Re: [xmca] units of analysis,and Kenneth Burke

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Wed Feb 14 2007 - 10:08:35 PST

When I posted this, I forgot to mention what might be obvious to everyone:
the aptness of the "unending conversation" vignette to xmca, itself!

On Wed, 14 Feb 2007, Tony Whitson wrote:

> On Unit of Analysis, Eugene has a paper that he might be able to share.
> Eugene?
> On Burke I have a favorite three-page excerpt posted at
> It includes:
> Kenneth Burke writes
> =======
> In equating "dramatic" with "dialectic," we automatically have also our
> perspective for the analysis of history, which is a "dramatic" process,
> involving dialectical oppositions. (p. 109)
> =======
> We might consider how this also applies to the analysis of curriculum. Burke
> writes:
> =======
> Where does the drama get its materials? From the “unending conversation”
> that is going on at the point in history when we are born. Imagine that you
> enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded
> you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for
> them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion
> had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present
> is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You
> listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the
> argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another
> comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the
> embarrass- [111] ment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the
> quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable.
> The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion
> still vigorously in progress.
> It is from this “unending conversation” (the vision at the basis of
> Mead’s work) that the materials of your drama arise.* Nor is this verbal
> action all there is to it. For all these words are grounded in what
> Malinowski would call “contexts of situation.” And very important among these
> “contexts of situation” are the kind of factors considered by Bentham, Marx,
> and Veblen, the material interests (of private or class structure) that you
> symbolically defend or … [pp. 110-111; * footnote omitted]
> =======
> The text and footnotes on those pages include important points on the
> difference between positive and dialectical terms, as illustrated by the
> historically contingent meaning of principles embedded in the U.S.
> Constitution.
> On Tue, 13 Feb 2007, Mike Cole wrote:
>> Martin-- for your students-- and all--- for general consideration.
>> This week my class is reading Wertsch's book on Mind as Action.
>> In reading the book one issue has forcefully struck me that had already
>> been
>> gnawing at me. The word, consciousness, which
>> is so important at the beginning and end of T&L does not appear in the
>> index
>> of the text. And while it may appear somewhere
>> (I am now alerted!) it is not obvious so far. Rather, there is a remark on
>> p. 12 that comes off of a an interesting discussion
>> of Kenneth Burke (I am a big fan of Burke and dramatism approaches
>> generall) that reads:
>> The starting point of Burke's dramatistic method is that it takes human
>> action as the basic phenomenon to be analyzed. This assumption
>> provides the groundwork for building links between Burke and those of
>> figures such as ..... vygtosky, wertch, zinchenko,, bakhtin, & mead.
>> I know that your students have been focusing on the question of units of
>> analysis and primal cells, Martin.
>> I have been wanting to write something like, "The unit you choose
>> depends
>> upon the phenomenon you want to explain."
>> Blah blah blah...... etc
>> It seems to me that we need a very careful analysis of WHAT different
>> family
>> members in the chat/socicultural studies tradition want to explain.
>> If they are trying to explain different things, then they need different
>> units. But I do not know of a systematic description of what differerent
>> members
>> of the broad cultural-social-historical-activity approach believe
>> themselves
>> to be explaining.
>> David--
>> I guess I value etymologies more than you do. It is not that I disagree
>> that
>> people using a term, say, imagination, at present, do not have their
>> own interpretations/meanings/senses. Sure. But rather, knowing the history
>> (for me at least) often un-fossilizes the meanings/senses I have been
>> making by opening up totally new possibilities for re-considering what
>> Ithought I was talk about/through.
>> the so-znanie/o-so-znanie contrast is useful in helping me unfossilize my
>> understrandings. So is decomposing voobrazhenia (imagination)
>> into into-image-making-- especially when it is a blind-deaf psychologist
>> who
>> pushes the issue.
>> Or maybe I am just focused elsewhere.
>> Que penses compadres?
>> mike
>> (mlk are my initials in russian, which tickles me, oddball that i am)
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK DE 19716
> _______________________________
> "those who fail to reread
> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

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