No Laughing Matter: Revisiting Kenneth Burke’s Comic Approach To Criticism

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jessica Chaplain (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Scott Welsh

Abstract: In the literature on Kenneth Burke’s comic frame, scholars have misarticulated and misrepresented what the frame is and how it operates. These mistakes divert attention from Burke’s more nuanced discussion of the frame and leads to an oversimplified and problematic conception of Burkean comedy. Furthermore, the constant commitment to finding the frame throughout a variety of rhetorical discourses and texts misses how Burke saw the frame as a method of criticism. In my analysis of the comic frame literature, I discuss these misconceptions and how they differ from Burke’s intentions for the comic frame. I then use “The Rhetoric of Hitler’s ‘Battle’” as a guide to what a more grounded and faithful approach to the comic frame would like look. The aim of this thesis then is to suggest scholars revisit key tenants of the comic frame in their uses of it and argue for how Burkean comedy can be revitalized as a method for social criticism.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Chaplain, J. (2018). "No Laughing Matter: Revisiting Kenneth Burke’s Comic Approach To Criticism." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Kenneth Burke, Burkean Comic Criticism, Comic Frame, Attitudes Towards History, Comic Frame Literature

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