9780520001961-228x228I’ve read a lot of Kenneth Burke and I really haven’t been a fan, although I used him a lot while teaching rhetorical analysis. His literary criticism always rubs me the wrong way and seems simplistic. Nonetheless, I keep getting sucked back into him.

I remember an old advisor frequently dismissed him claiming that though his frameworks were interesting they were far too vague and subject to interpretation to be useful in any concrete way.

My current theory is that perhaps its because I’ve primarily focused on the later Burke (Rhetoric of Motives, Grammar of MotivesLanguage as Symbolic Action, etc.) that I’ve missed the magic of his attempting to solve important problems in their seminal phase, reading to somewhat stuffy ossified versions instead. I think I should go back to the drawing board and start with Counter-Statement, his 1931 opening salvo.

This is Burke at his “loosest” I’m told, which is exactly what my advisor hated, but I’m thinking that it might be more useful to me than his more direct applications of “methods” to literature and life. Continue reading “Counter-Statement”