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Richard H. Thames, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Communication & Rhetorical Studies

College Hall 311
Phone: 412.396.5077


Ph.D., Rhetoric, University of Pittsburgh, 1979
M.Div., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1972
B.A., Psychology, Rhodes College, 1969

A founder of the Kenneth Burke Society, Thames helped organize the original Burke conference in Philadelphia in 1984 and the centennial conference in Pittsburgh in 1996 at Duquesne. He edited the Society's Newsletter for over a decade and now serves on the Editorial Board of its online KB Journal.  He has also served as an Associate Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1998-2001 as well as a reader for numerous journals.  Thames is recognized for interpreting Burke in terms of the Aristotelian organicism and naturalism Burke encountered at Columbia University in 1916.  He is currently editing a critical edition of Burke's unpublished 'symbolic of Motives,' which Burke allowed him to copy when he was fortunate enough to study with Burke during his Visiting Mellon Professorship at the University of Pittsburgh in 1974; no further copies came to light until Burke's death in 1993.   In conjunction with his studies of Burke, Thames' interests include the rhetoric of religion and the rhetoric of science & social science; the rhetoric of the marketplace and the rhetoric of popular culture; hermeneutics and criticism.  He seeks to explore the rhetorical influence of ideas within and across historical periods, tracing the intellectual lineage of thinkers and examining how their ideas shape, maintain, and change beliefs in intellectual and popular culture.


-Writings of Kenneth Burke, 1968-1985,' in The Legacy of Kenneth Burke, Trevor Melia & Herbert Simons (eds). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.  Updates Armin Paul Frank's definitive bibliography in Critical Responses to Kenneth  Burke, 1924-1966, William H. Rueckert (ed), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969.  Incorporated with updates into the "Premium Bibliographies" on the KB Journal website for Society members.

-'Selected Bibliography of Critical Responses to Kenneth Burke, 1968-1985,' in The Legacy of Kenneth Burke. Updates Rueckert's secondary bibliography in Critical Responses. Incorporated with updates into the "Premium Bibliographies" on the KB Journal website for Society members.

-Nature's Physician: The Metabiology of Kenneth Burke,' in Kenneth Burke & the 21st Century, Bernard Brock (ed.) Albany: SUNY Press, 1999.

-The Gordian Not: Untangling the Motivorum. Part One: Seeking the Symbolic; Part Two: Situating the Symbolic.'  KB Journal (Kenneth Burke Society online Journal) Spring 2007.

-The Meaning of the Motivorum's Motto: Ad bellum purificandum to Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.' KB Journal, forthcoming.

Political Economy,' Encyclopedia of Identity, Ronald Jackson (ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010.

-Preaching What We Practice: Course Design Based on the Psychology of Form,' in A Humanistic Critique of Education: Teaching & Learning as Symbolic Action, Peter M. Smuddee (ed).  West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2010.

Persuasion's Domain: An Introduction to Rhetoric & Human Affairs. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt. 2000.


Communication and the Marketplace
Communication and Popular Culture
Communication, Science, and Revolution
History of Communication
Philosophy of Communication**
Political Communication
Rhetoric and Hermeneutics**
Rhetoric of the Humanities**
Rhetoric of the Marketplace**
Rhetorical Theory*


Professional Affiliations

Kenneth Burke Society
National Communication Association
Eastern Communication Association
Southern States Communication Association
Semiotic Society of America
Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences
Society for Philosophy and Existential Phenomenology


Professional: Marquis Who's Who

National: Rockefeller Fellowship, 1969-70; George F. Baker Scholarship, 1965-69; National Merit Finalist, 1965.

Graduate: Fred McFeely Rogers Prize in Biblical Studies, 1970; Michael Wilson Memorial Homiletic Prize, Jennie Rigg Barbour Memorial Prize, James Purdy Scholarship, Thomas Jamison Scholarship, 1972.

College:    William O. Schumacher Award, 1966; Editor of Sou-wester (college newspaper), 1968-69; Executive Editor of Ginger (college literary magazine), 1969.