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Conference Call: Rhetoric in Europe

From the attached CFP:

"Since antiquity, rhetoric has reigned as one of the great European traditions in education. Currently, as the importance of media of all kind is growing in daily communication, rhetoric is prevailing as an educational topic. The importance of intercultural communication is growing internationally as well as domestically, economically, and politically. Often political changes (from war, refugees, work migration, economical pressure, etc.) impact the crisis that the education system aggravates, (especially in the primary and secondary area), and this not since PISA. The worlds of work, along with public and everyday life, are altered since political (1989/1990), cultural (1968 and again 1989/90), and economical changes are not initiated, but accelerated by the globalization. Even this raw draft shows that schools, universities and adult education have important tasks and responsibilities in the formation of qualified teachers, university professors, and adult educators as well as in the research that is the basis for these formations. Because communication is the central category of the intercultural, medial, interpersonal problem, rhetoric is needed urgently in the mediation of “communication competence”, since media rhetoric, economical rhetoric, intercultural rhetoric, political rhetoric, and forensic rhetoric can advance the sectoral rhetorics at will."

Papers due January 15, 2013.

Editorial for Spring 2010

By Andy King

During the past three months manuscripts from England, Wales, Germany, and China have been submitted to the KB Journal. One reviewer experiencing vertigo and world weariness from the vast influx asked if Burke, that former disciple of the regionalist Van Wyck Brooks, would have approved this journal “going international.” I answered that he would have enjoyed it immensely. In the last decades of his life, Burke loved his growing fame. Had his work been eagerly read by giant sloth worms on Neptune or even horribly misconstrued by methane-breathing fire birds on the sun-blistered surface of Mercury, Burke would have been delighted. He would have been eager to engage their counter-statements.

first transcendent ramble, perhaps

in trying to figure how the theme of the upcoming burke conference at villanova plays out--the theme of transcendence as burke wielded the de-termination (stole that from burke's rhetoric)--i am thinking that burke's is a wordplay that appropriates the evocative in order to show that, really, nothing could be more natural. it would appear that transcendence in this burkean application / appropriation is as ubiquitous/ universal as rhetoric or persuasion or identification. to be alive is to be "rhetorically" adapted to the life forces and discourses everywhere around and within.

2007 Updates Berlin

So, building now towards the Spring 2007, Haupseminar Course at the JFK, Berlin...introducing some KB principles early on as they apply to the beginnings of US media (radio, tv and film):

George Clooney’s “Good Night and Good Luck” (2005) takes its significant and timely place in a Hollywood genre lineage that, since the 1970s, has assumed to represent the development of U.S. television.

The film’s critical and commercial success - as topped by 2006 Oscar recognitions - confirm how relevant these issues remain for present-day audiences.

This course places “Good Night and Good Luck” in a deep historical context by focusing critically on former Hollywood films that, from the 1970s to the 1990s, also assumed to represent the working practices of U.S. broadcast news, cable news media and Reality TV.

The spine of the course will therefore explore how ten corporate intertextualities - from Network (20th Century Fox, 1976) to The Insider (Touchstone, 1999) - reflected public disquiet about media ownership, gender representation, corporate mergers, free speech, new technologies, war coverage, and even the influential powers of market journalism itself. The rhetorics of such texts are considerd in a uniquely Burkian perspective.

In addition, our study will be enriched by contextual histories, which, since the 1920s, consider relevant legal, institutional and political interventions in the early development of the U.S. public media. This will lead to a Case Study analysis of cable news coverage post 9/11.

The course is an update of a book publication by the Course Leader which itself became the focus of intense public and on-air debate during 2005 General Elections in Eastern Europe.

5 millioneth attempt at blogging

By dmarado on

So, this is kind of cool. You join the KB site and get a blog space. Not bad. Anyway, I wrote the review of the Killingsworth article and it was posted (hooray me!). I'm wondering if anyone will read this blogeration attempt. Scene: internet/faculty breakroom at Miami University. Agent: Moi.
Act: Yet another attempt to make a blog.
Agency: I act through the interface, I guess. I'm not postive about this one. Maybe an imminent scholar will help me out. How do I act? I act by putting words into a space that I both hope many will view and enjoy and that no one will view and thus will have no evidence by which to incriminate me.

Connecting Burke with notebooks and articles

Some more thoughts that I hope will bring me a step closer to this paper ...

I should have my notes with me as I write this. I don't--they're at home. But perhaps this is better. Writing without them may prompt a thought I didn't have as I was writing them.

When we compare Pasteur's laboratory notebooks with his published work, I believe the pattern is clear. It's not original--Gerald Geison makes the point firmly--but its application to rhetoric, and specifically to Burke's view of science and rhetoric, should be. I don't know yet whether I should limit myself to Pasteur. Research on Lavoisier leads to a similar conclusion, although I'm not sure Lavoisier had quite the rhetorical talents Pasteur did. In any case, it's absolutely clear that when we read a journal article, we're not getting an unbiased description of "the real world out there"; what we see is filtered through the scientist's rhetorical choices.

Public perception and the rhetoric of science

What follows is some casual writing intended to get my thoughts going, in the hopes that something here will lead to a paper.


Scientists make certain rhetorical choices as they write about science. How do these choices influence the way the general public views science and scientists?

By saying they make rhetorical choices, I am implying that their writing is at least partly persuasive, not purely informative. Scientific journals contain writing that is self-consciously "antirhetorical"--that is, it avoids rhetorical devices that could lead to an appearance of bias.

Re-entering the Parlor: Kenneth Burke as Pointillist

I originally wrote this for the Kenneth Burke mailing list. I put it here so I'll have a convenient place for storing my writing on KB.


One of the classrooms where I teach has a lovely bookcase. It is lovely not for its construction--I've seen better-made bookcases at Wal-Mart--but for its contents. Several rhetoric books grace these shelves, including A Rhetoric of Motives.

Burke, Pasteur, and the rhetoric of science

I've been reading a book called The Private Science of Louis Pasteur, written by Gerald Geison, a Princeton history professor. In spite of my sister's recommendation, I didn't actually intend to read it when I first picked it up. But then I saw one of the section titles: "Laboratory Notebooks, Scientific Fraud, and the Rhetorical Construction of Scientific Knowledge." Geison uses Mikhail Bakhtin's ideas on "inner speech" to shed light on scientific disclosure.

Drama of a Technological Society

Let me start with a few general comments on this essay and maybe get into more detail in a later post.

Mike Hubler's piece on the intersection between Jacques Ellul and KB on technology is brilliant. It rewards a careful reading. I highly recommend it.

One thing Hubler emphasizes that stood out for me is the ambiguity inherent in the agent-agency "inversion" he speaks of, the way in which technology, construed as "obviously" an agency in our gadget-overloaded world, is, it seems, in the saddle and riding humankind at an incredible gallop; and yet, at the same time, the fluidity of the pentadic terms and concepts can just as easily render "technique" as agent in a straight agent-agency correspondence, with the symbol-using/misusing animal as the tool of his or her machanized creations. Hubler makes the ambiguity clear, with supportive references to passages in Burke. In fact, he employs Burke's own descriptions to nicely justify that kind of agent-agency construction, with the machine as autonomous slave-driver and pentadically named as such. His central use of Burke's dramatism as a way of more explicity rhetoricizing Ellul's half-century-old critique of our modern infatuation with the machine is thus appropriately nuanced and pellucidly parsed.