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

By Barbara A. Biesecker

Addressing Postmodernity examines the connection among rhetoric and social switch and the methods humans remodel social relatives throughout the functional use of symbols. via a detailed examining of Kenneth Burke's significant works, A Grammar of explanations, A Rhetoric of factors, and The Rhetoric of faith: reports in Logology, Barbara Biesecker addresses the serious subject of the fragmentation of the modern lifeworld. In revealing the complete variety of Burke's contribution to the potential for social switch, Biesecker offers an unique interpretation of Burke's most important rules. Addressing Postmodernity can have an incredible influence on Burkeian scholarship and at the rhetorical critique of social family members in general.

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

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In anticipation of such charges I simply say that I only demand of Burke what he always demanded of others: that we engage in persistent critique, that we refuse to forget that it is always "more complicated than that" (1970, 277). Indeed, borrowing the words of Louis Dupre on Marx, I would suggest that "[t]he very nature of [Burke's] undertaking excludes uncritical acceptance" and that "[o]ne hardly serves the interests of an oeuvre written against the uncritical use of authority by taking its own authority for granted" (13).

Nonetheless, I will argue in the second chapter that something other than that is also occurring there. In addition to presenting and applying a calculus for determining the motivational center of texts that have been written by others, Burke works over the course of the Grammar toward answering the underside of his inaugurating question, What is motive? Put somewhat differently, I will argue that inscribed in the Grammar is an attempt to specify the conditions of possibility for human action and individual agency.

In the last chapter of the boolz my point will not be, as I indicated above, merely to dismantle Burke's enterprise. To the contrary, my intent will be to reinvigorate it by specifying the contributions such a reading of Burke's trivium of motives can maIze to the contemporary discussion about the unique challenges postmodernity poses to social theorists and critics. In order to do so, I will situate Burlzeian dramatism and logology in specific relation to Jiirgen Habermas's universal pragmatics not simply because Habermas has managed to seize the attention of leading rhetorical theorists and critics, but more importantly because his worlz represents one of the most serious and sustained engagements with the role of communicative or symbolic action in the formation and reformation of collective life in the late twentieth century.

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