« Richards and Language | Main | Burke and practicality »

Burke and literature (Gusfield or Bizzell/Herzberg?)

Did anyone else who read or glanced through Gusfield's introduction notice that in one particular, it seems to contradict a statement made in The Rhetorical Tradition about Burke? On page 3, Gusfield says "Burke has denied the special privileged position of imaginative writing as a vehicle of study" while in their introduction to Richards, Bizzell and Herzberg note that literature is considered a higher form of rhetoric for both Richards and Burke. I think that these statements reflect each editor's motives. Gusfield wants to make sure that Burke fits into his camp of sociologists and so downplays his role as a literary critic, and wants to portray him as analyzing all sorts of "text." Since he is alongside so many other rhetors in their anthology, Bizzell and Hertzberg make note of how literature is more central to his work than for many other rhetors, thus distinguishing him from the whole without denying his place in it.

Given his tendency to use literature before other types of text, and what I read as his strong denigration of the semantic style (Can we assume that this roughly correlates with scientific or utilitarian writing?) on page 101, I would side with Bizzell/Herzberg. This makes me wonder if the Gusfield anthology has a strong sociological bias and if calling Burke a sociologist is a bit like calling Locke a rhetor. How do the other members of the class see him in this regard?

Tor.