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Chapter 4: Cluster Criticism

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Tiffany Durham

on 17 September 2013

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Transcript of Chapter 4: Cluster Criticism

Chapter 4: Cluster Criticism

Kenneth Burke
"specialist in symbol-systems and symbolic action."
Defines rhetoric as:
"the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce action in other human agents. "
Identifying key terms
Select no more than five to six terms that appear to be most significant
Charting the Clusters
Terms may cluster around the key terms in various ways
Close proximity or a conjunction
May develop a cause-and-effect relationship between the key term and another term
Agon Analysis
"Is the examination of opposing terms that involves looking for terms that oppose or contradict other terms in the rhetoric"
How rhetor attempts to create identification
Naming or defining situations for audiences
Offers command or instructions in dealing with the situation
Assistance in interpreting a situation
Cluster Criticism
The cluster around key terms can illuminate the meanings the rhetor has for those key terms.
Describe the idea you think is best
Individuals form selves or identities through various properties or substances.
physical objects, occupations, friends, activities, beliefs, and values.
"As two entities are united in substance through common ideas, attitudes, material possessions, or other properties."
One in the same, but separate
Example: Two roommates
"You persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his."
Terministic Screens
"...revealing the worldview..."
Constitute a reflection, selection, and deflection of reality.
Critical approaches to investigate the constructs of terministic screens
Perspective by incongruity
Motivational orders
Cluster Criticism
"...the meanings that key symbols have for a rhetor are discovered by charting the symbols that cluster around those key symbols in an artifact."
Procedure: Cluster Method of Criticism
Selecting an artifact
Analyzing the artifact
Formulating a research question
Writing the essay
Selecting an Artifact
Discursive or nondiscursive artifacts
Has to be long and complex to contain several key terms that cluster around the key terms in the artifact.
Analyzing the Artifact
Identify the key terms
Charting the terms that cluster around the key terms
Discovering an explanation for the artifact.
God and Devil terms
God terms = ultimate term that represents the ideal
Devil Term = ultimate negative or evil
Terrorism = devil term
Security = god term
Analyzing nondiscursive
Example: work of art
Key terms are not words but visual elements
Colors, shapes, or images
" Of course there is much
of the
by this
or that, depending on the court's
in various highly publicized cases. Some of the
is profoundly
...On the other hand, the
and often

is almost always
in thinking..."
- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Discovering an explanation for the artifact
Find patterns in the association or linkages discovered in the charting
Linkage suggest--meaning of the key term is modified or influenced by that associated term
Formulating a Research Question
The explanations you develop for artifact from charting its clusters can suggest questions about:
Strategies used to accomplish particular objectives
Kinds of meaning being communicated
Writing the Essay
Five major components
An introduction
Description of the artifact and context
Description of the method of criticism
Report of the findings of the analysis
Discussion of the contribution the analysis makes
Refer back to the pros and cons
Explain how it will help
Describe the next steps
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
Full transcript