[KB] question about resistance to Burke

Joshua Gunn slewfoot at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Dec 5 23:16:33 EST 2007

Jim relates a story about Burke bashing (BB-ers) at ECA, and then muses:

>These students at ECA were making a similar move [like attacking 
>but there was a new hegemony.  Their attack on Burke, regardless of how
>bogus, opened a space for them to make the case for their ideas.
>The assumptions that structure Burke's thought and that led us away from
>the Neo-Aristotelianism of an earlier era are now the air that we
>breathe.  The effort to make room for other voices will naturally need
>to open space within that hegemony.

I think this is absolutely true; the ol' Oedipal routine seems soul 
deep in the Western academy.  Three cheers for dead daddies!  Burke 
is dead! Long live Burke! (indigestion, anyone?)

Yet if patricide is the form, there is still something to the content 
that is the other half of the "truth."  The arrival of the project of 
the posts (signalled by Heather Branstetter's recent post on 
Biesecker's book) and the challenge of posthumanist thinking (since 
Heidegger, etc.) also leads to a number of content-based, and 
legitimate, critiques of Burke.  For example, rhetorical studies for 
many years got its Freud and Marx distilled from Burke.  I teach a 
class titled, "Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and Burke," the whole point of 
which is to see what Burke retains and what he filters.

If a Daddy or Mommy is propped, they will be killed, but not only 
because they are Daddy/Mommy: also because the progeny +learn+, have 
been taught well (props to CSN&Y).  Something my advisor never ceased 
to preach (and still does).

What Burke filters out is certainly interesting.  It's called 
"desire," "jouissance," "affect," and I conjecture folks took to it 
in a scientistic mood then, a mood that has long passed now (at least 
on the Comm Studies side of the fence).  Much more to say here, but 
I'll leave off for more voices here and sleep in my there.


Joshua Gunn, Assistant Professor                       joshiejuice.com: Web
Communication Studies                      slewfoot at mail.utexas.edu: Email
University of Texas at Austin		                512-471-3933 : Phone

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