Terministic Screens of Corruption: A Cluster Analysis of Colombian Radio Conversations

Adriana Angel, Universidad de Manizales (Colombia)
Benjamin Bates, Ohio University


To explore understandings of corruption in Colombia, we analyzed public talk on Hora 20, a very popular Colombian radio program. Using Burke’s concept of terministic screens and his method of cluster analysis, we found that Hora 20’s radio speakers express six terministic screens regarding corruption. Each cluster triggers different programs of action with diverse linguistic and practical implications, both for addressing problems of corruption in Colombia and for complicating Burke’s cluster analysis method.

Reflections on the First European Kenneth Burke Conference

Rhetoric as Equipment for Living: Kenneth Burke, Culture and Education

Kris Rutten, Ghent University
Dries Vrijders, Ghent University
Ronald Soetaert, Ghent University


This special issue of KB Journal is the first of two issues that offer a compilation of papers that were presented at the conference Rhetoric as Equipment for Living: Kenneth Burke, Culture and Education, which was held in May 2013 at Ghent University, Belgium. The aim of this conference was to introduce rhetoric as a major perspective for synthesizing the related turns in the humanities and social sciences—linguistic, cultural, ethnographic, interpretive, semiotic, narrative, etc.—that focus on the importance of signs and symbols in our interpretations of reality, heightening our awareness of the ties between language and culture. The conference focused specifically on "new rhetoric," a body of work that sets rhetoric free from its confinement within the traditional fields of education, politics and literature, not by abandoning these fields but by refiguring them. (On this, see Dilip Gaonkar.)

In Pursuit of Persuasion: Burke’s Rhetoric and the Artistic Practices of the Painter Frank Auerbach

Derek Pigrum, University of Bath


Jean-Luc Nancy states “there is an incapacity, an infinity, an impossibility inherent in writing about, to writing in the face of painting, for which every text on painting must account” (341). I began this paper with this in mind and, accordingly, I have chosen to view Frank Auerbach’s painting in terms of his practices and what he terms his “quest” but a quest that I believe has vital links to key notions in Kenneth Burke’s A Rhetoric of Motives that, although it deals primarily with works of literature, has, I will argue, a relation to the painting practices of Auerbach and perhaps other painters too.

The Vox Populi in Poems: Ramsey Nasr as Poet Laureate and Public Intellectual

Odile Heynders, Tilburg University


This paper puts the spotlight on the work of Dutch Poet Laureate Ramsey Nasr. In the four years of his official appointment, he wrote poems and essays articulating a critical perspective on the current political conjuncture in the Netherlands. The Poet Laureate can be considered a public intellectual in that he shows engagement in regard to concrete societal issues and ‘translates’ this into poetry. Using ideas and rhetorical tools from the work of Kenneth Burke, I will show how Nasr’s poetry prompts readers to identify with his perspective while illuminating how such identification leads to division from a perspective that frames nationalism in terms that would exclude multiethnic citizenship.

“If one language is not enough to convince you, I will use two”: Burkean Identification/Dissociation As a Key to Interpret Code-Switching

Marco Hamam, Università di Sassari (Italy)

PEOPLE ARGUE EVERY DAY. Convincing others, by letting them identify with the way we look at the world, is everyone’s bread-and-butter activity, everyone with his own rhetorical abilities. But how do bilinguals argue? Is the sociolinguistic phenomenon known as code-switching  rhetorically significant? What has Burke to tell us about code-switching?

Urban Motives—Rhetorical Approaches to Spatial Orientation, Burke on Lynch’s “The Image of the City”

Pierre Smolarski, University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld


Whoever raises questions about the legibility of the city must notice that the metaphor of legibility involves the ideas of interpreting signs and symbols under different motivational accesses, which leads to the creation of different scopes of reading, understanding and acting. Thus, the legibility of the city involves the idea of a rhetoric of the city. Kevin lynch is one of the most important theorists of the legibility of the city and his ground-breaking work The Image of the City is first of all on questions concerning the influence of architectural clues and city form on the degree a city becomes legible.

Expanding the Terministic Screen: A Burkean Critique of Information Visualization in the Context of Design Education

Anneli Bowie, University of Pretoria
Duncan Reyburn, University of Pretoria


In the face of what information design theorist Richard Wurman has dubbed "information anxiety," it is well documented that information visualization has become a widely accepted tool to assist with the navigation of the symbolic world. Information visualisations, or infographics, are essentially external cognitive aids such as graphs, diagrams, maps and other interactive and innovative graphic applications. It is often argued by design theorists that information visualisations are rhetorical texts in that they have the ability to persuade. Thus, it is not a leap to assert that information visualization may be understood as one expression of Kenneth Burke’s notion of the ‘terministic screen.’

Who Are You Working For? How 24 Served as Post-9/11 Equipment for Living

Laura Herrman, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen (Stuttgart, Germany)

JACK BAUER IS BACK—in May 2014, the Fox Broadcasting Company returned its groundbreaking television series 24 to international TV screens. Once more, CTU-Agent Jack Bauer faced ticking time bomb scenarios in which he had to conquer assassination attempts and terrorist attacks. Also, once more, viewers were tied to their screens when the real and hyper-real of reality and film will collapse (Weber 3).