Theorist Review

Topics: Rhetoric, Kenneth Burke, Regulatory Focus Theory Pages: 3 (971 words) Published: September 13, 2013
David Campbell
MMAJ 525

Historical Review of Theorist

Since the beginning of time people have been communicating in some way. Whether it was through smoke signals or email, as time changes so does the way we interact with those around us. Many people have tried to understand this complex form of interaction known as communication, but none more prominent then Kenneth Burke and his study of rhetoric.


Kenneth Burke was fascinated with language and how it shaped the world around us. Burke believed that “the use of words by human agents to form attitude or to induce action other human agents was known as rhetoric” (1966). According to Burke rhetoric takes place in every conversation or any successful research paper. In his theory Burke goes on to say that our reality is viewed and experienced through a screen of symbols Known as our terministic screen(1966). Burke describes this screen as a set of symbols that we use to perceive the world around us. For example snow does not have the same meaning to someone in Africa as it does to someone in Clarion. These screens in which we view the world around us are affected by many different variables in our life. Everything from our education, gender, socio-economic status, even our geographic location plays a part in how we interpret these symbols. And as we go through life these screens change as we experience different things changing our view of the world around us.

Language also plays a major part in the symbols we use humans. Language is one set of symbols that creates meaning for us as individuals and also is the means that we use to communicate to others across the sea of symbols that surrounds all of us(1966). According to Burke all rhetoric is persuasive. Anytime we engage in communication with someone or something we always have some underlying purpose wether we are aware of it or not(1966). This theory not only pertains to verbal but nonverbal...

Cited: Bitzer, L. & Black, E. (1971). The Prospect of Rhetoric: Report of the National
Available: [2012, 26 September] (2004)
Lyons,R (1993). “Kenneth Burke, Philosopher, 96, And New Criticism Founder, Dies.” The New York Times, Sunday, Late Edition. 2004.
Prominent Writings
Burke,K(1945). A Grammar of Motives, New York: Prentice- Hall.
Burke,K(1950). A rhetoric of Motives, New York: Prentice- Hall.
Burke, K(1972).Dramatism and Development. Worcester, MA: Clark UP.
Burke,K (1966) Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Burke,K (1978). (Nonsymbolic) Motion/(Symbolic) Action. ' Critical Inquiry: 809-38.
Burke, K (1957) The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action
Burke, K (1939). The Rhetoric of Hitler 's 'Battle. ' The Southern Review 5
Burke, K (1961) The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology
Burke, K (1973) The Rhetorical Situation. Communication: Ethical and Moral Issues. Ed. Lee Thayer. New York: Gordon and Breach Science. 263-75.
Burke, K(1942). The Study of Symbolic Action. Chimera 1 (Spring 1942): 7-16
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