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Reading Kenneth Burke: Or any challenging reading for that matter: Home

On Challenging Readings x_x

Being assigned a reading outside of your scope is challenging. Here are some steps to get you through it:

  1. First, acknowledge your feelings about this reading. "After reading this, it made me feel":
  2. Next, identify the things you can do to better metabolize this reading. Just like Rolaids prevent heartburn from eating fondue, you can do some preventive work to not have mind indigestion with consuming this reading.
  3. Let's start with an easy Google search of the author. Wikipedia, I don't need to cite you, so you're fair game: Kenneth Burke. What the heck, let's see what it says about Language as a Symbolic Action too.
  4. Already feeling better? Good, let's get some additional perspective. Time to do an AppSearch: terms: Kenneth Burke and Terministic Screens, full text online, peer review, please. Whew, at least people are still talking about this stuff. 755 is a lot to go through, let's adjust the dates from the time I could read...1990-present, please. 693...not tons better, but at least pulling results that are modern to me.
  5. This is still a lot to go through, and no promises anything here is better to read. Maybe I should include the terms indicating I would like to read, something modern, or contemporary. Yes, what's Kenneth Burke and Contemporary Criticism about? You look like ten pages of additional, needed, context. Also, it might make me feel better to know that there are others, experts even, that find Burke somewhat arcane: Reading Kenneth Burke: Ways In, Ways Out, Ways Roundabout.
  6. After reading some additional, bite size morsels of information, maybe I'm ready to at least discuss this? If not, return to step four or five and try again (though, use different search terms...or specific terms in the reading that you find still confusing).

Based on Additional Help--Some of my takeaways

Based on this reading, and all the other readings I needed to peruse to get to a level of understanding, I have some takeaways.

  • This essay appears to be about framing. Everyone uses symbols (usually language) to grasp reality. These framing models (or Screens) are essentially SnapChat filters (just kidding), and I may need to adjust my screen to best convey my idea to my audience.
  • The audience has to adjust their screen too. If anything else, they may need to be willing to at least empathize with the communicator, that there is a passion (need) to communicate an idea.
  • This is the philosophy of Metaphysics, (though, it sounds like Burke himself would balk at this). And reminds me of a film I saw, and hated, in 2008 (when I was in Grad School!), Synecdoche, New York
  • To tie this to a conversation ongoing today, see this article on consciousness in The Conversation

Final Thoughts on Hard Readings

It's easy for me to make fun of this, but in truth, learning to read challenging things is an essential part of being human. If we don't learn to read the things in the past, and appreciate them for what they are, we are in danger of losing a part of ourselves that was once truly held dear. You don't have to read difficult things to be a smart person, or even a well rounded person. But challenging (daring?) yourself to read outside your comfort zone allows you to connect with the past, and give meaning to the future.

Science Librarian