Addressing Postmodernity: Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, and a by Barbara A. Biesecker

By Barbara A. Biesecker

Addressing Postmodernity examines the connection among rhetoric and social swap and the methods people remodel social family members during the functional use of symbols. via an in depth interpreting of Kenneth Burke's significant works, A Grammar of factors, A Rhetoric of factors, and The Rhetoric of faith: reports in Logology, Barbara Biesecker addresses the severe subject of the fragmentation of the modern lifeworld. In revealing the entire diversity of Burke's contribution to the opportunity of social switch, Biesecker presents an unique interpretation of Burke's most vital principles. Addressing Postmodernity may have an immense effect on Burkeian scholarship and at the rhetorical critique of social family members in general.

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Extra info for Addressing Postmodernity: Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, and a Theory of Social Change (Studies in Rhetoric and Communication)

Example text

Most certainly, if we take Burke's argument seriously, the action/motion differential Burke presupposes, and to an extent develops, cannot be taken merely as a convenient taxonomy by means of which we can identify the various beings in the world as belonging to the human or nonhuman domains. Moreover, the incursion into the "double genesis of motive" enables us to decipher the double function of the pentad, which, to this point, has been taken merely as a means for interpreting texts. If, as I have suggested, motive proper is a structure of difference and not a positive presence (it "produces something out of nothing" [66]), and if dialectic is Burke's term for the provisional finessing of that irreducible differential (the outcome of which is a human act), then motive is precisely that which effaces itself in the midst of its material appearance.

Rhetoric" (xix). Thus to the question "what are we to make of the fact that the Manifesto itself is an act of propaganda" we must respond, absolutely nothing at all since rhetoric is not one of our concerns here. At the same time, however, the conduct of Burke's text tells us that the question cannot be taken entirely as a rhetorical gesture: the rest of his essay is a serious response to it. What are we to make of this precarious moment in Burke's text, this question that both asks about and marks the impossibility of answering to the constitutive role of rhetoric in the construction of discourses?

Xix-xx) In this extraordinarily interesting passage to which I will return more than once, Burke schematically outlines the plans for a new project. A Grammar of Motives, he tells us, is the beginning point, the first book in this trilogy of motives. It is to be followed by A Rhetoric of Motives, and the Symbolic will mark its completion. Now, taking our heuristic cue from Gayatri Spivak (who takes hers from Derrida) and tracking carefully Burke's declarations about the structure of this project, we could make a grammatical allegory of the promised trilogy: Subject (Grammar); Copula (Rhetoric); Predicate (Symbolic).

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