Revisiting Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric, Metaphor, History
The work of American rhetorician Kenneth Duva Burke (1897-1993) continues to exercise the attention of critics and spark controversy on account of its bewildering scope and its stylistic obscurity. This essay rereads two early works by Burke: Permanence and Change (1935) and Attitudes toward History (1937), for cues to a more articulate understanding of history and historiography through the lenses of poetry and rhetoric, and vice versa. The analysis of these two seminal texts aims to show how Burke’s eclectic approach, based on a keen eye for the workings of rhetoric over a wide and somewhat hazy cultural expanse, greatly enhances our awareness of the ways in which language as a symbolic strategy operates through and across discursive practices (in literature and history first but also, for instance, in the social sciences). Accordingly, the study reasserts the immediate relevance of the Burkean method (or lack thereof) for liberal academic studies today.
10/11/2014. Last visited 18/01/2017.
Amirthanayagam, Guy. Asian and Western Writers in Dialogue: New Cultural Identities. London:
Bentham, Jeremy. Deontology; Together with A Table of the Springs of Action and the Article on
Utilitarianism. Ed. Amnon Goldworth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
---. The Book of Fallacies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Biesecker, Barbara A. Addressing Postmodernity: Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, and a Theory of Social
Change. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997.
Booth, Wayne C. “Kenneth Burke’s Way of Knowing.” Critical Inquiry 1.1 (1974): 1–22.
Brock, Bernard L., and Kenneth Burke Society. Kenneth Burke and the 21st Century. Albany: State
University of New York Press, 1999.
Brown, Richard Harvey, and Stanford M. Lyman. Structure, Consciousness, and History.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978.
Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.
---. A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley. University of California Press, 1969.
---. Attitudes Toward History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
---. Counter-Statement. Los Altos, CA: Hermes Publications, 1953.
---. Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose. New York: New Republic, 1935.
---. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action. New York: Vintage, 1941.
---. Towards a Better Life: Being a Series of Epistles, or Declamations. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1982.
Burke, Kenneth, and William H. Rueckert. Essays toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955. West
Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2007.
De Man, Paul. Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1971.
Gabin, Rosalind J. “Entitling Kenneth Burke.” Rhetoric Review 5.2 (1987): 196–210.
Gibson, Keith. “Burke, Frazer, and Ritual: Attitudes Toward Attitudes.” The Journal of the Kenneth
Burke Society 3.1 (2006).
Jackson, Cody A. “The Rhetoric of Trump’s Battle.” The Silver Tongue. 11 Jan. 2016.
Kastely, James L. “Kenneth Burke’s Comic Rejoinder to the Cult of Empire.” College English 58.3
Lakoff, George. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Lentricchia, Frank. “Reading History with Kenneth Burke.” Representing Kenneth Burke. Baltimore:
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. 119–149.
Meadows, Paul. “The Semiotic of Kenneth Burke.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
18.1 (1957): 80.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1989.
Ogden, C.K., and I.A. Richards. The Meaning of Meaning. A Study of The Influence of Language
upon Thought and of The Science of Symbolism. London: Kegan Paul, 1945.
Ong, Walter J. Ramus: Method, and the Decay of Dialogue: From the Art of Discourse to the Art of
Reason. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.
Pike, Kenneth L. Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior.
The Hague: Mouton, 1967.
Rueckert, William H. Critical Responses to Kenneth Burke, 1924-1966. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1969.
Schaeffer, John D. “Vico and Kenneth Burke.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 26.2 (1996): 7–17.
Von Ihering, Rudolf. Law as a Means to an End. Boston: The Boston Book Company, 1913.
Warnock, Mary. Memory. London: Faber and Faber, 1987.
Warnock, Tilly. “Reading Kenneth Burke: Ways In, Ways Out, Ways Roundabout.” College English
48.1 (1986): 62.
Wess, Robert. Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric, Subjectivity, Postmodernism. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996.
White, Hayden V., and Margaret Brose. Representing Kenneth Burke. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1982.
Wolin, Ross. The Rhetorical Imagination of Kenneth Burke. Columbia: University of South Carolina
Zappen, P., S.M. Halloran, and Scott A. Wible. “Some Notes on ‘Ad Bellum Purificandum’.” The
Journal of the Kenneth Burke Society Website. Last visited 24/03/2017.
LicenseIperstoria is an Open Access journal.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 BY-NC License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of their work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. We require authors to inform us of any instances of re-publication.