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With Essays toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955 ..
With Essays toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955 (ETSM), the late William H. Rueckert, long the “dean” of Burke studies, added in his final year a fitting capstone to his long list of contributions to Burke studies. Alone among Burke scholars, Rueckert corresponded with Burke about the Symbolic for decades.1
These three versions include (1) Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives: 1950-1955, (2) Poetics, Dramatistically Considered, and (3) A Symbolic of Motives.
1950 1955 essay motive symbolic toward
Debra Hawhee asserts that Rueckert seemed to have resented this blockage, and the physical body that was the cause of it. As she demonstrates in a 'medical examination' of a "body biography" (Burke's personal letters during the attempted writing of the Symbolic of Motives), "[i]n the 1950's, Burke's own body was falling apart" (Hawhee 129). Indeed, there seems to be a correlation between the "mechanical breakdowns" of Burke's body, and the writing. In various essays contained in Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955 (e.g., "Goethe"; "Mind, Body"; "Rhetoric and Poetics"; "Thinking of the Body"), Burke can be seen to struggle with how to understand and represent the "physical" as motive, as symbolic action, without falling into the trap of causality and mechanical force. Hawhee believes Burke does this in part through the concept of catharsis, discussed below. We now know that OOP will not help this effort—cannot provide a rhetorical metaphysic for human motivation (cf. Rickert, who argues for a rhetorical metaphysic that is not based on the human body at all, but rather the rhetorical interrelations of everything in the environment as "ambient"). But from Burke we have no full dramatistic treatment of bodily functions as motives in rhetoric and poetry (but cf. Hawhee 105-155, who does give us a treatment).
Burke, Kenneth. "A 'Dramatistic' View of 'Imitation.'" Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives: 1950-1955. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2007. 5-18. Print.
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—. "Goethe's Faust, Part I." Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives: 1950-1955. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2007. 283-310. Print.
Rueckert, William, ed. Introduction. Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives: 1950-1955. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2007. xi-xxi. Print.
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