Seminar: Kenneth Burke

Study Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction to Course

Weeks 2-3: In the Beginning: Burke, his friends, his times


Focus during these weeks is on the life in New York as Burke begins his career. What kinds of influences shape him? What did he take from those around him? What kinds of exigencies was he responding to?

Week 4: Developing a program toward art


In this book Burke is explaining how he views art. In doing so, he is putting himself into dialogue with the people you have been reading about and others of their day. Among the questions to answer:

Week 5-7: Language as Equipment for Living


Burke is moving during the period of these writings away from more purely literary problems to being a social critic. This is the time of the Great Depression and the growing struggle over whether the future of American democracy is with capitalism or communism.

Weeks 8-10: Systematizing Method


During this period, Burke has decided that he wants to move beyond involvement in his time to lay out a lasting legacy that transcends a particular time. This turns him to trying to think through his method and toward developing something more theoretical.

Week 11-13: Your interests

Reading: Your selections.