Guide to the Kenneth Burke papers

06369

Collection Overview

Title:
Kenneth Burke papers
Dates (Inclusive):
1915-2008
Creator:
Burke, Kenneth, 1897-1993
Creator:
Kenneth Burke Literary Trust
Abstract:
Kenneth Burke (1897-1993) was a poet, novelist, short story writer, music reviewer, and translator, but he is most widely known as a philosopher of language. The collection consists primarily of manuscripts, notes, correspondence, reviews, and annotated news clippings.
Collection Number:
06369
Size:
57 Linear Feet
Size:
Housed in 55 containers
Location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the  library catalog.
Repository:
Special Collections Library. Pennsylvania State University.
Languages:
English

Biography

Kenneth Duva Burke, was born 5 May 1897, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, son of Lillyan May Duva and James Leslie Burke. He attended Ohio State University in 1916 and Columbia University in 1917. In 1918 Burke left Columbia to begin a program of self-study and writing among the avant-garde in Greenwich Village. There he wrote for the little magazines and in the 1920s became closely associated with The Dial Magazine, which he also helped edit. After publishing a novel and major texts in the 1930s, Burke accepted academic assignments at the New School of Social Research (1937) and the University of Chicago (1938, 1949-1950). In 1943 Burke began his long association with Bennington College, Vermont, where he taught literary theory and criticism. After retiring in 1961, Burke accepted shorter teaching and lecturing opportunities at universities across the United States, even into his later years. During this time, Burke's writings came into wider recognition, and he received many honorary doctorates and other awards, among them the Gold Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1975) and the National Medal for Literature (1981). Kenneth Burke lived most of his life, from 1922 until his death in 1993, at this home in Andover, New Jersey.

Kenneth Burke wrote a novel, poems, short stories, translations, music reviews, and social commentary. However, he is most widely known as a philosopher of language whose theories of language have influenced contemporary thought, particularly in areas of rhetoric, literary theory, communication, and cultural studies. Burke's major works include Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose (1935; 3rd rev. ed. 1984),  Attitudes Toward History (2 volumes, 1937; 3rd. rev. ed. 1984),  The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action (1941, 3rd. ed. 1973),  A Grammar of Motives (1945; 2nd ed. 1955; 1969),  A Rhetoric of Motives (1950; 2nd ed. 1955; 1969),  The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology (1961; 1970),  Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method (1966), and  Dramatism and Development (1972). Many of Burke's essays have been published in various collections.

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Scope and Contents

Burke-1 contains correspondence and follows Burke's original order, chronological and then alphabetical by the correspondents' last names.

Burke-2 contains the correspondence collection of language theorist Kenneth Duva Burke, largely from the mid- to late twentieth century. The collection includes the original letters of many well-known correspondents, among them, Malcolm Cowley, Denis Donoghue, Ralph Ellison, Marianne Moore, Howard Nemerov, Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, and James Sibley Watson, Jr. Burke's interfiled responses complete exchanges and narrate, as well, engaging accounts of Burke's own life and thought during his late productive period. Some typescripts, photographs, verse, articles, and clippings are also interfiled. As a whole, the collection uniquely documents significant historical and cultural conversations of its time.

Burke-3 offers a rich source of materials related to Kenneth Burke's writings from 1915 to 1969. The collection consists primarily of manuscripts, notes, correspondence, reviews, and annotated news clippings. Highlights include Burke's letters to Malcolm Cowley (1915 to 1929; 1931), early fiction, responses to student writing at Bennington College, speeches, articles, and drafts of Permanence and Change,  A Grammar of Motives, and  A Rhetoric of Motives, as well as material for  A Rhetoric of Religion.

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Arrangement

The collection is divided into three series: Burke 1, Burke 2, and Burke 3.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Restrictions

Photocopies of original materials may be made available for research purposes at the discretion of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library. Photocopies or reproductions of original materials may be subject to fees as outlined by the Pennsylvania State University Libraries reproduction policies.

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Patrons seeking advice on the availability of unpublished materials for publication should consult relevant copyright law and laws of libel.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Kenneth Burke papers, 06369, Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University.

Acquisition Information

Burke-1 was purchased from Kenneth Burke in 1974.

Burke-2 was purchased from the Kenneth Burke Literary Estate in 2005.

Burke-3 was placed on deposit in Special Collections Library in August 2002. In 2008, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries began purchase of the collection from the Kenneth Burke Literary Estate.

Processing Information

The Burke papers used to be managed as three different collections - Burke 1, Burke 2, Burke 3. Due to the high use of this collection it was decided to merge all three of these Burke collections into one, with series for each separate Burke (i.e. Series Burke 1, Burke 2 and Burke 3). An inventory was created of all of the material that was kept in filing cabinets and the files were moved to standard archival boxes. Folders were identified and kept in their original order and listing by date. There were several small collections stored on top of the filing cabinets. These collections were integrated into this collection under the Burke 3 series: Kenneth Burke letters to Stanley Weintraub, 1971-1984 (1987-0098R), gift of Stanley Weintraub, 1987-1988; On stress, its seeking Burke, Kenneth, 1897-1993 (1967-0046R), purchased from K.M. Hottle, 1967; and Kenneth Burke letter to Mr. Arrowsmith, 1964 October 1 (1982-0078R, purchased from Barry Scott, 1982. Kenneth Burke papers. Boxes 1-18 [microform], 1915-1969 was added under Burke 3 subseries: Microfilm. Burke 1 [Collection Information] contains photocopies of the index cards that used to be in binders with the collection. Additional materials with unknown provenance were retroactively accessioned and added to the collection in 2019.

Existence and Location of Copies

A microfilm copy of Burke-3 is available through interlibrary loan or for purchase. An inventory of the reels can be found in Series 3 of this finding aid.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Kenneth Burke Letters to William H. Rueckert (05464), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke Letters to Lily Batterham Burke (06347), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke correspondence with Robert Wess (07708), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke letters to Henry W. Sams, and manuscripts (08629), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke letters to Charles L. Elkins, and manuscripts (09168), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke postcard to Charles Mann (09369), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke letters to David Mandel (09424), Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Burke collection of papers, The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, The New York Public Library

Kenneth Burke letters, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Kenneth Burke Literary Trust

Subject(s)

  • Criticism -- 20th century
  • History -- 20th century
  • Religion -- 20th century
  • Rhetoric -- 20th century

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Collection Inventory

Click associated checkboxes to select items to request. When you have finished, click the Submit Request button.

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Subject(s)

  • Audio cassette
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