ERIC Number: ED159691
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: 0
The William James Connection: Kenneth Burke and the Dialectics of Discourse.
Keith, Philip M.
Teaching composition as involving merely syntax and paragraph structure has no clear relation to an education in the liberal arts or to significant growth in understanding. Work in mechanics needs to be subordinated to the communicative and logological (how words act rather than their content) functions of language. One hopeful approach to teaching composition is expressed by Kenneth Burke in "A Grammar of Motives," where he calls for writers to work not only with a grammar of syntax but also with a grammar of motives. He gives the composition theorist a way of anchoring all levels of the writing process in a dialectical process in which powers of manipulation become powers of understanding. Burke uses the writing of William James to illustrate what he means: language is a map of the mind because language does not merely refer to the world, it creates one. In adopting a logological attitude, the writer finds that language is infused with action and there is a dramatic interplay between thinker and ideas: the thinker is exhorted while ideas produce, enable, possess, admonish, and suspend. The kind of verbal world that is alive to the drama of word choice is much more open to discovery, insight, and learning than is the world of language as mechanics. (TJ)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Burke (Kenneth); James (William)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (29th, Denver, Colorado, March 30-April 1, 1978)