Kenneth Burke and the New Critics
- УДК / UDK: 82(091)
- About the author:
M. Elizabeth Weiser (PhD, professor, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
- Abstract: Most scholars of American theorist Kenneth Burke consider him a founder of the post-war New Rhetoric, a movement to shift rhetorical studies from a historic focus on persuasion to a more expansive understanding of language, dialogue, and communally constructed truths. However, Burke throughout the 1930s and 40s thought of himself primarily as a literary critic, albeit one who turned literary critical techniques to the social scene around him. Without his ongoing, often contentious dialogue with the literary scholars of the New Criticism, Burke’s rhetorical theories on the power of language to answer questions of human motivations may well have never materialized. New Criticism and New Rhetoric, therefore, forged each other in the crucible of the mid-century years of depression and war and the intellectual ferment they generated. It was Burke’s attempts to explain himself to these literary critics and exhort them to turn their critical lens to the world around them that provided the methodology for his action-analysis of the socio-political world. In this article I examine three of these contentious relationships—with Allen Tate prior to World War II, with John Crowe Ransom during the war, and with René Wellek following it. Their debates and congruences led Burke to formulate his purposely ambiguous understanding of hierarchies and norms that constitute what he termed the “wrangle” of parliamentary debate— a constitutive rhetoric that continues to drive international relations today.
- Keywords: New Rhetoric, New Criticism, Kenneth Burke, Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, René Wellek, Historiography
Burke, K. “As I Was Saying.” Michigan Quarterly Review 11 (1972): 9–27. Burke, K. Counter-Statement (1931). 3rd rev. ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1968.
Burke, K. A Grammar of Motives, New York: Prentice-Hall (1945); Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.
Burke, K. “On Poetry and Poetics.” Review of The World's Body, by John Crowe Ransom. Poetry 55 (1939): 51–54.
Burke, K. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press (1941); 3rd rev. ed., Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1973.
Burke, K. “The Problem of the Intrinsic (as Reflected in the Neo-Aristotelian School).” Accent 3: 80–94.
Burke, K. “Questions for Critics.” Direction 2 (1939): 12–13.
Burke, K. “Semantic and Poetic Meaning.” Southern Review 4 (1939): 501–23.
Burke, K. “The Study of Symbolic Action.” Chimera 1:1 (1942): 7–16.
Burke, K. “Symbolic War.” Rev. of Proletarian Literature in the United States, ed. Granville Hicks. Southern Review 2 (1936): 134–47.
Burke, K. “The Tactics of Motivation.” Chimera 2:1 (1943): 37–53.
Burke, K. “Tentative Proposal.” Rev. of The Mediterranean, and Other Poems and Reactionary Essays on Poetry and Ideas, by Allen Tate. Poetry 50 (1937): 96–100.
Denning, M. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Verso, 1996.
Empson, W. Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930). New York: New Directions, 1966.
George, A. Kenneth Burke’s Permanence and Change. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2018.
George, A., Selzer, J. Kenneth Burke in the 1930s. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2007.
Habermas, J. The Divided West, ed. and trans. Ciaran Cronin. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2005.
Hicks, G. Granville Hicks in The New Masses, ed. Jack Alan Robbins. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat, 1974.
Josephson, M. Life among the Surrealists. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962.
Knickerbocker, W. "Wam for Maw." Rev. of The Philosophy of Literary Form, by K. Burke, and The New Criticism, by J.C. Ransom. Sewanee Review 44 (1941): 520–36.
“New England Meeting.” CEA Critic 11:6 (1949): 6–7.
Pells, R. The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age: American Intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1989.
Ransom, J.C. “An Address to Kenneth Burke.” Rev. of The Philosophy of Literary Form, by Kenneth Burke. Kenyon Review 4 (1942): 219–37.
Ransom, J.C. Selected Letters of John Crowe Ransom, ed. Thomas Daniel Young and George Core. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.
Ransom, J.C. The World's Body. New York: Scribner, 1938.
Said, E. The World, the Text, and the Critic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983.
Shapiro, E.S. “Forward: A Forgotten American Classic.” Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence, ed. Herbert Agar and Allen Tate (1936). Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 1999.
Tate, A. Collected Essays. Denver, CO: Swallow, 1959.
Tate, A. “Mr. Burke and the Historical Environment.” Southern Review 3 (1936): 363–72.
Tate, A. “Poetry and Politics.” New Republic (2 August 1933): 308–11.
Tell, D. “Burke’s Encounter with Ransom: Rhetoric and Epistemology in ‘Four Master Tropes’.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 34:4 (2004): 33–54.
Warren, R.P. “Pure and Impure Poetry.” The New Criticism and Contemporary Literary Theory: Connections and Continuities, eds. W. Spurlin and M. Fischer. New York: Garland, 1995: 19–44.
Weiser, M.E. “‘As Usual I Fell on the Bias’: Kenneth Burke’s Situated Dialectic.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 42:2 (2009): 134–153.
Weiser, M.E. Burke, War, Words: Rhetoricizing Dramatism. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2008.
Wellek, R. “Kenneth Burke and Literary Criticism.” Sewanee Review 79 (1971): 171–188.
Wellek, R. “Literary History.” Literary Scholarship: Its Aims and Methods, ed. Norman Foerster. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1941: 89–130.
Wellek, R. “The Main Trends of Twentieth-Century Criticism.” Yale Review 51:1 (1961): 102–18.
Wellek, R. “The Mode of Existence of a Literary Work of Art.” Southern Review 7 (1942): 735–54.
Wess, R. Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric, Subjectivity, Postmodernism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Wess, R. “Situating Burke’s Thought.” Conversations. KB Journal 1:1 (2005). Online at https://kbjournal.org/node/79