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A Rhetoric of Motives

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  241 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations were at the beginning purely esthetic and literary; but after Counter-Statement (1931), he began to discriminate a "rhetorical" or persuasive component in literature, and thereupon became a philosopher of language and human conduct.

In A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950), Burke's conception of "symbolic acti
Paperback, 356 pages
Published October 1st 1969 by University of California Press (first published 1969)
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Jul 27, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rhet-and-media
If Burke hadn't written this text, I wouldn't have been accepted into a doctoral program, and I don't think I would have enjoyed doing one very much, anyway. When we think of rhetoric as something more than Aristotle's observing the available means of persuasion, and look instead at processes of identification, we can see rhetoric at work everywhere, all the time. For me, Burke also forever defeated the pejorative connotations of "rhetoric," and it turned into something not about deception and m ...more
Andrea Riley
Jun 28, 2007 Andrea Riley rated it it was amazing
sure--it's rhetoric but Burke uses really interesting examples to discuss a larger issue--amazing book--especially for the author's super long tangents
Will Miller
Sep 11, 2007 Will Miller rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
Before reading him, I thought of Burke as a smart literary theorist along traditional lines, like Northrop Frye or Frank Kermode. Nuh uh. This book is more interested in closing the distinction between the rhetorical language we use everyday and the strategies of literature and philosophy. It's very difficult, tangential, personal, frustrating, and interesting. It might be better to pick it up once in a while and read a section carefully rather than attempt to plow through start to finish.
Kathy Elrick
Jan 11, 2015 Kathy Elrick rated it really liked it
I only give it four stars because of the organization of it - otherwise, the thoughts are foundational and extensive. A good intro to new possible outlooks on an old topic of rhetoric.
amylea clemons
Apr 23, 2007 amylea clemons rated it it was amazing
The book that changed my life. Pages 1-50 still make my head spin.
Nov 17, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: rhet-comp, field-exam
If there is an “ultimate motive”—to twist one of Burke’s own terms—guiding A Rhetoric of Motives, it seems to be the prevention of war. Or, perhaps more modestly, directing readers’ attention to the ways rhetoric can both presage and create the conditions for war and, in turn, making one of rhetorical criticism’s goals the seeking out and exposing of violent rhetoric. In making his argument, Burke draws on numerous examples from literature (e.g. Milton and Henry James), popular culture (e.g. pne ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: field-exam, rhetoric
Admittedly, I often have no idea what K.B. is saying. He combines some very clear, beautifully world-changing rhetorical philosophy with long examples from literature, and I can’t entirely reconcile the two. Overall, I love the idealism of what Burke proposes—a sort of world peace based on what is similar and distinction of what is separate. Most exciting to me was his description of how Marxism combines the momentarily with the mythic as workers struggle not just for their own wage, but as part ...more
Jeremiah Henry
If you are at all interested in composition and rhetorical theory, this is a must-read. Not only does Burke give a useful and thorough overview of rhetorical theory from the Greeks through the Enlightenment, he argues quite convincingly the antecedent purpose of rhetoric. As should be expected from a text that is predicated on philosophy to explore language theory, the text itself is rather "heady" and must be read at a walking pace.
Nov 20, 2009 Mandy added it
I'm not going to give it any stars because I didn't read it all, I only read the portion assigned for my rhetoric class... and I am looking forward to my professor making some sense of it because, well, I am LOST.
Nov 02, 2011 Erin rated it liked it
Thank goodness for professors that summarize everything we read or else I would be truly lost. I chose to write my paper on a different rhetorician and so I will probably never truly understand what he was talking about, and I am ok with that.
Carl Laamanen
Sep 11, 2014 Carl Laamanen rated it really liked it
Shelves: osu-fall14
An important work, necessary for its time, but can come off as a bit unseemly today, considering most of us are fully aware of rhetoric's ubiquity.
Kalle Oskar
Sep 07, 2011 Kalle Oskar rated it it was amazing
A difficult and thought provoking read. At times it becomes rather obscure. Burke's thought developed out of his love of words and the mystery of motivation.
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Kenneth Duva Burke was a major American literary theorist and philosopher. Burke's primary interests were in rhetoric and aesthetics.

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