One of my favorite rhetorical theorists, Kenneth Burke has done wonders for communication. Not only is he proficient in communication theory, but he is also known for creative writing, social psychology, and linguistic analysis. His most noted theory, in which I will be discussing throughout this paper, is that of dramatism. Burke has done amazing things to shape what we know about communication theory. According to Littlejohn , anyone who is writing about communication today, in some way is restating something that Burke had already created. Burke wrote a several books over a period of fifty years dealing mainly with symbolic theory.
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One of my favorite rhetorical theorists, Kenneth Burke has done wonders for communication. Not only is he proficient in communication theory, but he is also known for creative writing, social psychology, and linguistic analysis.
His most noted theory, in which I will be discussing throughout this paper, is that of dramatism. Burke has done amazing things to shape what we know about communication theory. According to Littlejohn , anyone who is writing about communication today, in some way is restating something that Burke had already created. Burke wrote a several books over a period of fifty years dealing mainly with symbolic theory.
The main concept of dramatism is broken into two parts: action and motion. Action is something that people do on purpose in way of their voluntary behavior. Motions are behaviors that are non-purposeful and non-meaningful. Littlejohn explains that only people have actions and objects and animals have motion. Actions deal with the basic forms of thought. Motives are a linguistic product of rhetorical action.
Motives are the particular way people understand events and the recommendations for response inherent to the discourse that it presents for its audience. Burke, In order for motives to be understood further, Burke presents what is knows as the Pentad. They are act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose. According to Burke, the act is basically what took place.
The agent is who or what did the act. The scene is where the act took place, or the background of the act. The agency is what the person used to perform the act and finally the purpose is why the act took place.
So he takes some nude photos that he has of her and publishes them on the internet for revenge. The act is publishing the nude photos on to the internet. This is what took place. The agent is the fraternity guy who performed the act. It is also important when defining the scene to indicate when the act to took place. So we will say that it took place in the middle of the night while the fraternity guy was irate. The agency is tools used in performing the act. In this case, the agency would be a computer and scanner.
The purpose of the act would be to seek revenge on his girlfriend or soon to be ex-girlfriend. The pentad can be used to explain and analyze almost any thing that happens in the world. Whether it is a physical action similar to the above example or even what someone would say or think. It is very easy to understand and can be applied to the simplest scenarios or to the most complex.
The pentad itself is based around drama. The words scene, act, etc. Thus his communication theory is known as dramatism. To further analyze this theory we must use check the criteria when evaluating theories. When evaluating theories, it is important to check to see if the theory is necessary and desirable.
The theory is necessary because it is logically consistent and testable as I have shown. The theory, too, is desirable. It is fairly simple, pleasing to the mind, and useful.
The theory is also interpretable to explain and predict. This theory also fits the standard functions of theories. With these parts separated, it allows us to focus our attention on the important variables. Since our event is divided up it enables us to clarify our interpretations of observations.
Finally, it explains and predicts the event. Yet another aspect to look at when analyzing theories is corrigibility. Corrigibility is the persistence that no matter how right everyone thinks the theory may be, that there might be some sort of flaw or disconfirmation some where along the lines.
If the theory eventually is proven wrong, we then can look into more detail to create one that is even better. Thus, new theories advance our society. Cagle, Two individuals can look at an event and possible see it different. Each and every one of us has different temperaments, talents, and convictions, which persuade us to understand things slightly differently. Since this happens, two individuals who experienced the same event may feel that they came up with a purpose that was not congruent.
In other words, I may feel that the fraternity guy posted those nude pictures of his girlfriend on the internet out of jealousy while someone else may feel he did it out of kindness. Republicans and democrats do this all the time when political events occur. All and all, I feel that Burke created an excellent theory that may serve us for the next hundred years. His experience and knowledge in the field of communication makes him one of the most noted of his kind and his works and materials in all of his fields will remain as a mentor for all of us.
Burke, K. Grammar of motives. Philosophy of literary form 3 rd ed. Cagle, J. Science and theories. Retrieved 13 March from the World Wide Web:. Littlejohn, S.
dramatism (rhetoric and composition)
Dramatism , an interpretive communication studies theory, was developed by Kenneth Burke as a tool for analyzing human relationships. In this theory, our lives are as if on a stage, setting us individuals as actors on that stage as a way to understand human motives and relations. As cited in "A Note on Burke on "Motive"", the author recognized the importance of "motive" in Burke's work. To understand people's movement and intentions, the theorist sets up the Dramatistic Pentad strategy for viewing life, not as life itself,  by comparing each social unit involved in human activities as five elements of drama — act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose,  to answer the empirical question of how persons explain their actions,  and to find the ultimate motivations of human activities. Kenneth Burke was an established literary critic originally influenced by Shakespeare and Aristotle 's rhetoric at the time he developed his Dramatism theory. Using his classical education of literature and rhetoric as a foundation, Dramatism was largely influenced by the philosophies of Karl Marx , Friedrich Nietzche , and Sigmund Freud. The joining of these ideologies pushed Burke's work from literary to cultural criticism.
Kenneth Burke and the method of dramatism