke


Burke’s Rhetoric: Key Terms and Concepts

Burke’s pentad allows us to discover the motivation of an action through the evaluation of these five components that go into the action. Act: according to Smith this is “the ‘what...’ the action that is taken, the act that makes the drama.” Agent: also referred to as the actor, according to Smith this is the “who” behind the action Agency: related to Lloyd Bitzer’s concept of constraints, agency is how an action is achieved, or the means and methods by which an action is achieved Purpose: this is the why behind any rhetorical action; according to Smith “it features ends over means, and the philosophy of mysticism.” Scene: this is the when and where of a given action or rhetorical situation, or in a way the context that surrounds a situation.

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Kristina Zampaglione

Burke’s Influences

Burke was influenced by Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Friedrich Nietzsche. He is also thought to have been very influenced by Thorstein Veblen, who was a American economist and sociologist. Burke did not want to be labeled as a follower of any philosopical or political school of thought; He had a very public break with the Marxists.

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Karl Marx

http://www.historyguide.org/ intellect/marx.html

Friedrich Nietzsche http://www.iep.utm.edu/ni-

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Introducing Kenneth Burke


Influenced By Burke

Kristina Zampaglione

The people that Burke influenced include Harold Bloom who is an American writer and literary critic. He is a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He said he have tried to find an alternative father in Mr. Kenneth Burke, who is a charming fellow and a very powerful critic. Stanley Cavell, Susan Sontag who was a student of his.She was an American essayist, literary icon, and political activist whose works include On Photography, Against Interpretation, The Way We Live Now, and Regarding the Pain of Others and Erving Goffman, along with many others.

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Lesley Duckworth

Contemporaries

Kenneth Burke corresponded with a number of literary critics, thinkers, and writers over the years including William Carlos Williams, Malcolm Cowley, Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, Ralph Ellison, Katherine Anne Porter, Jean Toomer, Hart Crane, and Marianne Moore.

Kenneth Burke was heavily influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Friedrich Nietzsche

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Introducing Kenneth Burke


Major Works

Lesley Duckworth

Counter-Statement (1931) "Towards a Better Life" (1932) Permanence and Change (1935) Attitudes Toward History (1937) The Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle" (1939) Philosophy of Literary Form (1941) A Grammar of Motives (1945) A Rhetoric of Motives (1950) The Rhetoric of Religion (1961) Language As Symbolic Action (1966) Dramatism and Development (1972) (lecture) Here and Elsewhere (2005)- collected fiction of Kenneth burke Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives (2006) Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare (2007)

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Spencer Hill

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Introducing Kenneth Burke


Spencer Hill

influences

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burke draft