Burke in the Archives
Using the Past to Transform the Future of Burkean Studies
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
Table of Contents
Series Editor’s Preface
In 1974 Penn State University purchased the first of several sections of the archives of Kenneth Burke. Further acquisitions have extended that first purchase—first twelve linear feet of letters and other papers; then in 2000 to 2005 another twenty-five linear feet. Most recently another eighteen linear feet of materials, including correspondence, manuscripts, notes, reviews, and related materials were added to ...
As doctoral students at Penn State University over a decade ago, we both took a graduate seminar with Jack Selzer on Kenneth Burke. A key (and renowned) part of the course was Jack’s introduction of graduate students to the Kenneth Burke Papers held at the Paterno Library. We both remember it well. ...
Abbreviations for Works by Kenneth Burke
Introduction: Retrospective Prospecting—Notes toward a Future
The future of Burke studies: Efforts to secure it have been pronounced since even before Burke’s passing. In 1966, for example, Burke himself expressed his concern for such a future. In a new foreword written that year for the second edition of The Philosophy of Literary Form, he penned his hope that his insights into human symbol use might “meet the tests of ‘long-pull investment’” (vii). More than two decades ...
Burke by the Letters: Exploring the Kenneth Burke Archives
The Special Collections Library at the Pennsylvania State University Libraries houses the Kenneth Burke Papers, rich collections that include Burke’s correspondence with prominent twentieth-century Americans and source materials for his major books, essays, poetry, and early fiction.1 Since 1974 research in the Burke archives has continued to increase and contribute to our understanding of the life and works ...
Finding the Time for Burke
If there is one thing rhetoric scholars have agreed on, it is that Kenneth Burke was ahead of his time. As Greg Jay observes, “It seems that the uncanny Burke is always one step ahead of his fellow critics” (169). Burke, we’ve been told over the last thirty years, “anticipate[d] so much of what is considered avant-garde today” (Fish 500); “anticipated . . . what have become the most stylish paradoxes in the ...
Burke, Mumford, and the Poetics of Technology: Marxism’s Influence on Burke’s Critique of Technologology
In 1934 Kenneth Burke’s Plowshare essay “On Interpretation” landed on the desk of the influential public intellectual and New Yorker critic Lewis Mumford. A month later another Burke article, “My Approach to Communism,” arrived on Mumford’s desk. Mumford read through both pieces with some interest, noting an affinity between Burke’s mediations on interpretation, technology, and communism and ...
Burke and Jameson: Reflections on Language, Ideology, and Criticism
In September 1977 the English Institute dedicated its annual meeting to the work of Kenneth Burke. From Burke’s perspective the entire institute was a disaster: some of the keynote speakers failed to send him advance notices of their comments; the chairman of the institute, Hayden White, allowed so much time for comments from the floor that Burke was left with no time to deliver the responses he had stayed ...
On the Limits of Human: Haggling with Burke’s “Definition of Man”
In 1975 a young graduate student at the University of Oregon named Barbara Bate wrote to Kenneth Burke to request a meeting at the Western Speech Communication conference in Seattle. At the time Bate was beginning her dissertation, which investigated how male and female faculty responded to gender-neutral language, and how women in particular have been affected by the use of generic masculine ...
Burke and the Positive Potentials of Technology: Recovering the “Complete Literary Event”
Kenneth Burke often wrote in his published work about the effects of science and technology on society. The majority of those writings have left readers with the impression that Burke was at least skeptical and perhaps even downright negative about the consequences of our modern scientific rationalization. One set of documents from the Kenneth Burke Papers at the Penn State archives challenges the ...
Burke in/on Public and Private: Rhetoric, Propaganda, and the “End(s)” of Humanism
In his early work Kenneth Burke was fond of noting the multitude of “selves” that individuals represent, the subjective or perceptual positions produced both by the variety of orientations of a given subject as well as the diversity of interpretations others might have of them.1 Studies of Burke’s work often begin or end by noting the quixotic legacy in twentieth-century intellectual history produced by two such “selves.” ...
The Dramatism Debate, Archived: The Pentad as “Terministic” Ontology
Burke begins A Grammar of Motives with the following passage: “What is involved, when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it? An answer to that question is the subject of this book. The book is concerned with the basic forms of thought which, in accordance with the nature of the world as all men necessarily experience it, are exemplified in the attributing of motives. . . . We shall use ...
Notes from the Abyss: Variations on a (Mystical) Theme in Burke’s Work
In notes for a review of John Peale and Edmund Wilson’s book of short stories The Undertaker’s Garland (1922), Kenneth Burke reported on a terrible dream: “I had died, yet still was living: I existed as a bit of disembodied mind, alone in the infiniteness of space, nothing but my own abstract identity, without flesh, without surrounding objects, with nothing but a vague sense of nothingness that stretched on ...
“Talk about how your language is constructed”: Kenneth Burke’s Vision for University-wide Dialogue
In her contribution to this collection, Ann George troubles the claim frequently made by rhetoric scholars that “Kenneth Burke was ahead of his time.” George demonstrates that rather than being “dismissed, embattled, misunderstood” by his contemporaries Burke instead prompted vigorous responses from critics and admirers alike who “typically did not perceive his work as irrelevant or inscrutable.” ...
Historiography by Incongruity
In the spring of 1932 Burke traded letters with Elizabeth Parker, the widow of Dr. George M. Parker, a well-regarded New York psychiatrist who for a time served as the psychiatric examiner for the Prison Association of New York and who became an outspoken opponent of prison overcrowding.1 Burke had been recommended to Mrs. Parker as a good candidate to complete her husband’s unfinished ...
Afterword: My Archival Habit
My graduate school roommate, Bob Kruger, loves fishing. (I don’t.) When I once asked Bob to explain his fondness for sitting in a small boat for hours, casting time after time (after time) in the hope of hooking something, he fell back on his psychology studies as an explanation: “It’s called ‘selective reinforcement,’ Jack,” he explained. When I looked puzzled, he put it into concrete terms so that even I could ...