A term introduced by Kenneth Burke, used for analyzing how rhetoric works. Similar to master narratives. An example given by Aune is that political discourse commonly relies on the “rebirth” narrative of Christianity: “major ideological shifts in a mass audience appear to require a new narrative of a nation’s progress or decline, identifying key heroes and villains as well as a new savior to bring about complete rebirth” (99).
Kenneth Burke is a Modernist who introduced ideas of drama into the rhetorical tradition. Specifically, he noted that all rhetorical interactions rely on the interplay of Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose, which became known as the Dramatistic Pentad (Aune 99). Burke was rejected by his contemporaries because New Criticism was the leading literary theory, and his ideas about rhetoric did not align with the idea of a text being separated from its author. According to Aune, Burke “enlarge[d] the scope of rhetoric from its classical conception,” such as including the idea if implicit identification. The example given in Aune shows that this may closely align the symbolism, such as the president being viewed as a father figure (Aunt 98).
Immanual Kant’s ideas might be seen as the inception of contemporary understandings of rhetoric. Aune details three rhetorical schools of thought that each react to Kant’s rejection of rhetoric. For Kant, rhetoric was persuasion, and persuasion was bad because it it could be seen as “an effort to subvert autonomy” (Aune 85). Kant’s definition of freedom put autonomous decision-making at the forefront, meaning that anything potentially persuasive was a threat to liberal democracy.
I’m a PhD student taking two courses in rhetorical history and theory this semester. This blog will serve as a reflective and generative space to make sense of ideas and connections between them.