From the Preface:The title for this collection was the title of a course in literary criticism that I gave for many years at Bennington College. And much of the material presented here was used in that course. The title should serve well to convey the gist of these various pieces. For all of them are explicitly concerned with the attempt to define and track down the implications of the term "symbolic action," and to show how the marvels of literature and language look when considered form that point of view.
Kenneth Burke's innovative use of dramatism and dialectical method have made him a powerful critical force in an extraordinary variety of disciplines—education, philosophy, history, psychology, religion, and others. While most widely acclaimed as a literary critic, Burke has elaborated a perspective toward the study of behavior and society that holds immense significance and rich insights for sociologists. This original anthology brings together for the first time Burke's key writings on symbols and social relations to offer social scientists access to Burke's thought. In his superb introductory essay, Joseph R. Gusfield traces the development of Burke's approach to human action and its relationship to other similar sources of theory and ideas in sociology; he discusses both Burke's influence on sociologists and the limits of his perspective. Burke regards literature as a form of human behavior—and human behavior as embedded in language. His lifework represents a profound attempt to understand the implications for human behavior based on the fact that humans are "symbol-using animals." As this volume demonstrates, the work that Burke produced from the 1930s through the 1960s stands as both precursor and contemporary key to recent intellectual movements such as structuralism, symbolic anthropology, phenomenological and interpretive sociology, critical theory, and the renaissance of symbolic interaction.
Language is not simply a tool for communication - symbolic power struggles underlie any speech act, discourse move, or verbal interaction, be it in face-to-face conversations, online tweets or political debates. This book provides a clear and accessible introduction to the topic of language and power from an applied linguistics perspective. It is clearly split into three sections: the power of symbolic representation, the power of symbolic action and the power to create symbolic reality. It draws upon a wide range of existing work by philosophers, sociolinguists, sociologists and applied linguists, and includes current real-world examples, to provide a fresh insight into a topic that is of particular significance and interest in the current political climate and in our increasingly digital age. The book shows the workings of language as symbolic power in educational, social, cultural and political settings and discusses ways to respond to and even resist symbolic violence.
This volume contains the work Burke planned to include in the third book in his Motivorum trilogy. Following Rueckert's Introduction, Burke lays out his approach in essays that theorize and illustrate the method, which he considered essential for understanding language as symbolic action and human relations generally.
Kenneth Burke may be best known for his theories of dramatism and of language as symbolic action, but few know him as one of the twentieth century's foremost theorists of the relationship between language and bodies. In Moving Bodies, Debra Hawhee focuses on Burke's studies from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s while illustrating that his interest in reading the body as a central force of communication began early in his career. By exploring Burke's extensive writings on the subject alongside revealing considerations of his life and his scholarship, Hawhee maps his recurring invocation of a variety of disciplinary perspectives in order to theorize bodies and communication, working across and even beyond the arts, humanities, and sciences. Burke's sustained analysis of the body drew on approaches representing a range of specialties and interests, including music, mysticism, endocrinology, evolution, speech-gesture theory, and speech-act theory, as well as his personal experiences with pain and illness. Hawhee shows that Burke's goal was to advance understanding of the body's relationship to identity, to the creation of meaning, and to the circulation of language. Her study brings to the fore one of Burke's most important and understudied contributions to language theory.
This volume brings together Pierre Bourdieu's highly original writings on language and on the relations among language, power, and politics. Bourdieu develops a forceful critique of traditional approaches to language, including the linguistic theories of Saussure and Chomsky and the theory of speech-acts elaborated by Austin and others. He argues that language should be viewed not only as a means of communication but also as a medium of power through which individuals pursue their own interests and display their practical competence. Drawing on the concepts that are part of his distinctive theoretical approach, Bourdieu maintains that linguistic utterances or expressions can be understood as the product of the relation between a "linguistic market" and a "linguistic habitus." When individuals use language in particular ways, they deploy their accumulated linguistic resources and implicitly adapt their words to the demands of the social field or market that is their audience. Hence every linguistic interaction, however personal or insignificant it may seem, bears the traces of the social structure that it both expresses and helps to reproduce. Bourdieu's account sheds fresh light on the ways in which linguistic usage varies according to considerations such as class and gender. It also opens up a new approach to the ways in which language is used in the domain of politics. For politics is, among other things, the arena in which words are deeds and the symbolic character of power is at stake. This volume, by one of the leading social thinkers in the world today, represents a major contribution to the study of language and power. It will be of interest to students throughout the social sciences and humanities, especially in sociology, politics, anthropology, linguistics, and literature.
On Human Nature: A Gathering While Everything Flows brings together the late essays, autobiographical reflections, an interview, and a poem by the eminent literary theorist and cultural critic Kenneth Burke (1897-1993). Burke, author of Language as Symbolic Action, A Grammar of Motives, and Rhetoric of Motives, among other works, was an innovative and original thinker who worked at the intersection of sociology, psychology, literary theory, and semiotics. This book, a selection of fourteen representative pieces of his productive later years, addresses many important themes Burke tackled throughout his career such as logology (his attempt to find a universal language theory and methodology), technology, and ecology. The essays also elaborate Burke's notions about creativity and its relation to stress, language and its literary uses, the relation of mind and body, and more. Provocative, idiosyncratic, and erudite, On Human Nature makes a significant statement about cultural linguistics and is an important rounding-out of the Burkean corpus.
"The system is a coherent and total vision, a self-contained and internally consistent way of viewing man, the various scenes in which he lives, and the drama of human relations enacted upon those scenes."—W. H. Rueckert, Kenneth Burke and the Drama of Human Relations
A valuable feature of the second edition (1953) of Counter-Statement was the Curriculum Criticum in which the author placed the book in terms of his later work. For this new paperback edition, Mr. Burke continues his "curve of development" in an Addendum which surveys the course of his though in subsequent books (up to the publication of his Collected Poems, 1915 - 1967) and work-in-progress.
Mics, Cameras, Symbolic Action: Audio-Visual Rhetoric for Writing Teachers begins by placing audio-visual writing within established theoretical frames in rhetoric and composition and moves through a variety of applied pedagogical concerns with the aim of helping writing teachers use audio-visual writing assignments to realize a wide variety of learning goals in their writing classes.
Previously unpublished writings by and about Kenneth Burke plus essays by such Burkean luminaries as Wayne C. Booth, William H. Rueckert, Robert Wess, Thomas Carmichael, and Michael Feehan make the publication of Unending Conversations a significant event in the field of Burke studies and in the wider field of literary criticism and theory. Editors Greig Henderson and David Cratis Williams have divided their material into three parts: ?Dialectics of Expression, Communication, and Transcendence,” ?Criticism, Symbolicity, and Tropology,” and ?Transcendence and the Theological Motive.” In the first part, Williams's textual introduction and Rueckert's essay analyze the genesis and composition of Burke's A Symbolic of Motives and Poetics, Dramatistically Considered. Henderson opens part two by showing how these two essays' concerns with literary form hearken back to Burke's first book of criticism, Counter-Statement. Thomas Carmichael discusses Burke's relationship to thinkers such as Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Stanley Fish, Fredric Jameson, Jean-François Lyotard, and Richard Rorty. Wess analyzes the relation between Burke's dramatistic pentad of act, agent, scene, agency, and purpose and his four master tropes?metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. In the third part, Booth mines his unpublished correspondence with Burke to demonstrate that Burke is a coy theologian. Michael Feehan discusses Burke's revelation in a 1983 interview that rather than rebounding from a naive kind of Marxism in Permanence and Change, he was rebounding from what he had ?learned as a Christian Scientist.”