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Kenneth Burke's Permanence and Change

A Critical Companion

Ann George



Published: Nov 27 2018


Published: Nov 27 2018

OA Ebook
Published: Nov 27 2018


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A guide to and analysis of a seminal books key concepts and methodology

Since its publication in 1935, Kenneth Burke's Permanence and Change, a text that can serve as an introduction to all his theories, has become a landmark of rhetorical theory. Using new archival sources and contextualizing Burke in the past and present, Ann George offers the first sustained exploration of this work and seeks to clarify the challenging book for both amateurs and scholars of rhetoric.

This companion to Permanence and Change explains Burke's theories through analysis of key concepts and methodology, demonstrating how, for Burke, all language and therefore all culture is persuasive by nature. Positioning Burke's book as a pioneering volume of New Rhetoric, George presents it as an argument against systemic violence, positivism, and moral relativism. Permanence and Change has become the focus of much current rhetorical study, but George introduces Burke's previously unavailable outlines and notes, as well as four drafts of the volume, to investigate his work more deeply than ever before. Through further illumination of the book's development, publication, and reception, George reveals Burke as a public intellectual and critical educator, rather than the eccentric, aloof genius earlier scholars imagined him to be.

George argues that Burke was not ahead of his time, but rather deeply engaged with societal issues of the era. She redefines Burke's mission as one of civic engagement, to convey the ethics and rhetorical practices necessary to build communities interested in democracy and human welfare—lessons that George argues are as needed today as they were in the 1930s.

Ann George is a professor of English at Texas Christian University, where she teaches courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, style, and 1930s America. She is coauthor of Kenneth Burke in the 1930s and coeditor of Women and Rhetoric between the Wars.

"Ann George's critical companion to Kenneth Burke's Permanence and Change is a thoughtful and smartly theoretical meditation on archival learning. It provides readers of all levels with a ready toolkit for getting into Burke's works and may be the first such toolkit offered in a deliberate, thorough, and synthesizing way."—Gregory Clark, Brigham Young University

"Ann George's book both multiplies and locates interpretation of Permanence and Change. Drawing from the archive, she recovers Burke the rhetorician, locates the context of the 1930s, and places the book within the 'New Rhetoric.' A must read for Burke scholars and those learning to use archives to enhance interpretation."—James Klumpp, University of Maryland

"With this companion, Ann George brings her meticulous research to Kenneth Burke's signature work. The result is a luminous introduction to both Burke and his early book, one that deepens existing accounts of key Burkean terms. George also reframes Burke as a model advocate of civic participation, something our world continues to need more than eight decades on."—Debra Hawhee, Pennsylvania State University

"Ann George's book offers an original, cogent, and illuminating reading of Kenneth Burke's Permanence and Change, and reveals the conditions surrounding its production and reception. George's lively treatment will be useful to those first engaging Burke but offers just as much to those already familiar with this vital rhetorical text."—Bryan Crable, president, Kenneth Burke Society

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