Preparation Guide 2014
Week 3-5: Symbolic Motivation
A cluster of theorists have developed approaches around the power of rhetorical form to motivate action. They view discourse as far more than just re-presenting materiality; they believe that the human power to use symbols changes action in fundamental ways. Thus, rhetoric becomes a study of how symbols organize human understanding, sociality, and action. Burke is the first and the primary theorist in this cluster,
but the others are important to know. Several moves that these theories
have in common define the cluster:
- Rhetorical form. They punctuate accounts of rhetorical transactions
with the help of rhetorical form. This constructs coherence in rhetoric
around patterns in discourse rather than around the rhetor. Thus, they
study the clustering of language forms in a culture.
- Symbolic action. These theories primarily locate rhetoric in
directing the flow of social action rather than the initiation of action
or theories of knowledge. Consequently motivation is a central concern.
In the heyday of behaviorism, motivation had been understood as located
in biological drives and had been punctuated as an account of the initiation
of behavior. A sociological school -- the symbolic interactionists -- offered
an alternative. They began by rejecting the completeness of the biologically
based theory, arguing that humans had essentially identical biology yet
in any given situation humans react many different ways. Then, they asserted
a methodological point: the most interesting questions of human motivation
are to be answered not with an account of the initiation of action but
with an explanation of the variety of human action.
- Culture-creating power of language. In these theories, motivational
patterns are tied to cultures rather than to biological individuals or
the species in general.
On these three linchpins developed a theory of human motivation as symbolic.
Because symbols were given a central place in motivation, the methodological
moves of the symbolic interactionists had opened the opportunity to study the
clustering of rhetoric in forms, and the practical accomplishment of rhetoric
as an invoking of these forms to influence human action.
Expanding upon Burke's theory, scholars have taken the study of symbolic motivation in several directions.
To Bormann, it is within this symbolic realm that we construct fantasy themes
to give our action meaning. To Fisher, it is where we develop stories to convey
our motives within the criteria of narrative rationality. To McGee, it is where
our ideological history converges with the synchronic construction of ideographic
justification in the present. Conversing with these theorists in the years since,
dramatistic scholars have applied the framework of dramatism to questions of
ethics, the potential for strengthened human cooperation, the appropriate anecdotes
for critical analysis, and the limitations of dramatism's grounding in a decisively
Western view of drama.
Clusters: Dramatism; Logology; Fantasy Theme Analysis;
Ideograph; Narrative; Dramaturgy.
Instructions on preparing for the discussion:
Since “theorizing” is an active process, we will examine the boundaries of symbolic motivation together during seminar. Our discussion we be structured as follows:
- Foundational Theories and Basic Works (Burke, Bormann, Fisher, McGee, Vasquez)
- Prepare clusters of terms that these theorists employ.
- Define the theories and terms. Do the definitions of key terms overlap?
- Are there considerable linkages between the terms in the theories?
- Consider the purpose of the theory. What were the theories in response to? (Other theories? Political or social realities?)
- What questions were the authors trying to answer? What questions might the theories answer? Is there a difference?
- What is the scope of the theory?
- How are the approaches to theory making similar? Different? To what extent are the theories extensions of each other?
- Extensions of Theory (Clair et al., Brock, Condit, and Cheseboro, and Hawhee)
- What does the theorist propose to do with the original theory?
- Where do these extensions/contractions ground their contribution?
- How are the terms expanded or contracted?
- Do they work top-down or bottom up?
- Theorizing Together
- What sorts of scenarios or realities aren’t covered by these theories? Is that problematic?
- Where is there room to extend theory? Do you think there are areas where these theories might be extended too far?
- What makes a theory (or extension of theory) appealing? Why do we see some theories cited repeatedly, while others die out? How can we avoid this breaking of the chain with our theories? Can you actively avoid theoretical extinction?
- Do new mediums and digital realities change the way we think about theory? Do they need new theories to cope with them?
Basic Readings: (Access journal articles electronically through Communication
and Mass Media Complete (CMMC) or J-Stor)
- Dewey, John. Human Nature and Conduct. 1922; New York: Modern
Library, 1930. 112-14.
- Mills, C. Wright. "Situated Actions and Vocabularies of Motives."
American Sociological Review 5 (October 1940): 904-13. (J-Stor)
- Burke, Kenneth. On Symbols and Society. Ed. Joseph Gusfield.
Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1989.
- Bormann, Ernest G. "Fantasy and Rhetorical Vision: The Rhetorical
Criticism of Social Reality." Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (December
1972): 396-407. (CMMC)
- * McGee, Michael C. "The 'Ideograph': A Link Between Rhetoric and
Ideology." Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (February 1980): 1-16. (CMMC)
- * Fisher, Walter. "Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm:
The Case of Public Moral Argument." Communication Monographs 51
(March 1984): 1-22. (CMMC)
- Brock, Bernard L. Kenneth Burke and Contemporary European Thought. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama,1995.
- Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. (New
York: Doubleday, 1959).
Some Additional Reading:
- Anderson, Dana. Identity's Strategy: Rhetorical Selves in Conversion.
(Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2007).
- Booth, Wayne C. "Kenneth Burke's Religious Rhetoric: 'God-Terms' and
the Ontological Proof." In Rhetorical Invention and Religious Inquiry:
New Perspectives. Walter Jost and Wendy Olmsted, ed. (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2000). 25-45.
- Brock, Bernard L. "Rhetorical Criticism: A Burkeian Approach Revisited."
In Methods of Rhetorical Criticism: A Twenthieth-Century Perspective
3rd Edition, Revised (Detroit: Wayne State U Press, 1990) 183-195.
- Brock, Bernard L. Kenneth Burke, Parke G. Burgess, and Herbert W.
Simons. "Dramatism as Ontology or Epistemology: A Symposium," Communication
Quarterly 33 (1985): 17-33.
- Burke, Kenneth. . (Nonsymbolic) motion/ (symbolic) action. Critical
Inquiry, 4 (1978): 809-38. (J-Stor)
- Condit, Celeste Michelle. "Post Burke: Transcending the Sub-Stance
of Dramatism." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78.3 (1992):349-355.
- Conrad, Charles, and Elizabeth A. Macom. "Re-Visiting Kenneth Burke:
Dramatism/Logology and the Problem of Agency." Southern Communication
Journal 61 (Fall 1995): 11-28.
- Crable, Bryan. "Burke's Perspective on Perspectives: Grounding
Dramatism in the Representative Anecdote." Quarterly Journal of Speech
86 (August 2000): 318-33.
- Crable, Bryan. "Symbolizing Motion: Burke's Dialectic and Rhetoric
of the Body." Rhetoric Review ; 22 (2003): 121.
- Crusius, Timothy W. Kenneth Burke and the Conversation after Philosophy.
(Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999).
- Edelman, Murray. Constructing the Political Spectacle. Chicago: U
of Chicago P, 1988.
- Engels, Jeremy. "The Politics of Resentment and the Tyranny of the Minority: Rethinking Victimage for Resentful Times." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 40 (2010): 303-325.
- * Forum. Brock, Bernard. "Limits of the Burkean System." Quarterly
Journal of Speech 78 (August 1992): 347-48; Celeste Michelle Condit. "Post-Burke:
Transcending the Sub-stance of Dramatism.: Quarterly Journal of Speech
78 (August 1992): 349-55; James W. Chesebro. "Extensions of the Burkean
System." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (August 1992): 356-68.
- Also, Response: Phillip K. Tompkins and George Cheney. Quarterly Journal of Speech
79 (May 1993): 225-31. Rejoinder: Celeste Condit; James W. Chesebro. Quarterly
Journal of Speech 80 (February 1994): 77-90.
- George, Ann, and Jack Selzer. Kenneth Burke in the 1930s. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, 2007
- Hawhee, Debra. "Language as Sensuous Action: Sir Richard Paget, Kenneth
Burke, and Gesture-Speech Theory." Quarterly Journal of Speech
92, no. 4 (November 2006): 331-54.
- Hawhee, Debra. Moving Bodies: Kenneth Burke at the Edges of Language.
(Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2009).
- King, Andrew. "Burkean Theory Reborn: How Burkean Studies Assimilated
Its Postmodern Critics." Rhetoric Review 20 (2001): 32-37.
- Klumpp, James F. "A Rapprochement Between Dramatism and Argumentation."
Argumentation and Advocacy. 29 (1993): 148-64.
- Klumpp, James F. "'Dancing With Tears in My Eyes': Celebrating the
Life and Work of Kenneth Burke." Southern Communication Journal
61 (Fall 1995): 1-10.
- Lentricchia, Frank. Criticism and Social Change. (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1983).
- Maddux, Kristy. "Finding Comedy in Theology: A Hopeful Supplement to
Kenneth Burke's Logology." Philosophy & Rhetoric 39, no. 3
- Selzer, Jack. Kenneth Burke in Greenwich Village: Conversing with the
Moderns, 1915-1931. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1996.
- Smudde, Peter M., ed. Humanistic Critique of Education: Teaching and Learning as Symbolic Action. West Lafayette, IN.: Parlor Press, 2010.
- Stob, Paul. "Kenneth Burke, John Dewey, and the Pursuit of
the Public." Philosophy and Rhetoric 38 (2005): 226-47.
- * Vazquez, Gabriel M. "A Homo Narrans Paradigm for Public Relations: Combining Bormann's Symbolic Convergence Theory and Grunig's Situational Theory of Publics." Journal Of Public Relations Research 5, no. 3 (July 1993): 201-216. (CMMC)
- Warnick, Barbara. "The Narrative Paradigm: Another Story." Quarterly
Journal of Speech 73, no. 2 (May 1987): 172-82.
- Weiser, Elizabeth M. Burke, War, and Words: Rhetoricizing Dramatism. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, 2008.
- Williams, Charles E. "Fantasy Theme Analysis: Theory vs. Practice."
Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 17.1 (1987): 11-20.
- Zappen, James P. . "Kenneth Burke on Dialectical-Rhetorical Transcendence,"
Philosophy and Rhetoric 42 (2009): 279-301.
Recent Work (compiled by Jaclyn Bruner and Devin Scott):
- Anderson, Dana, and Jessica Enoch, Eds. Burke in the Archives: Using the Past to Transform the Future of Burkean Studies. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, 2013.
- Belk, John. "Snapshots of Identification: Kenneth Burke’s Engagements with T.S. Eliot." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 44, no. 4 (2014): 363-82.
- Bowie, Anneli and Duncan Reyburn. “Expanding the Terministic Screen: A Burkean Critique of Informational Visualization in the Context of Design Education.” KBJournal 10 (2014): n.p. Accessed September 22, 2014. http://kbjournal.org/bowie_reyburn_visualization.
- Burke, Kenneth. Equipment for Living: The Literary Reviews of Kenneth Burke. Edited by Nathaniel A. Rivers and Ryan P. Weber. West Lafayette, Indiana Parlor Press, 2010.
- Butterworth, Micheal L. “The Passion of the Tebow: Sports Media and Heroic Language in the Tragic Frame.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 30(2013): 17-33.
- Callahan, Clark, and Quint Randle. “Assuaging Death and Assigning Blame: A Lyric Analysis of Mormon Murder Ballads.” Journal Of Media & Religion 12 (2013): 38-53.
- * Clair, Robin P., Stephanie Carlo, Chervin Lam, John Nussman, Canek Phillips, Virginia Sanchez, Elaine Schnabel, and Liliya Yakova. “Narrative Theory and Criticism: An Overview Toward Clusters and Empathy,” Review of Communication 14(2014): 1-18. (CMMC)
- Coupe, Lawrence. Kenneth Burke: From Myth to Ecology. West Lafayette, Indiana Parlor Press, 2013.
- Crick, Nathan. Rhetoric and Power: The Drama of Classical Greece. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, 2014.
- Estava Davis, Jennifer K. “Lope de Aguirre, the Tyrant, and the Prince: Convergence and Divergence in Postcolonial Collective Memory.” Journal Of International & Intercultural Communication 5 (2012): 291-308.
- Gershberg, Zac. “Existentialist Literature in the Burkean Parlor: Exploring the Contingencies and Tensions of Symbolic Action,” KBJournal 7(2010): n.p. Accessed September 22, 2014. http://www.kbjournal.org/Gershberg2.
- Gruber, David. "The (Digital) Majesty of All Under Heaven: Affective Constitutive Rhetoric at the Hong Kong Museum of History’s Multi-Media Exhibition of Terracotta Warriors." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 44(2014): 363-82.
- Hamam, Marco. “‘If One Language Is Not Enough to Convince You, I Will Use Two’: Burkean Identification/Dissociation As a Key to Interpret Code-Switching.” KBJournal 10 (2014): n.p. Accessed September 22, 2014. http://kbjournal.org/haman.
- Hamilton, Heidi. “Can You Be Patriotic and Oppose the War? Arguments to Co-opt and Refute the Ideograph of Patriotism.” Controversia 8(2012): 13-35.
- * Hawhee, Debra. “Historiography By Incongruity.” Burke in the Archives: Using the Past to Transform the Future of Burkean Studies. Edited by Dana Anderson and Jessica Enoch. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, 2013.
- Hobart, Melissa. “My Best Friend's Brother's Cousin Knew This Guy Who … : Hoaxes, Legends, Warnings, and Fisher's Narrative Paradigm.” Communication Teacher 27 (2013): 90-93.
- Jackson, Brian, and Gregory Clark, Eds. Trained Capacities: John Dewey, Rhetoric, and Democratic Practice. Edited by Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, 2014.
- Kraemer, Don J. “Between Motion and Action: The Dialectical Role of Affective Identification in Kenneth Burke,” Advances in the History of Rhetoric 16(2013): 141-64.
- Milford, Mike. “The Olympics, Jesse Owens, Burke, and the Implications of Media Framing in Symbolic Boasting,” Mass Communication & Society 15(2012): 485-505.
- Milford, Mike. “The Rhetorical Evolution of the Alamo.” Communication Quarterly 61(2013): 113-30.
- Oldenburg, Christopher. “Redemptive Resistance through Hybrid Victimage: Catholic Guilt, Mortification, and Transvaluation in the Case of the Milwaukee Fourteen.” KBJournal 9 (2013): n.p. Accessed September 22, 2014. http://www.kbjournal.org/oldenburg.
- Seltzer, Jack, and Robert Wess, Eds. Kenneth Burke and His Circles. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008.
- Shaorong, Huang. “To Stay or Not to Stay, That's Politics: Chinese Netizens' Rhetorical Vision on Google's Leaving China.” China Media Research 8 (2012): 40-47.
- Smolarski, Pierre. “Urban Motives - Rhetorical Approaches to Spatial Orientation, Burke on Lynch’s ‘The Image of the City.’” KBJournal 10 (2014): n.p. Accessed September 22, 2014. http://kbjournal.org/smolarski_urban_motives.
- Thompson, Jason. “Magic for People Trained in Pragmatism: Kenneth Burke, Mein Kampf, and the Early 9/11 Oratory of George W. Bush,” Rhetoric Review 30(2011): 350-371.
- Crable, Bryan, Ed. Transcendance by Perspective: Meditations on and with Kenneth Burke. West Lafayette, Indiana: Parlor Press, 2014.
- Veach, Grace. “Divination and Mysticism as Rhetoric in the Choral Space,” KBJournal 8(2012).
- Underation, Chris. “Seeding the Vision: Symbolic Convergence Theory and Aimee Semple McPherson.” Atlantic Journal Of Communication 20 (2012): 274-289.
- Underwood, Gretchen K. G., “From Form to Function: In Defense of an Internal Use of the Pentad,” KBJournal 7(2011).
Return to the COMM 652 Home Page