Kenneth Burke once remarked that he was "not a joiner of societies." Yet during the 1930s, he affiliated himself with a range of intellectual communities - including the leftists in the League of American Writers; the activist contributors to "Partisan Review", the "New Masses", the "Nation", and the "New Republic"; and the southern Agrarians and New Critics, as well as various other poets and pragmatists and thinkers. Ann George and Jack Selzer underscore the importance of these relations to Burke's development and suggest that his major writing projects of the 1930s fundamentally emerged from interactions with members of these various groups, such as writers Robert Penn Warren, Katherine Anne Porter, Allen Tate, and John Crowe Ransom; poets Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams; cutural commentators Malcolm Cowley, Mike Gold, and Edmund Wilson; and philosophers Sidney Hook and John Dewey.
George and Selzer offer a comprehensive account of four Burke texts - "Auscultation, Creation, and Revision" (1932), "Permanence and Change" (1935), "Attitudes toward History" (1937), and "The Philosophy of Literary Form" (1941) - and contend that the work from this decade is at least as compelling as his later, more widely known books. The authors examine extensive and largely unexplored archives of Burke's papers, study the magazines in which Burke's works appeared, and, most important, read him carefully in relation to the ideological conversations of the time. Offering a rich context for understanding Burke's writings from one of his most prolific periods, George and Selzer argue that significant Burkean concepts - such as identification and dramatism - found in later texts ought to be understood as rooted in his 1930s commitments.