Complete Story


Winter 2004, pages 5-28

Burke on Drugs

Abstract: This essay contributes to the growing body of historical research on Kenneth Burke by considering his work as a drug researcher for the Bureau of Social Hygiene in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The research he conducted under the watch of his conservative boss, Colonel Arthur Woods, reveals a resistant worker who effectively became hooked on the question of bodies and habits even as he at times explicitly rejected the aims and methods of his boss. Burke's rearticulations of efficiency and piety help show how the Bureau offered new vantages on the body, effectively broadening his critical compass.

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