Responses to KENNETH BURKE: FROM MYTH TO ECOLOGY (2013)

Perspectives on KENNETH BURKE: FROM MYTH TO ECOLOGY (2013)

EXTRACTS FROM ORIGINAL REVIEWS OF KENNETH BURKE ON MYTH, OF WHICH KENNETH BURKE: FROM MYTH TO ECOLOGY IS A REVISED VERSION*

[*Please note that some minor changes were made in the new edition: mostly clarifications of factual information in the introduction, and corrections to some of the more outrageous typos in the original.]

1.In his review for the KB Journal Daniel Smith writes:

Following his introductory remarks, Coupe performs a virtuoso reading of Burke that spans five chapters. … One of the most intriguing parts of this final chapter is Coupe’s suggestion—one carried over into the book’s conclusion—that Burke himself can be considered a mythmaker, and that the rhetorical re-iteration and performance of myth can be a viable form of transformative social action. Coupe’s Burke-inspired ideas about the transformative potentials of myth embraces the para-religious dimensions of Burke’s thought, something avoided by many Burkeans. He doesn’t describe it as such, but Coupe extracts from Burke’s corpus what might be called a comic religiosity, which is quite open to learning from Eastern and Western religious and spiritual traditions but at the same time makes it quite difficult for its ‘followers’ to be self-righteousness or dogmatic. Whatever readers of Coupe’s book may think of the content of its argument—and there is substantial content to engage—it is difficult to deny that Coupe’s project performs for us something all too rare in Burke scholarship: the embodiment of Burke’s ‘impious’ and comically religious spirit. And this, finally, is what makes Kenneth Burke on Myth a must-read.

2.Susan Rowland in her review for Harvest: International Journal for Jungian Studies writes:

Coupe’s book is a wonderfully lucid introduction to a now neglected thinker. In showing the importance of Burke to the modern world, he also demonstrates why we need to look again at those thinkers who, like Jung, offer a re-evaluation of the religious impulse in man. It matters to this century even more than to the last.

 

EXTRACT FROM REVIEW OF KENNETH BURKE: FROM MYTH TO ECOLOGY

1.In her review in Green Letters, Isabel Galleymore writes:

Aware of Burke’s focus upon the human as distinct from the non-human (through the ‘symbolic act’) and how this may appear anthropocentric, Coupe makes sure to explain that Burke ‘wishes to put humanity in its place’. .. Coupe advocates Burke’s ‘Nature’ and ‘Supernature’ as essential to the corrective process. After all, ‘Nature’ puts the human in his/her place with regard to human life and ‘Supernature’ puts the human in his/her place by recognising and revealing the human need for a spiritual beyond. Such acknowledgement of the importance of Nature, as well as nature, forms a refreshing and thought-provoking conclusion that challenges recent green scholarship influenced by Timothy Morton’s Ecology without Nature.

2.Dave Measel gives a lively assessment of the book on YouTube: