Notes for My Seminar Paper  

Partially because I have not posted here in awhile, and partially because my research notes are a little spread out while I have been frantically trying to finish up my Spring term here at the University, I am going to post some brief notes about the seminar paper for my figures class. I know I can always find them here, a place where they won't be lost. Also, I need to translate them from the hurried notes I made in paper during my earlier meeting with the professor into actual print before the float away back into the ether of unremembered thoughts.
Kenneth Burke, a rhetorician(?), talks about four master tropes: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. He does not create a new typology of figures like past rhetoricians (Cicero, Longinus, Puttenham) because he feels that every figure, which could have potentially infinite separate names, spring from these four basic types. There seems to be some kind of correlation, if a distant one, to Giambattista Vico who had postulated that, before early humans had language, there were four major mental figures that were the foundation of the rest of the figures commonly identified. Whereas Vico seems to be doing some kind of anthropology through the study of figures, I think Burke avoids theorizing about language origins the way Vico does.

In any event, broadly speaking Metaphor identifies one thing for another (A=B), Metonymy has one thing that is part of a whole ( B (A)), Synecdoche has one thing result from another (A --> B), and Irony has one thing that does not equal the other (A =/= B).

After talking with the professor about my idea, which has to do with hyperlinking, he suggests that I should get at Burke's purposes for proposing these four tropes. I should tell why these four tropes are something that is useful--the "correspondences in drawing out those tropes and larger issues. Specifically, I should address "perspective, reduction, representation, and dialectics." I should "talk about these four substitutions, which represents different perspectives from which to work.

As for myself, is there anything I can do with 1337 speak? Can I do anything with the forms of certain websites, especially blogs themselves. This might have to be looked into and thought about more. Is there something about RSS feeds, or a general kind of aggregation?
The Professor, (aka Dr. Brown Shoes), recommended that I review the essays that were presented in class very carefully, offering his caveat that I Burkian study can be particular hard. Yet, I am hoping that my rudimentary knowledge of the Net will help all this study go more easily; think "spoonful of sugar." Now, I am going to check out the required Burke books, after a little more research into the appropriate journal articles. Just as a friendly note, this might be the last blog for a week or more; the seminar papers will always take precedence.

04 June 2004
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