Kenneth Burke’s Attitude Toward Rhetoric

This paper charts a course through Kenneth Burke’s extensive body of works by focusing on his rhetorically inflected theory of social criticism. It progresses from Burke’s ideas about symbolic action and dramatism to a discussion of identification. It features Burke’s definition of man, his treatment of the victimage ritual, and his notion of the comic corrective as three useful heuristics for understanding rhetoric as a vehicle for improving agonistic human relations without sacrificing diversity.