2008 Conference of the Kenneth Burke Society

Download the conference flyerThe Seventh Triennial Conference of the Kenneth Burke Society welcomes proposals for papers and panels on any Burkean subject. Especially welcome are proposals that address the conference theme: “Kenneth Burke: Transcendence by Perspective.” The conference will take place from June 29-July 1, 2008, at Villanova University, just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Deadline for submissions is February 1, 2008. View the conference flyer.

About the Conference Theme

One of the hallmarks of Kenneth Burke’s work is a deep-rooted suspicion of entrenched antagonism, of the bitterly contested either/or. Confronting a Western tradition mired in dualisms, and a social world fractured along binaristic lines, Burke traced these all-too-common symptoms to their source in the human symbolic condition and, not content simply with this diagnosis, he also sought a cure: the disciplined cultivation of transcendence via “ultimate” terms (A Rhetoric of Motives 186-89). As Burke writes in Attitudes Toward History, “When approached from a certain point of view, A and B are ‘opposites.’ We mean by ‘transcendence’ the adoption of another point of view from which they cease to be opposites” (336). Although inspired in part by his reading of Plato, Burke’s vision of transcendence avoids the pitfalls of the transcendental, but instead is grounded solidly in the necessity of our embodied symbolicity. In Burke’s skilled hands, transcendence becomes not the elimination of perspective, of partisanship, but the embrace of transcendence by perspective—because only by rigorously acknowledging the symbolic nature of perspective can we move beyond the stagnant stalemate of reified social, political, and philosophical binaries.

This theme calls on conference participants to explore the relevance of Burkean thought for the transcendence of conflicts, whether enduring (as in the American “racial divide”) or ephemeral (as in the humanitarian crises of today). Over the course of the convention, a combination of keynote speakers, featured presenters, and seminar leaders will engage in their various incarnations the pressures of symbolicity, the multiple dimensions of perspective, and the possibilities of transcendence.

Featuring diverse opportunities for engagement with Burke’s enduring relevance, the seventh triennial expects to continue the interdisciplinary tradition of past triennials, with participation by scholars from communication, rhetoric, literary theory, sociology, American studies, critical/cultural studies, and theology (among other fields).Most triennials have produced books of conference proceedings and all have promoted work by their participants leading to important articles and books on Burkean subjects.

About the Conference

A number of prominent Burke scholars will participate in the conference as speakers and seminar leaders. Detailed information about their work is available at the conference website. The keynoters will be Joseph R. Gusfield and John S. Wright. Featured speakers will include A. Cheree Carlson, Michael Hyde, and Robert Perinbanayagam. Seminar leaders with their topics include Ann George (Burke in the 1930s), Scott Newstok (Burke and Shakespeare), Mari Boor Tonn (Burke and Feminism), and Robert Wess (Transcendence by Perspective).

Visit the conference website (http://communication.villanova.edu/burke/index.htm) for information about nominations for Kenneth Burke Society awards for Lifetime Achievement, Distinguished Service, and Emerging Scholar.

It's expected that this conference, like previous ones, will feature an enjoyable evening with the Burke family, including a reading by Julie Whitaker from her recent collection of Burke's later poetry (Late Poems, 1968-1993, co-edited with David Blakesley).

Finally, a special feature of this conference will be an event celebrating the lives and works of three much-missed members of the Kenneth Burke Society: Bernard Brock, Leland Griffin, and William Rueckert.

Proposals for paper and panels

While always encouraging submissions focused around the conference theme, we also welcome work by faculty as well as students on any subject related to Burkean scholarship. Please identify student proposals as such, indicating school, area of major study, level (graduate or undergraduate). Proposal should be 250-350 words in length (for panels, include 250-350 words for each paper). Submit proposal electronically, as either PDF or MS Word document, to george.boone@villanova.edu, with the words “Submission to Burke Conference” on the subject line of the e-mail.

Deadline for proposals: February 1, 2008. Selections for the conference will be announced April 1, 2008.

The length of completed papers should be appropriate for a 15-20 minute presentation. Completed papers submitted by May 1, 2008 will be eligible for awards, one for the best conference paper, the other for the best graduate student paper. In addition, up to two meritorious undergraduate papers will receive conference grants (travel, housing, conference registration) from Graduate Programs in Communication at Villanova.

About the Conference Location

All events and programs for the convention will be held at the Villanova University Conference Center, located just off of its main campus. The combination historic mansion and contemporary conference facility will allow participants to enjoy a peaceful, bucolic setting, without having to stray far from the day’s meeting and banquet rooms. Conference participants will have three options for housing: the Conference Center itself, the nearby Radnor Hotel, or air-conditioned campus apartments—this last option especially helpful for budget-conscious Burkeans. Details on housing prices and reservations will be posted by January, 2008. Please note: transportation will be provided at no additional cost for all those staying at the Radnor Hotel and campus apartments.

For additional information on paper submission, registration, housing, and other matters, consult the conference website (http://communication.villanova.edu/burke/index.htm) or direct questions to George Boone, Assistant to the Conference Planner (george.boone@villanova.edu), or to Bryan Crable, Conference Planner (bryan.crable@villanova.edu).

US Mail should be directed to Communication Department, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA 19085-1699, USA.

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