Rhetoric in Contemporary Theory (Post-1800)

R770 — Fall 2019

Dana Anderson
Days and Times
4:00 - 5:15p TR (4 CR)
Course Description

*AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED: English department graduate students and minors please email bhankins@indiana.edu. All other students please contact the instructor first for permission.

TOPIC: Language, Literature, and Life in Terms of Burke

Kenneth Burke holds an odd status in the study of language, particularly in the areas of rhetoric, literature, and sociology, where his work remains most influential. His writings never quite square with disciplinary metrics of propriety—whether in approach, in object of study, in tone, or, quite frequently, in all three. Burke was keenly aware of this fact, and while it often frustrated his ambition to be understood, it just as often delighted him.

The rich and challenging inheritance that Burke left for us retains its progenitor’s polarities. His appreciations of human symbolicity are at once declamatory and whimsical, assuaging and provocative, rarefying and muddling. The aim of this course will dither appropriately, appraising the inscrutable dynamism of his thinking while also striving to make it do real work in the hard-scrabble here-and-now of life, particularly where that life meets language. Our approach will be terminal: we will trace ideas and concepts in order to find their ends in our individual projects with words. We will read widely enough so that a more strategic targeting then becomes possible. And we will, at every turn, insist on bringing our idiosyncratic commitments and speculations into conversation with/through Burke’s terms and with/through our own. We will complete a variety of tasks toward creating article-length inquiries that bear the impress of our studies while we simultaneously craft an experiential symbolic togetherness without precedent, parallel, or peer.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

See complete course details