Burke and Derrida

While re-reading Kenneth Burke's Counter-Statement (1931), I couldn’t help noticing a thematic similarity between the end of Burke’s “Thomas Mann and Andre Gide” and a chunk from the middle of Derrida’s famous essay, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” These two passages seem linked in a kind of call-and-response relationship, with … Continue reading Burke and Derrida

Thoughts on Value as a (Contingent) Social Construct

Currently reading Barbara Hernstein Smith’s Contingencies of Value (1988, Harvard UP) and thinking a lot about how value (literary, aesthetic, moral, or otherwise) could operate as a contingent yet rigorous system of interrelated evaluative decisions. Echoing Chaim Perelman’s notion that ‘knowledge’ is determined via a network of socially agreed-upon standards and rules (cf. Wittgenstein’s “language … Continue reading Thoughts on Value as a (Contingent) Social Construct

The Rhetoric of Dreams: I.A. Richards, Martin Luther King, and the American Civil Rights Movement

For I.A. Richards, language is not simply a “signaling system” or “code” acting as an appendage to experience, but rather a vital “instrument” constitutive of experience that structures the reality in which we live (Nichols 129).  Since two individuals can never share the exact same experiences in life, they must use language as a tool for … Continue reading The Rhetoric of Dreams: I.A. Richards, Martin Luther King, and the American Civil Rights Movement

The Dialectical Objectivist: Louis Zukofsky’s “Mantis” Poems

In Revolution of the Word, Jerome Rothenberg introduces Louis Zukofsky’s Objectivist poetics by stating that it entails “[n]ot a polarization into object/subject but a dialectic” (239). Unfortunately, Rothenberg offers no further commentary regarding this conception of “dialectic,” and his nebulous use of the term fails to say much about how readers should approach works like … Continue reading The Dialectical Objectivist: Louis Zukofsky’s “Mantis” Poems