Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 377–384 | Cite as

Form, Experience and the Centrality of Rhetoric to Pedagogy

  • Barry BrummettEmail author


This essay notes a resurgence of interest in rhetorical studies on the appeal of form, grounded in the work of rhetorical theorist Kenneth Burke. The essay argues that form is not only a way to structure discourses, it is a way to structure experience. Form is foundational in creating perceptions and thus experiences. Form is also highly rhetorical, in that how we structure our world carries social and ideological implications. The essay thus argues that an understanding of form as foundational and rhetorical should be central to the educational curriculum. This way of understanding form is then a way of making rhetoric central to education in ways surpassing even the efforts of the ancient Greeks and Romans. A rhetorically centered curriculum based on teaching students how to understand form in their lives is empowering and liberating for students at the same time that it instills in them a strong awareness of ethics.


Kenneth Burke Curriculum Education Ethics Form Rhetoric 


  1. Biesta, G. (2009). Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (Formerly: Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education), 21(1), 33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biesta, G. (2012). Becoming world-wise: An educational perspective on the rhetorical curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44(6), 815–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brummett, B. (1984). The representative anecdote as a Burkean method, applied to evangelical rhetoric. Southern Communication Journal, 50(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brummett, B. (1985). Electric literature as equipment for living: Haunted house films. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 2(2), 247–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brummett, B. (1988). The homology hypothesis: Pornography on the VCR. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 5(2), 202–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brummett, B. (2004). Rhetorical homologies: Form, culture, experience. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brummett, B. (2008). A Rhetoric of Style. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Burke, K. (1931). Counter-Statement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Burke, K. (1962). A grammar of motives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Burke, K. (1973). The philosophy of literary form (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cicero, M. T. (1942). De Oratore. (E. W. Sutton, H. Rackham, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Clark, D. L. (1957). Rhetoric in Greco-Roman education. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture: The meaning of style. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  14. McKeon, R. (1987). Rhetoric: Essays in invention and discovery. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press.Google Scholar
  15. Olson, K. M. (2002). Detecting a common interpretive framework for impersonal violence: The homology in participants’ rhetoric on sport hunting, “hate crimes”, and stranger rape. Southern Communication Journal, 67(2), 215–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Richards, I. A. (1936). The philosophy of rhetoric. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rutten, K., & Soetaert, R. (2012). Revisiting the rhetorical curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44(6), 727–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Vico, G. (1984). The new science of Giambattista Vico, unabridged translation of the 3rd edition (1744) with the addition of Practice of the new science. Trans. Bergin. T. G. and Fisch, M. H. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Willis, P. (1981). Learning to labor: How working class kids get working class jobs. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Charles Sapp Centennial Professor in Communication, Department of Communication Studies ChairThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations