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692 Rhetoric & Public Affairs Kenneth Burke and the 21st Century. Edited by Bernard L. Brock. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999; pp. vi+292. $21.95. The latest collection of essays stemming from the Kenneth Burke Society's triennial conferences, Kenneth Burke and the 21st Century, edited by Bernard L. Brock, joins the voices of today's leading Burkean scholars in suggesting a course of Burkean scholarship in the next century. Brock argues that one reason the "Burke project will continue to grow is that ideas inherent to his theory of dramatism are central to the conversation that is launching the twenty-first century" (1). Brock continues, "even though Kenneth Burke did not anticipate all the important issues that are moving us into the twenty-first century, his ideas will continue to be taken seriously" (13). The collection of 11 essays presented in the volume effectively serve to support these contentions, focusing on areas such as ecology, feminism, pragmatism , postmodernism, rhetorical criticism, and multiculturalism. The volume offers much for students of rhetoric, politics, and ethics. Brock opens the volume with an introduction that briefly charts the course of Burke's critical thought, from critical realist to conceptualist to coherentist. Brock also previews the issues facing critics entering the new century. Brock's argument is that while Burke anticipated many postmodern issues, Burke did not directly address feminism or multiculturalism. The first set of essays, under the rubric of "Symbolic Action," include pieces by Richard H. Thames, Star A. Muir, and David Blakesley. Both Thames and Muir seek "balance" in an age of technological advance. For Thames, balance is achieved through an organic perspective present in Burke's metabiology. Thames asserts, "Throughout his [Burke's] life he sought to persuade us that we have strayed far from our biologic sources; he struggled through his writing to return us to the basic biologic patterns of the 'good life'" (28). For Muir, balance is achieved through reflecting on our symbol systems, adopting at times the organic perspective, but at others the mechanistic metaphor. Muir contends, "The interplay of these perspectives has significant implications for tracing means by which the advance of Counter-Nature can be controlled" (65). Both Thames and Muir offer a rich view of Burke's attitudes toward ecology, technology, and biology. Blakesley grapples with Burke as pragmatist. His essay places Burke in the transition between traditional pragmatists and new pragmatists. Burke is not easy to classify in this sense, argues Blakesley. In the end, Blakesley calls on Burke's readers to perceive "his [Burke's] work as a dialectic of many voices" (93). By doing so, we may apply Burke's insights to the current debate over poststructuralism. The next two chapters specifically address Burke's appropriateness for feminist discourse and criticism. The two essays embark on a "reclamation project" of Burke's work. Karen A. Foss and Cindy L. White demystify the hierarchy of the motionaction dichotomy by introducing a third term, "being." They create a triad of terms Book Reviews 693 that is more compatible with feminism. Phyllis M. Japp turns Burke's four master tropes—metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony—against his work, specifically hierarchy, to illustrate that, perhaps, Burke's work can be reclaimed for feminist criticism . Japp encourages others to examine other parts of Burke's theory to determine if it can continue to be a "useful tradition" for feminist rhetorical criticism. The next three essays delve into postmodernism and multiculturalism, and Burke's usefulness in this area. George Cheney, Kathy Garvin-Doxas, and Kathleen Torrens examine Burke's implicit theory of power. Through a systematic discussion of Burke's treatment of power, the authors come to the conclusion that "Burke's implicit theory of power allows for the complexities that a good theory of power must have" (148). They encourage Burkean critics not to overlook "that which is unsaid" in Burke's theory of power relationships. Greig Henderson argues that Burke accommodates a more complete theory of language than does Paul de Man because Burke refuses to draw clear distinctions between discourse as grammatical, rhetorical, symbolical, and ethical. For Burke, these levels of discourse "intersect ambiguously" (153). The result is a theory...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5238
Print ISSN
1094-8392
Pages
pp. 692-694
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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