Dramatism: Sources on the Rhetorical Kenneth Burke

Kenneth Burke was an American literary theorist where he was most known for his analyses based on the nature of knowledge. However, more importantly he was one of the first theorist to view literature as “symbolic action” rather than simply traditional rhetoric. His work in rhetorical theory and criticism in communication and rhetoric is thorough and used widely in the learning and understanding of rhetoric today. This bibliography is inclusive on Burkean rhetorical theory and criticism in communication and rhetoric. There may be separate bibliographies on areas of theory to which his work contributes elsewhere.

Kenneth Burke is an important figure in modern rhetorical criticism. Burke is responsible for the way we look at symbolic interaction as drama; this is called Dramatism.

Dramatism is a technique of analysis of language and thought as basically modes of action rather than as means of conveying information. Burke created this theory based on the idea that motivations for behavior are imprinted in the language we use and in how we use it.

A major concern of Burke's was motives. Burke wanted to understand the human motives behind the drama that is life.

We start with Burke's definition of Human:

Humans are symbol-using animals, inventors of the negative, separated from natural conditions by instruments of their own making, goaded by a spirit of hierarchy, and rotten with perfection.

PENTAD:

PENTAD is an analytic mode that helps us to determine why (motives) a speaker used certain rhetorical strategies.

Penta-meaning 5, the PENTAD is composed of 5 parts. The 5 parts are: ACT, SCENE, AGENT, AGENCY, and PURPOSE. These 5 parts are a proverbial who what when where and why (and how) deal (not in that order).

ACT: What the agent, or speaker, does; the speech itself. The proverbial "what".

SCENE: Context surrounding the act; the rhetorical situation. The proverbial "where and when".

AGENT: This is the person performing the act; the speaker him or herself. The proverbial "who".

AGENCY: This is the proverbial "how".

PURPOSE: The goal of the agent, or speaker; this is the proverbial "why".

Depending on which parts of the PENTAD are analyzed, it can help us to understand more about the speakers motives. The PENTAD can be analyzed using whats known as the Pentadic Ratio.

PENTADIC RATIO:

The Pentadic Ratio is a ratio, made up of any two pieces of the PENTAD, that shows the dramatic relationship of the speech.

Common pentad ratios:

Scene/Act
Scene/Agent
Act/Agent
Act/Purpose
Agency/Purpose
Agent/Purpose

IDENTIFICATION:

Burke says that human beings are separated by language. Identification is the overlap between the speaker and the audience that helps us to bridge this division. It involves the speaker's ability to connect to the audience and create this common ground to bridge the division. Burke says that wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric, and wherever there is meaning, there is persuasion. There are several ways to create identification.

One way to create identification is through the creation of a common enemy.

Sources

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Appel, Edward C. "Implications and Importance of the Negative in Burke's Dramatistic Philosophy of Language." Communication Quarterly 41 (1993): 51-65.

Appel, Edward C. "The Rhetoric of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Comedy and Context in Tragic Collision." Western Journal of Communication 61 (1997): 376-402.

Baxter, Gerald D., and Pat M. Taylor. "Burke's Theory of Consubstantiality and Whitehead's Concept of Concrescence." Communication Monographs 45 (1978): 173-180.

Biesecker, Barbara A. Addressing Postmodernity: Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, and a Theory of Social Change. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2000.

Birdsell, David S. "Kenneth Burke at the Nexus of Argument and Trope." Argumentation and Advocacy 29 (1993): 178-185.

Birdsell, David S. "Ronald Reagan on Lebanon and Grenada: Flexibility and Interpretation in the Application of Kenneth Burke's Pentad." Quarterly Journal of Speech 73 (1987): 267-279.

Blain, Michael. "The Politics of Victimage: Power and Subjection in a U.S. Anti-Gay Campaign." Critical Discourse Studies 2 (2005): 31-50.

Blankenship, Jane, et al. "The 1980 Republican Primary Debates: The Transformation of Actor to Scene." Quarterly Journal of Speech 69 (1983): 25-36.

Bobbitt, D. A. (2004). The rhetoric of redemption: Kenneth Burke's redemption drama and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I have a Dream Speech. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Bostdorff, Denise M. "Making Light of James Watt: A Burkean Approach to the Form and Attitude of Political Cartoons. Quarterly Journal of Speech 73 (1987): 43-59.

Brock, Bernard L., ed. Kenneth Burke and Contemporary European Thought: Rhetoric in Transition. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1995.

Brock, Bernard L. "Epistemology and Ontology in Kenneth Burke's Dramatism." Communication Quarterly 33.2 (1985): 94-104.

Brummett, Barry. "Burkean Comedy and Tragedy, Illustrated in Reactions to the Arrest of John DeLorean." Central States Speech Journal 35 (1984): 217-227.

Brummett, Barry. "Burkean Scapegoating, Mortification, and Transcendence in Presidential Campaign Rhetoric." Central States Speech Journal 32 (1981): 254-264.

Brummett, Barry. "Burke's Representative Anecdote as a Method in Media Criticism." Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader. Ed. John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. New York, NY : Guilford, 1999. 479-493.

Brummett, Barry. "A Pentadic Analysis of Ideologies in Two Gay Rights Controversies." Central States Speech Journal 30 (1979): 250-261.

Brummett, Barry. "Symbolic Form, Burkean Scapegoating, and Rhetorical Exigency in Alioto's Response to the 'Zebra' Murders." Western Journal of Speech Communication 44 (1980): 64-73.

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Carlson, Cheree A. "You Know It When You See It: The Rhetorical Hierarchy of Race and Gender in Rhinelander v. Rhinelander." Quarterly Journal of Speech 85 (1999): 111-128.

Carmichael, Thomas. "Postmodernism, Symbolicity, and the Rhetoric of the Hyperreal: Kenneth Burke, Fredric Jameson, and Jean Baudrillard." Text and Performance Quarterly 11 (1991): 319-324.

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Coe, Richard M. "Defining Rhetoric—and Us: A Meditation on Burke's Definitions." The Kinneavy Papers: Theory and the Study of Discourse. Ed. Lynn Worsham et al. Albany, NY : State U of New York P, 2000. 353-367.

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Condit, Celester Michelle, and J. Ann Selzer. "The Rhetoric of Objectivity in the Newspaper Coverage of a Murder Trial." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 2 (1985): 197-216.

Conrad, Charles. "Phases, Pentads, and Dramatistic Critical Process." Central States Speech Journal 35 (1984): 94-104.

Cooks, Leda, and Descutner, David. "Different Paths from Powerlessness to Empowerment: A Dramatistic Analysis of Two Eating Disorder Therapies." Western Journal of Communication 57 (1993): 494-514.

Copeland, Gary A., and Dan Slater. "Television, Fantasy and Vicarious Catharsis." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 2 (1985): 352-362.

Corcoran, Farrell. "The Bear in the Back Yard: Myth, Ideology, and Victimage Ritual in Soviet Funerals." Communication Monographs 50 (1983): 305-320.

Crable, Bryan. "Burke's Perspectives on Perspectives: Grounding Dramatism in the Representative Anecdote." Quarterly Journal of Speech 86 (2000): 318-333.

—-. "Ideology as 'Metabiology': Rereading Burke's Permanence and Change." Quarterly Journal of Speech 84 (1998): 303-319.

—-. "Race and A Rhetoric of Motives: Kenneth Burke's Dialogue with Ralph Ellison." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 33 (2003): 5-25.

—-. "Rhetoric, Anxiety and Character Armor: Burke's Interactional Rheoric of Identity 1." Western Journal of Communication 70 (2006): 1-22.

Crafton, Jeffrey A. The Agency of the Apostle: A Dramatistic Analysis of Paul's Responses to Conflict in 2 Corinthians. JSNT Supplement Series 51. Sheffield: JSOT P, 1991.

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Crusius, Timothy W. "Orality in Kenneth Burke's Dialectic." Philosophy & Rhetoric 21/2 (1988): 116-130.

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Edgar, Amanda Nell. "R&B Rhetoric and Victim-Blaming Discourses: Exploring The Popular Press's Revision of Rihanna's Contextual Agency." Women's Studies in Communication 37, 138-158. (2014)

Engnell, Richard A. "Materiality, Symbolicity, and the Rhetoric of Order: 'Dialectical Biologism' as Motive in Burke." Western Journal of Communication 62 (1998): 1-25.

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Ewbank, Henry L. "The Constitution: Burkeian, Brandesian and Borkian Perspectives." Southern Communication Journal 61 (1996): 220-232.

Farrel, Corcoran. "The Bear in the Back Yard: Myth, Ideology, and Victimage Ritual in Soviet Funerals." Communication Monographs 50 (1983): 305-320.

Foss, Karen A. "John Lennon and the Advisory Function of Eulogies." Central States Speech Journal 34 (1983): 187-194.

Gaines, Robert N. "Identification and Redemption in Lysias' Against Eratosthenes." Central States Speech Journal 30 (1979): 199-210.

Genter, Robert. "Toward a Theory of Rhetoric: Ralph Ellison, Kenneth Burke, and the Problem of Modernism." Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 48 (2002: 191-214.

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Gudas, Fabian. "The Vitality of Dramatism." Literature in Performance 3.2 (1983): 1-12.

Gronbeck, Bruce E. "John Morley and the Irish Question: Chart-Prayer-Dream." Speech Monographs 40 (1973): 287-295.

Hahn, Dan F., and Anne Morland. "A Burkean Analysis of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address." Presidential Studies Quarterly 9 (1979): 376-389.

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Hubbard, Bryan. "Reassessing Truman, the Bomb, and Revisionism: The Burlesque Frame and Entelechy in the Decision to Use Atomic Weapons against Japan." Western Journal of Communication 62 (1998): 348-385.

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