№ 9 2020

УДК / UDK: 82(091)

Author: Corey Anton
About the author:

Corey Anton (PhD, Professor, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan USA)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Drawing mainly upon the thinking of Kenneth Burke, this essay overviews a few psychological functions performed within dramatic works of art. It shows how dramatic works of art (e.g. novels, plays, films, and even TV shows) operate as subtle modes of applied psychology: they offer different types of therapeutic benefits for those who produce such works and also for those readers who read them and/or audience members who witness them. I try to bring out how modes of catharsis as well as means of transcendence are afforded by dramatic form within art. Even more specifically stated, I review some of Burke’s ruminations upon his own semiautobiographical novel, Towards a Better Life, and I outline how dramatic works of art provide adequate symbolic distance for sizing up one’s life situations and for facing various challenges that can otherwise be too difficult to face head-on. Through symbolic and artistic maneuvers, which enable kinds of identification, authors and audience members learn to face their demons and gain new psychological resolves and/or vistas of self-understanding.

Keywords: Kenneth Burke, dramatic form, catharsis, transcendence, Greek mythology, formal causality, final causality, Perseus myth, popular culture.

Anton, Corey. “On the Nonlinearity of Human Communication: Insatiability, Context, Form.” The Atlantic Journal of Communication 15:1 (2007): 79 –102.

Anton, Corey. Sources of Significance: Worldly Rejuvenation and Neo-Stoic Heroism. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2010.

Appelo, Tim. “The Truth About  John  Hughes  and  Dede Allen.”  Thompson on Hollywood, 2010. Online at the_truth_about_john_hughes_and_dede_allen

Burke, Kenneth. Counter-Statement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1968.

Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1966.

Burke, Kenneth. “On Stress, Its Seeking.” Klausner, Samuel Z., ed. Why Man Takes Chances: Studies in Stress-Seeking. New York: Anchor Books, 1968: 75 –103.

Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form. Berkeley, CA: University   of California Press, 1974.

Burke, Kenneth. The Rhetoric of Religion. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1961.

Burke, Kenneth. Towards a Better Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1982.

Fey, Tina. Bossypants. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

Gass, William H. Habitations of the Word. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1985.

Gusdorf, Georges. Speaking (La Parolé). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1965.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: Extensions of Man: Critical Edition. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, 2003.

Rueckert, William. H. Kenneth Burke and the Drama of Human Relations. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1982.