[KB] new book relevant to Burke-ophiles

Clarke Rountree rountrj at uah.edu
Mon Mar 3 20:45:45 EST 2014

Congratulations, Greg! It sounds provocative.


Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 3, 2014, at 7:21 PM, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:

New Book on screen violence relevant to Burke-ophiles

*Screens of Blood: A Critical Approach to Film and Television Violence*

By Gregory Desilet

Published by McFarland Press (Feb. 2014)

The question of the relationship between screen violence and real world
violence has been long debated. The net result of this continuous debate,
thus far, has been confusion and issue stagnation. Few are clear on what is
happening and, consequently, most are hesitant to propose any general
response. This book changes the game. It provides insight on how to
evaluate violent entertainment in relation to its potential to inspire real
violence and thereby opens a path for understanding the appropriate nature
of cultural and collective response.

Intense periodic waves of popular and political concern regarding the issue
of screen violence in relation to real violence are repeatedly renewed and
amplified by each cruel incident of random or not-so-random gun or bomb
violence. We have all seen concern over this issue spike many times over
the last decade.

In the wake of nearly every deadly incident, evidence surfaces to suggest
possible unhealthy influence derived from violent screen entertainments
through film, television, internet, or video games. The possibility of such
influence then sets off a round of opinion pieces in newspapers and blogs
and a series of political posturings in relation to popular pressure to do
something about the prevalence and intensity of screen entertainment
violence. Popular outrage then meets political stalemate as lobbyists in
the entertainment industry push back by pointing to the lack of hard
evidence--the contradictory or inconclusive results of empirical studies.
Unable to persuade through hard evidence and unable to marshal any other
form of persuasive line of argument, popular outrage readily deflects
toward focus on gun and mental health regulation. But focus on the latter
two issues, while admirable and important, should not come at the expense
of focus on the issue of screen violence.

Much more can and ought to be said and done about screen violence and these
discussions and actions need to derive from more nuanced and critically
reflective understandings. All screen entertainments with portrayed
violence do not belong in the same category of concern with regard to
potential for real world aggression and violence effects. "Screens of
Blood" borrows from one of America's foremost literary critics and
communication theorists, Kenneth Burke, and re-imagines and expands his
Poetic Categories. These categories provide a foundation for prying more
deeply into the relation between the structure of dramatic narratives and
the potential effects of portrayed violence.

This approach is thoroughly developed in the Introduction and the remainder
of the book is devoted to applying these insights in the analysis of
particular cases. Half of the book examines examples in film and the other
half focuses on examples drawn from popular television dramatic series.
Some examples in each section illustrate praiseworthy dramas containing
violence and others illustrate what not to do in portraying violence with
regard to effects. These evaluations turn as much on criteria for creating
dramatic conflict as they do criteria for reduced potential for violent
real world effects. In sum, the book makes a persuasive case in providing
an explanation for the confusing results of empirical studies while
enlisting an alternative critical/rhetorical/poetic methodology as the
primary engine in gaining needed clarity on the question of screen violence

For further information follow these links:

Table of contents:

Additional reasons to read:

Available from the publisher here:

And available from all other online booksellers.

Gregory Desilet

Independent Scholar


*Gregory Desilet* has spent more than two decades researching and writing
on communication and rhetorical theory, language philosophy, and various
media and cultural phenomena as these relate to conflict, violence, and
community formation. He holds degrees in communication and media studies
from the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of
Colorado at Boulder. He lives in Longmont, Colorado.

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