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The Rhetoric of Redemption

Kenneth Burke's Redemption Drama and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech

David A. Bobbitt

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech has become an icon of American public culture, its imagery and words profoundly influencing the civil rights debate. In The Rhetoric of Redemption Bobbitt applies Kenneth Burke's theory of guilt-purification-redemption in a close, critical analysis of the speech, developing and examining the implications of Burke's redemption drama in contemporary public discourse. He studies the impact of the speech over time, arguing that, while King's speech contains an inspirational vision of national redemption, it does so by omitting the real difficulties of overcoming America's racial divisions. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 156Size: 6 3/8 x 9
978-0-7425-2927-4 • Hardback • February 2004 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
978-0-7425-2928-1 • Paperback • February 2007 • $32.00 • (£22.95)
David A. Bobbitt is associate professor of communication at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia.
Chapter 1 1 Context and Critical Methodologies
Chapter 2 2 Agent and Scene
Chapter 3 3 Act: The Redemption of the Audience's Guilt
Chapter 4 4 Purification and Redemption
Chapter 5 5 Metaphoric Analysis
Chapter 6 6 Evaluation of the Theory of Guilt-Purification-Redemption
Chapter 7 7 Evaluation of "I Have a Dream" and Its Legacy
Chapter 8 8 Conclusion
Chapter 9 References
Chapter 10 Index
Chapter 11 About the Author
This is a compelling book that productively advances Kenneth Burke's theories of symbolic action, guilt-purification-redemption, and the legacy of MLK, Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech for civil rights discourse in this country. Wonderfully produced ... Bobbitt's arguments are consistent, well presented, and judicious.
KB Journal

This unique volume presents the historical context with stinging sharpness, reprising the verbal pyrotechnics and the continuing relevance of one of the most dramatic periods of American history. Those of us who lived through those apocalyptic days are astounded by Bobbitt's ear and the depth of his analysis. This book is a benediction.
Andrew King, Louisiana State University