Indexing: Kenneth Burke's Method of Textual Analysis


"Properly understood, Indexing is the key to Burke's theory of what a literary text is and how it works"

                                  William H. Rueckert


Part of the power of the method comes from a kind of distant reading. By removing terms from the words in their immediate context and putting them in different spatial relationships with other  terms, we start seeing the meaning of the word in a different way, and it becomes clearer how these structures (which are already there but hidden) and the other words in them give an individual word a special meaning. For example, how  does the meaning of WORD shift for you when it is seen in the clustered, networked, and hierarchical relationship with other Burkean terms?