Methodology for the Analysis
Kenneth Burke, “The rhetorical theorist and critic who probably has had the greatest impact on rhetorical criticism as it is practiced today” (¬Foss, 2009, 63), revealed to the world the methodology of cluster analysis in an attempt to gain understanding about a rhetor’s worldview. In Samy Charnine’s nondiscursive paintings, words seem to explode off of the canvas and out at anyone who is viewing his work. The method of cluster analysis involves collection of these words, or key terms, and examination of what elements seem to cluster around them resulting in four steps of the method. Burke believed that the terms that one is able to gather from a discursive or nondiscursive artifact formulate that rhetor’s terminsitic screen, and become a way of showing to others whether consciously or subconsciously, the values, morals, and things that the rhetor holds to be of importance in life. Both verbal as well as visual communication brought out in an artifact can be of equal importance (Mukarovsky, 1977). Charnine’s paintings take a supportive stance on sustainability to be further elucidated through three steps.
Step one consists of finding the key terms that stand out in an artifact based on their frequency and intensity. Any word that continually comes to mind upon examination of the rhetor’s work is going to be important. An anaphora is such a rhetorical device that uses repetition to drill into the critic the idea being presented. In an argumentative ecological essay by Wallace Stegner he explained, “We need to demonstrate our acceptance of the natural world, including ourselves…we need the spiritual refreshment that being natural can produce”(Stegner, 2000, 534). In this case, the frequency of saying “we need” over and over makes it a key term in his essay. However, just because a word does not show up frequently does not make it any more important than say one word that epitomizes the entire view or argument of the rhetor even if it only shows up once. In images like these paintings, anything from textures, line thickness, color, or contrast can evoke a feeling and therefore be an important word. The four main terms observable in Charnine’s selected paintings are nature/environment, containment/preservation reality, and humanistic setting.
Step two involves taking those key words and charting clusters around them. The list of words that the critic will come up with maybe closely linked to the key terms or they may have a cause-effect type relationship implying that one may depend on another. Examination of the artifact will reveal exactly what all of these terms are intending to do or more specifically how they are trying to grab the critic.
The last step is to discover an explanation for the artifact. Analyzing patterns and what is linked together makes for visualization of the rhetor’s worldview, and in this case, Charnine’s view on sustainability. In some cases, the critic may come up with what is known as an...