Perhaps this is a theory I should already understand, but for some reason I can never quite remember what it means. Reading in Booth’s The Rhetoric of Rhetoric, he discusses this many times. Booth says, “But reductive positivists persuaded more and more followers to believe that scientific proof was the only form of genuine reasoning. Scientists were on the path to genuine knowledge, while all other pursuers of knowledge depended on flimsy decorations” (30).

Archetypal Drama

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

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).

Biographical Details:

  • 1897-1993
  • Pennsylvania


Immanual Kant

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.

Biographical Details

  • 1724-1804
  • Prussian

Related Schools

  • Enlightenment