ENGL104 Lecture Notes - Martin Bormann

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Published on 16 Oct 2011
School
University of Waterloo
Department
English
Course
ENGL104
Fantasy Themed Criticism
March-04-11
11:17 AM
Created by Ernest G. Bormann, designed to provide insights into the shared worldview of groups
Started with Bales in the 1950s: discovered the process of group fantasising or dramatising as a type
of communication that occurs in groups
Bormann expanded Bales' notion into symbolic convergence theory and fantasy themed criticism
that can be applied to small groups and rhetoric in which themes function dramatically to connect
audiences with messages
o Sees a connection between fantasies and arguments; shared fantasies provide the
groundwork or framework for arguments. Arguments require a set of common assumptions
about the proper way to provide good reasons to support an argument
Symbolic convergence theory - close to Kenneth Burke's consubstantiality
o Based on two assumptions
o Communication creates reality: reality changes as symbols for talking about it changes
o Symbols create reality for individuals and the individuals' meaning for symbols can converge
to create a shared reality or community consciousness
o Convergence refers to "the way two or more private symbolic worlds incline toward each
other, come more closely together, or overlap during certain processes of communication
o Convergence also means consensus or general agreement on subjective meanings
o Evidence of symbolic convergence can be discerned through frequent mention of a theme,
narrative or analogy in a variety of messages
When people have a shared fantasy theme, they charge that theme with meanings and emotions
that can be set off by an agreed upon cryptic symbolic cue. Serve as allusions to previously shared
fantasies
Basic unit of analysis of symbolic convergence theory and fantasy theme criticism is fantasy theme
o Fantasy is "the creative and imaginative interpretation of events". Designed to capture the
constructed nature of the theme
o Fantasy theme is the means through which the interpretation is accomplished in
communication. Word, phrase or statement that interprets events in the past, envisions
events in the future, or depicts current events that are removed in time or space from the
activities of the group. Tells a story about a group's experience that constitutes a constructed
reality for the participants
Fantasy theme depicts characters, actions and settings that are removed from an actual current
group situation in time and place
Fantasies characterised by artistic and organised qualities. Designed to create interpretation of
experience
Fantasy themes that describe the world from the group's perspective: setting themes (statements
that depict where the action is taking place), character themes (describe agents or actors in the
drama, ascribe qualities to them), action themes (also called plotlines, deal with the actions)
o When similar scenarios involving particular settings, characters and action themes are shared
by members of a community, they form a fantasy type
Fantasy type: stock scenario that encompasses several related fantasy themes.
o Encourages groups to fit new events or experiences into familiar patterns
Rhetorical vision, second primary unit of analysis
o Rhetorical vision is a "unified putting together of the various shared fantasies"
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