Summer 2008, 38:3, pages 259-282
Professor Burke's "Bennington Project"
ABSTRACT: Kenneth Burke claimed in 1952 that he viewed his rhetorical theory and critical method as a "Bennington Project," a sign that he attributed a measure of his intellectual success to teaching at pragmatist-inspired Bennington College. Studying Burke's teaching at Bennington can help scholars to better understand his theory and method because Burke taught undergraduates his own critical reading practices, ones that he believed heightened students' awareness of terministic screens and deepened their appreciation for the consequences of human symbol-use. Burke's teaching practices and his comments on student essays reveal that he taught indexing and charting to his undergraduates because he believed everyone can and should use them throughout their lives to examine-and, when necessary, revise-the often unexpressed assumptions that propel so much human activity toward competition and, ultimately, physical and social destruction.