Terministic Screens

The concept of terministic screens originated with Kenneth Burke in his 1965 article “Terministic Screens,” which was later published as one of the five summarizing essays in Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method in 1966. Terministic screens are conceptual vocabularies used to name and interpret the world, which includes the material phenomena and forces studied by science as well as the products or insights of human relations and thought. Terministic screens consist of the words we use to represent reality, and as selections from among many conceptual vocabularies, they can lead to different conclusions as to what reality actually is. Terms “screen” or frame the world by selecting a portion of it—the part that can be named with the particular choice ...

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