Recent Conference Talks & Abstracts

Accepted abstract for Equipment or Living, Ghent, May 2013

“Title: Insider Dealings: Hollywood as Corporate Symbol Mis-user
“…the ethicizing of commercial methods has become so profoundly ingrained in our people that…we try to distinguish between “good” men and “bad” men in business, rather than questioning business enterprise itself” (Burke, Permanence and Change, 1984, p. 206)

One vital aspect of Media Literacy education is to advance citizen’s on-going awareness of corporate media ownerships (as permitted by the 1996 Communications Act) and those developments that, since the 1970s, have afforded greater legal legitimacy to the corporate “I”.
These related developments inevitably influenced the Hollywood business enterprise: for example, the 1999 film ‘The Insider’ which, in focusing on the contest between tobacco manufacturer Brown and Williamson and industry news leader CBS, critically examined the inner operations of corporate media. By the film’s end the CBS brand has been distinguished as humbled, broken and bowed. New-Rhetoric advances, however, encourage critical questioning of motives of a film produced by the Touchstone Division of the Disney Corporation – owner then (and still) of ABC, a long-standing CBS competitor. From this perspective, ‘The Insider’ (Seven Oscar nominations), can be regarded as a mutli-million dollar persuasive move by a rival corporate symbol-using rhetor that, in pressured times of dwindling market news share, used, to its own advantage, the best A-list symbolic resources (Director Michael Mann, Actors Al Pacino and Russell Crowe) that its own Hollywood division could muster.
This proposed talk, therefore, will have two core aims: the first is to widen the scope of New Rhetoric to include the operations of corporate media; the second aim is to further advances already made (The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film, David Blakesley (Ed), 2003) and in an area (Hollywood) of grim and ruthless hierarchies and attendant advanced technologies but about which Kenneth Burke himself kept mostly silent.”


CILECT/CARA Cape Town, 2012

alan cilect congress

CARA, Cape Town, 2012

Film and Media Inaugural Conference, London 2011


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