Contact Information


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  He is currently editing a critical edition of Burke's unpublished 'Symbolic of Motives,' which Burke allowed him to copy when he was fortunate enough to study with Burke during his Visiting Mellon Professorship at the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.


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

Recent Scholarship

Journal Articles (2012 - Present)

"God Is a Circle Whose Center Is Everywhere: Kenneth Burke & Charles Williams, Langauge & Love." Listening: Journal of Communication Ethics, Religion, and Culture 50.3 (2015) 199 - 207.

"Unforgetting a Tradition: Kenneth Burke, Karl Marx, and Aristotelian Naturalism." Russian Journal of Communication 7.1 (January 2015) 116-124.

"The Meaning of the Motivorum's Motto: Ad bellum purificandum to Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore." KB Journal (Kenneth Burke Society Journal), Fall 2012.

Book Chapters (2012 - Present)
"The Meaning of the Motivorum's Motto: Ad bellum purificandum to Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore." Best of the Independent Journals in Rhetoric and Composition 2012. Edited by Julia Voss, Beverly Moss, Steve Parks, Brian Bailie, Heather Christiansen, and Stephanie Ceraso. Anderson, SC: Parlor Press, 2014. (Word Count approximately 15,000.)

Kenneth Burke Society Distinguished Service Award, 2017.

Editorial Boards
Editorial Board, KB Journal (Kenneth Burke Society Journal), 2006-17

Offices Held
Kenneth Burke Society (one of three Founders)

Duquesne University, Assessment Committee (2014-17)

Duquesne University, Search Committee, Co-Chair (1994-2015-every search)

Duquesne University, Library Acquisition (1989-91, 1997, 2005-07, 2010-15)

Duquesne University, Program Assessment Committee (2009-10, 2010-11)

Duquesne University, Ph.D. Comprehensives Committee (2004-06, 2008-15)