Major Print or Multimedia Project

From the course description . . .

Major Print or Multimedia Project: At the end of the semester, submit a research essay, hypertext, or other multimedia project that draws on course readings and any other work relevant to your subject matter and advances a position on a topic of potential interest to others in your field of study and that draws significantly on course readings. A list of suggested topics will be provided. Length: 4,000 – 8,000 words or the equivalent. You may think of this project as a conference presentation or the draft of a project to submit for publication to a journal. (30% of course grade)


You have a number of format options for your project, but what should be common across all is content that elaborates or exploits ideas, terms, readings, concepts and the like discussed or read in class and that radiate from or focus on Burke's work. If you choose to develop an article, you could focus specifically on issues in Burke, drawing on secondary sources as needed to support your discussion. Or you could draw on Burkiean concepts to illuminate some other topic in your areas of interest. If you apply Burke, the application should be richly textured so that the concepts you apply are represented as complexly as they are in Burke's own work (as much as possible). If you choose another form for your project, such as a conference presentation, you could do much the same, but your presentation should be supported by content that will keep your audience with you. So visual or other content should support your paper/presentation. If you decide to develop a multimedia or other project, it should be one that will fill a need in Burkiean or rhetorical scholarship and that could be presented online or at a conference as an installation (for example). You can imagine that whichever course you choose that your final project would be suitable for publication or presentation in a venue where Burke scholars will find it a genuine contribution to "Burkology" (written with tongue-in-cheek, as Burke would have it).

Week 15, April 23

Wednesday, April 23

Due Today

  • Burke, Language as Symbolic Action (Part 1 and Part 3: 294-418)
  • Burke, Towards Helhaven
  • Explication: Post a response to any of the readings for this week. Use the tags: explication and any others that may be appropriate. Separate tags with a comma. It's best to always user lower-case to ensure consistency (improperly tagged posts tend to get lost or unread). Please review the Sample Explication for guidelines

On Your Own

  • First 10 minutes: Read and respond to some of the reading responses posted for today.

Group Activities

  • Work on MOOC, Engagement, and Individual Projects
  • Discussion of Readings
  • Book Presentations: Kenneth Burke and the Conversation after Philosophy, Mike; Transcendence by Perspective: Meditations on and with Kenneth Burke, Kate; Ralph Ellison and Kenneth Burke: At the Roots of the Racial Divide, A.D.

Language as Symbolic Action

"Even if any given terminology is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as a terminology it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent is must also function as a deflection of reality". - Kenneth Burke, Language as Symbolic Action, p. 45.

Language as Symbolic Action, pt. 1

"Gnaw! / I fear it all started / not from some morbid baystard in need of reassurance / . . . / rather it got here through . . . the inability to glimpse . . . [that] a match was dropped / by such a one of us who / except for a moron can buy boxes of in a supermarket / couldn't strike up a fire / no matter how ardently he tried (stop)."

T B A . . .

Language as Symbolic Action

We here confront a mere matter of terministic policy. And since the body does, beyond question, affect our thinking by providing us with analogies, to that extent the policy can serve. We'd go along with him, just for the ride, were it not that he later uses this terministic device to the ends of faulty interpretation as regards our current quandaries. On that point, more anon. (Pg. 412)

A Rhetoric of Motives

“In public relations, most expressions are as though wigwagged from a great distance, or as uttered behind masks, or as transmitted by hearsay. Hence, one must go to the first frank level of analysis, the extra verbally behavioristic.” pg 185

Irony, Context, and Danny Kaye

In seeking a key term for the pattern of thought underlying the works of Anatole France, Mr. Chevalier (in The Ironic Temper: Anatole France and His Times holds that an insistence upon France's irony as a central fact makes possible "an organic account of the contradictory elements in the man himself." By his interpretation ...


The "symbol-using animal," yes, obviously.

"Definition of Man" Language as Symbolic Action 5

What are Burke's Relationships with Language?

At the other extreme, each of us shares with all other members of our kind (the often-inhuman human species) the fatal fact that, however the situation came to be, all members of our species conceive of reality somehwat roundabout, through various media of symbolism. (Language as Symbolic Action 52, original emphasis)

Mystery of Language

The ultimate origins of language seem to me as mysterious as the origins of the universe itself. One must view it, I feel, simply as the "given." (44)


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