Complete Story

GEORGE, Ann and SELZER, Jack

Spring 2003, pages 47-68

What Happened at the First American Writers' Congress? Kenneth Burke's "Revolutionary Symbolism in America"

Abstract: Burke's famous performance at the First American Writers' Congress in 1935 should be understood in relation to its occasion. The Congress was held to enlist the services of writers in creating a broad Popular Front, or People's Front, to encourage social change, so Burke's recommendation that "the people" ought to be substituted for "the worker" in Communist Party symbolism. that "propaganda by inclusion" ought to succeed "propaganda by exclusion". was actually in moderate keeping with the Congress' broad aim. Though his recommendation was resisted by some, Burke was actually not so much marginalized by the Congress as identified with its controversies.

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