Happy ‘pub’ days: Jensen, Ratcliffe, Sayet

By Kristen LaRue-Sandler — June 1, 2022

Cover images of books by Kyle Jensen, Krista Ratcliffe, and Madeline Sayet


Three faculty members in the Department of English announce new books recently published or imminently forthcoming. The output ranges from mythic to theoretical to personal, while spanning centuries, continents, and the divides between us.

'Kenneth Burke’s Weed Garden: Refiguring the Mythic Grounds of Modern Rhetoric' (Penn State University Press, 2022)

Kyle Jensen’s latest monograph on the work of rhetorician Kenneth Burke is slated for release in June. From the publisher:

  • "Since its publication in 1950, Kenneth Burke’s 'A Rhetoric of Motives' has been one of the most influential texts of theory and criticism. Critics have discovered in its pages concepts that reveal new dimensions of human motivation. And yet, despite its obvious genius, critics have interpreted 'A Rhetoric of Motives' as a collection of provocations rather than a systematic treatment of rhetoric.

    In this book, Kyle Jensen argues that the coherence in Burke’s thought has yet to be fully appreciated. Drawing on unpublished drafts and voluminous correspondence, he reconstructs Burke’s drafting and revision process for 'A Rhetoric of Motives' as well as its recently discovered second volume, 'The War of Words.' Jensen’s extensive archival analysis reveals that Burke relied on the concept of myth to draw together the loose ends in his argument. For Burke, all general theories of rhetoric are formed and structured using mythic images and terms.

    By exploring what Burke added and omitted, and by putting his writing process into the context of daily life after the Second World War―including Burke’s attempts to clear the weeds from his Andover farm―Jensen sheds new light on the key problems that Burke encountered and the methods he used to overcome them. 'Kenneth Burke’s Weed Garden' is essential for those who study Burke and the tradition of modern rhetoric that he helped found."

Jensen is professor of English in writing, rhetorics and literacies and director of Writing Programs at ASU.

'Rhetorical Listening in Action: A Concept-Tactic Approach' (Parlor Press, 2022)

In May, Krista Ratcliffe and Kyle Jensen launched their co-written volume in the Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms series that offers a practical rhetorical guide for writers. From the publisher:

  • "'Rhetorical Listening in Action: A Concept-Tactic Approach' aims to cultivate writers who can listen across differences in preparation for thinking critically, communicating, and acting across those differences. Krista Ratcliffe and Kyle Jensen offer a rhetorical education centered on rhetorical listening as it inflects other rhetorical concepts, such as agency, rhetorical situation, identification, myth, and rhetorical devices.

    'Rhetorical Listening in Action' spans classical and contemporary rhetoric, reading key concepts through rhetorical listening and supported by scholarship in rhetoric and composition, feminist studies, critical race studies, and intersectionality theory. The book expands on how we think about and negotiate difference and the factors that mediate social relations and competing cultural logics. Along the way, Ratcliffe and Jensen associate creative and heuristic tactics with clearly defined concepts to give all writers methods for listening rhetorically to and understanding alternative viewpoints.

    For writers new to the concepts of rhetorical listening, four appendices show how these concepts illuminate rhetoric, language, discourse, argument, writing processes, research, and style."

Ratcliffe is Foundation Professor and chair of the Department of English at ASU.

'Where We Belong' (Bloomsbury / Methuen Drama, 2022)

Also this May, Madeline Sayet’s solo touring show was published in book form in the U.K. as part of the press’s “Acting Essentials” series. A U.S. edition is coming in August. From the publisher:

  • "I've been trying to remember a story.
    Can you help me?
    A long time ago our ancestors told it to us.
    I think it has to do with where we belong.

    In 2015, Mohegan Theater Maker Madeline Sayet travelled to England to pursue a PhD in Shakespeare, but her voyage across the ocean became an unexpected journey of transformation. Riding the spirit wind of her Mohegan ancestors who crossed the Atlantic in the 1700s on diplomatic missions to protect her people, 'Where We Belong' is a search for belonging in a globalized world. It is at once a rich investigation into the impulses that divide and connect us as people, but it is also about a wolf that learns how to become a bird and fly."

Sayet is clinical assistant professor in the Department of English at ASU’s literature program, where she is also an affiliate of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.