The Toilet Paper<colon> Burke, Bakhtin and the Rhetoric of Poop

m 1+ points - Newb


Poop is a fertile field for academic research and exploration. Strikingly little non-medical research has been done on the subject given the fact that every human being in every culture across all time has pooped. As of May 3, 2008 a comprehensive academic database search on the word "Sleep" revealed 34,576 articles. "Eat" revealed 46,534, while "Poop" came in dead last with a mere 326 articles, most of which dealt with ships and the "Poop Deck." Even taking the scientific word "Feces" and conducting a search revealed only 4,350 articles, nearly all of which were medical/biological in nature. While these numbers obviously were not gathered in a true empirical manner and hence do not carry much scientific weight, it is apparent that given the three basic functions of human life, poop definitely gets the least academic press. This is likely because poop carries with it a social taboo that the other basic human functions do not.

How did this happen? Why is it that it is perfectly acceptable to tell a co-worker that you ate like a horse at lunch, but not that you just pooped like a horse? Why can you say that you slept for 9 whole hours, but not that you spent a solid 25 minutes in the bathroom pooping and reading Newsweek? Poop has been constructed historically as a taboo subject. It is not talked about in polite society and many people would like those around them to function under the impression that they do not, in fact, poop. This paper will explore the rhetorical symbolism of poop in Western culture and will hope to scratch the surface of exploring what is surely one of the least approached subjects in academic research.

Historical Construction of Poop

Poop is dirty. Poop makes you sick. Touching poop makes you sick. The smell of poop makes you sick. These are all ideas that have been widely held in Western culture since the Industrial Revolution (Johnson, 2006.) Miasma theory, which states that sicknesses are smell-borne, was the standard belief in Europe up until the cholera outbreaks in 1854. When cholera hit London, killing over ten thousand people, the public reaction was to do anything possible to get rid of the smell of poop. People believed that cholera came from the smell of sewage, and the pre-sanitation-system city was ripe with the smell. Ironically people were panicking, throwing all their sewage into the river where it would cease to smell and hence cease to make people sick. Of course this is ironic because cholera is a water-borne disease and throwing poop into the water supply only made the epidemic intensify (Johnson, 2006.)

Miasma theory spurred the idea that poop needs to just disappear. Any indication of poop, mention of poop, smell of poop, sight of poop, were all contaminating. Poop was the universal point of disgust and the revealer of the reality that people are animals. This was a horrifying notion to the elite of the time (LaPorte, 1978.) Victorian British were facing the reality of the rise of the middle class. In order to stay the elite, they needed to differentiate themselves more and more from the rising bourgeoisie. This is in keeping with Burke's theory of identification through division, which states that to present what they are, people must identify what they are not. This drove the Victorian elite to come up with a bizarrely contrived set of social etiquette rules. Knowledge of the rules was one's passkey into the upper echelons. Ignorance of the rules outted a person as low-born and crass. Among the "rules" were a set about bodily functions and poop. For instance, ladies did not poop anywhere but in their own homes. If a lady was at a party and had to poop, she would have to go home to do so. It was so extreme that ladies would sometimes take solutions to make them selves poop before parties, and then not eat again in order to avoid having to poop before arriving home (Praeger, 2007.)

A lasting outcome of the Victorian poop sensibilities is the flush-toilet and the private bathroom. Of course, this is also a result of the realization that miasma theory is not reality and an increased awareness of the need for a sewage system that keeps poop away from drinking water. Pragmatically, there are a myriad of ways that sewer systems could have come into existence and into the home. Socially, the Victorian dictated that they would enter the world as privately as possible. The flush toilet allowed Victorians to enter a room alone, do their business, and flush away any evidence of the "crime." No poop, little or no poop smell (compared to the chamber pot option,) and no evidence of the poop leaving the building at any point in the future. It was all underground and out of sight. This allowed the elite Victorians (elite only, as indoor flush toilets were quite expensive) to create the illusion that they did not poop (Praeger, 2007.) This, by Burke's theory, separated them from the lower classes. If the lower classes revealed their base animalness by pooping in public outhouses, using chamber pots which then needed to be disposed of, or just going somewhere outdoors, the Victorian elite could consider this behavior "other" and proclaim them selves more civilized and refined than the non-flush-poopers (Burke, 1969.)

Bourdieu's work "Distinction" helps flesh out how the Victorians decided what was beneath them and what was "elite." Among the many dichotomies he puts forth, Bourdieu articulates the juxtaposition of the vulgar and the rare. The vulgar are those things that are associated with the masses. Loudness, tans from working in the sun, crass language and bawdiness, and certain styles of dress were all indicators to the Victorians that a person was of low stature. Given this, ladies stayed out of the sun and tried to keep their skin as white as possible to avoid the brown skin associated with outdoor labor. Conversations were polite and formal, and swearing would not be tolerated. By observing the masses and doing exactly the opposite of what they did, the elite managed to raise them selves to a "higher" level of living and consider them selves better than those who were not privy to their standards of conduct (Bourdieu, 1984.) Pooping, of course, was dirty and animalistic. The masses pooped without complete privacy, their plays were peppered with fart jokes, and their neighborhoods smelled of poop. This constitutes vulgarity, with which the elite wanted nothing to do. The rarity would be a home that was free of any indication that its residents pooped, and social interactions that constructed their participants as poop-free. This is what the Victorians tired their hardest to portray.

To fully understand the power (and hilarity) of the Victorians' attempt to distance them selves from the masses, it is important to understand Burke's theory of identification through division more thoroughly. First, identification through division is an inherent tool in socialization. Hence it is with people from the first time they are told "no, don't do that." By stating what people, usually children, are not to do something, the notion of socialization through the negative is established. This continues into the deeper notion of moralization. Of the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament, eight of them are most commonly written as "thou shalt not" (ex. Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain, Thou shalt not commit adultery, etc.) People are taught morality based on what is not moral to do, moreso than what is moral to do. From this comes the idea that we are who we are based on who we are not.

Here the power of the rhetorical construction of poop becomes apparent. Everyone poops. Everyone in the past, present, and future has pooped and will poop. This is a basic medical fact, and is undeniable. Yet we spend millions of dollars on products and infrastructure to create the illusion of pooplessness. Poop is the universal leveler. It is one of the three things (the other two being eating and sleeping) that cannot be "divided out" through Burke's theory of identification through division. No class of people can claim to be better than another class because they have managed to find a way to not poop. The paranoia people have about getting "found out" as poopers indicates just how strongly we have been socialized to distance ourselves from the lowliness and dirtiness that is poop.

One fun twist on the Burkian notion of identification through division as it relates to poop can be seen in the South Park character "Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo." Mr. Hanky is, in fact, a cartoon poop with eyes, a mouth, and arms. He wears a Santa hat as he is, after all, a Christmas Poo. Though he has since become a recurring character and a bit of an underground cultural phenomenon, Mr. Hanky's first appearance on South Park was in an episode about a school Christmas play. In the episode, all the adult characters were fighting over was offensive about the play. The play could have no mention of Jesus, no Christmas trees, no Hanukkah lights, no songs relating to any holiday, etc etc. In true South Park style the whole scenario went completely over the top and the play turned into an abstract expressionistic dance with an original score by Philip Glass. As the characters realize that they have created an abomination of a play, out comes Mr. Hanky to spread Christmas cheer! All the adults are unanimously disgusted by the fact that they are facing a talking poop. Those who had been fighting and arguing over hundreds of inane details about who is offended by what finally can come together over their universal revulsion by Mr. Hanky. Here, those who had been staking their identity on that over which they disagreed (identifying through division) are finally reconciled by all agreeing on one thing. The quickness with which Mr. Hanky unifies the group speaks to the power of the symbol of poop. It is so universally reviled that it erases all other differences.

Poop also represents contamination. Having poop in the streets indicated that the neighborhood is dirty. While there are others, poop is a prime indicator of that which must be purified from society. In "The Rhetoric of Hitler's Battle," Burke discusses the notion of rhetorical purification. For Hitler, the Jews were a contaminating force to the German people. By "cleaning" Germany of Jews, Germans would have less "filth" to contend with and a higher level of purity in their country (Burke, 1939.) Here, the framing of Hitler's anti-Semitic argument bears resemblance to ideas about poop. Wanting to rid a place of poop, wanting to better people's lives by keeping them far away from the contaminating force of poop: these are the arguments made for many poop-related rituals and norms. Hence while the comparison is itself disturbing to make, Hitler's rhetoric encouraging the genocide of the Jews uses the same rhetorical devices and notions of purification as do arguments for keeping poop closeted and hidden.

In his book "Poop Culture," Dave Praeger presents the twelve meanings of poop. The book is a popular press book and is not decidedly academic (though is extremely informative and well-researched.) Despite this, and given the aforementioned dearth of academic resources on poop, I would like to present these twelve meanings as an excellent foundation for the beginnings of academic research around the subject. They provide distinct ways to look at poop-related events in society and to begin to address the higher symbolism of poop.

The Twelve Meanings of Poop:

  1. Poop exposes the lowness of the high
  2. Poop underscores the lowness of the low
  3. Poop makes a potent insult
  4. Poop represents contamination
  5. Embracing your own poop underscores your contempt for others
  6. Poop communicates protest
  7. Poop represents the mundane
  8. Poop represents the limitations of the body
  9. Poop represents vulnerability
  10. Poop represents intimacy
  11. Poop represents savagery
  12. Poop represents negativity at its extreme (Praeger, 2007)

These twelve meanings are relatively self-explanatory, but I shall go through each of them with a brief, colloquial example for clarification:

  1. Poop exposes the lowness of the high: If a high school student overhears a teacher pooping in the bathroom, that teacher would likely "lose face" in front of that student. If word spread, the teacher may have a hard time maintaining authority

  2. Poop underscores the lowness of the low: Reports of neglected children are often in the news with their living conditions described. If the children have inadequate bathroom situations and are forced into proximity to poop, it is particularly horrifying to the public

  3. Poop makes a potent insult: "You played like shit" uses a comparison to poop to inform someone that their playing (concert, sports, etc) was particularly awful.

  4. Poop represents contamination: A little bit of poop, no matter how innocuous, can be seen to "contaminate" a much larger area than biologically realistic. Any Seinfeld watcher will remember the episode where George brought a book into the bathroom at Brentano's Bookstore. He was then forced to buy the book after it had been "flagged" as having been in the bathroom, and went to great lengths to return it, gift it, etc, all with no success, as the book had been contaminated by merely entering the bathroom.

  5. Embracing your own poop underscores your contempt for others: While "you smell like shit" is an insult, "you smell like my shit" is a greater insult. By invoking one's own poop, the power of the breaking of the taboo (admitting one poops) lends its power to the insult.

  6. Poop communicates protest: Individuals will occasionally express their unhappiness at their situations through their poop. Often in prisons or mental institutions, residents may refuse to poop or may poop in inappropriate situations to display their displeasure (Praeger, 2007.)

  7. Poop represents the mundane: Often in movies (usually comedies -- dramas rarely lower their standards to include poop) the notion of just having an ordinary day is represented by showing he character the bathroom, presumably pooping. This scene is usually followed by some inane occurrence, underscoring the bizarreness of that occurrence by the preceding pooping scene reminding the viewer that this is a day like any other.

  8. Poop represents the limitations of the body: "I was so scared I almost shit myself" is a way of expressing that one was so scared that her body nearly reached the limits of its ability to control itself, and she nearly released poop. This expresses exactly how scared the individual was.

  9. Poop represents vulnerability: When mid-poop, there is no way to run. Stopping is nearly impossible. If someone is caught off guard while pooping, there is likely an extra sense of panic given that it is so difficult to escape from the pooping position. This makes people (and many animals, in fact) particularly vulnerable when pooping.

  10. Poop represents intimacy: When someone lets you in on their little secret that they do, in fact, poop, that represents a level of intimacy. This can be seen in good friends discussing poop issues, and husbands and wives farting in front of each other or leaving the door open when they poop. Admitting one's poopiness to another indicates a level of trust and intimacy.

  11. Poop represents savagery: Often used when encountering foreign cultures, the pooping practices of others, if they do not match the West's, can be seen as an indicator of savagery and a position lower on the evolutionary ladder.

  12. Poop represents negativity at its extreme: If you can still love someone when you find out that they poop or experience their poop, you can love them through anything. Once the poop level has been reached, there is no lower place to go.

Again, while these meanings are not properly academically founded per say, they are a good start for a field that has been strikingly ignored to date.

Historical transgressions

As with any social norm, the rules around poop are generally held to yet are occasionally transgressed for the purposes of underscoring a statement or instigating shock to make people think differently about a given subject. Throughout history into present day, such transgressions have shed light on the symbolic power of poop and have brought the subject to the foreground when it would have otherwise been ignored. Among the transgressions to be discussed in this paper are Carnivale and the Carnivalesque as seen through Bakhtin's reading of Rabelais, and the use of poop in art.

Historically, Carnivale was a time of bawdiness, revelry, and an inversion of the rules. Carnivale came right before Lent and offered a chance for the masses to "blow off steam" and release the pressures of living the rest of the year under very strict rules of conduct as dictated by the Catholic Church. Interestingly, although Carnivale may have seemed like a complete liberation from the rules, it was still inherently an institutionally sanctioned event. First of all, the rules that were flipped were the governing rules of the time. Hence, simply by inverting the power structure, the power structure still existed, just upside-down. Secondly, the event was sanctioned by the church. Because of this, it was still occurring under the auspices of the establishment and hence was really just another "rule" of the times (Bakhtin, 1936.) Interestingly, Carnivale was not as prevalent in Protestant cultures. Perhaps this is because Catholicism has a clearly hierarchical structure that lends itself to being flipped upside down. Protestantism is founded on a more horizontal structure, hence flipping it would be considerably less dramatic.

From Carnivale, however, sprang the Carnivalesque. While Carnivale was rooted inherently in a time and place, the Carnivalesque took the inversion of the rules and dislodged it from the sanctioned Carnivale event. Rabelais, a sixteenth century writer re-made famous by Bakhtin's analysis of his writings, wrote grotesque stories founded on the inverted norms of Carnivale. Most notable, Pantagruel and Gargantua tells the story of two giants, a father and a son respectively, who come to a French town. They are revolting to the townspeople, as their primary activities are eating and pooping. Poop is part of what Bakhtin calls the "lower body stratum" which includes sexual organs and orifices used for pee and poop (Bakhtin, 1936.) All of these functions were (and are) social taboos and hence the giants' overtness about these matters was shocking at the time and constituted Carnivalesque themes.

Rabelais' characters did not merely mention poop, but went into extreme detail about their adventures in pooping. Below is a quote from Rableais, taken from an English translation of the text within "Rabelais and his world" by Bakhtin. This is the final statement of Gargantua, the young giant, about the various items he attempted to use to wipe his rear end. This was not a mere few lines in the book, but a solid several paragraphs where Gargantua goes into great detail about over twenty items he tried before finding the ideal wiping tool:

"But to conclude: I affirm and maintain that the paragon arse-cloth is the neck of a plump, downy goose, provided you hold her head between your legs. Take my word of honor on this score and try it for yourself. You will experience a most marvelously pleasant sensation in the region of your scutnozzle, as much because of the fluffy under plumage as because the bird's warmth, tempering the bumgut and the rest of the intestines, actually reaches your heart and brain (Bakhtin, 1936.)"

Even for a person quite comfortable with poop-talk, the notion of going into great detail about wiping one's rear with a goose is slightly off-putting. The whole tirade about rear-wiping can be seen as a listing of things which the author looks to insult (Bakhtin, 1936.) Since the notion of wiping one's bum with an item implies that item is henceforth disgraced, it is interesting to look at the items used within the framework of the Carnivalesque. The first set of items used, Bakhtin observes, are all members of the upper body stratum -- a scarf and a hat are two of the items. This relegation of the upper body stratum to the task of wiping the lower body stratum flips the "disgustingness" of the body from the lower being most repulsive to the upper being most repulsive, given the thinking that the hat and scarf might again be worn after their defacement (Bakhtin, 1936.) This typifies the Carnivalesque -- that which is down becomes up, that which is acceptable becomes unacceptable.

As the power of the church begin to lessen, Carnivale proper became less and less prevalent. The Carnivalesque, however, that spirit of Carnivale that turns the world topsy-turvy, lives on. The Carnivalesque is an irony, an embracing of that which we normally try to hide, a flagrant acceptance of that which we really know is true. Moments of the Carnivalesque arise in celebrations like Mardi Gras, where commoners dress like Kings and people who are normally reserved in their daily lives give them selves permission to go somewhat crazy.

The Carnivalesque is alive and well in some modern art movements. Perhaps beginning with Duchamp in 1917, many artists have attempted to bring to the foreground our culture's fear of poop and the lower body stratum. Duchamp's piece "Fountain" consisted of a standard porcelain urinal purchased form a plumbing supply shop. The piece was signed "R. Mutt 1917" and submitted to an art show where, despite the premise of the show being that it was un-adjudicated, the show's sponsors refused to put it on display. The piece horrified many in the art world with the implication that anything related to the functions of the lower body stratum could be considered beautiful and be shown in the same manner as a Picasso or a Monet. Despite some critics' observation that if you remove the function from the item, the item itself has beautiful lines and structure, very few people could see past its function (Praeger, 2007.) Hence it was largely ignored for years until it was brought to light again. In 2004, it won the award for the most influential piece of art of the 20th century (Higgins, 2004.)

Perhaps the reason Fountain could be appreciated years later is because of the myriad of poop-related art that came after in. This relates back to Rablelais in particular, given that Rabelais elevates folk culture to he status of literature. Artists now take poop and elevate it to the level of art. This is seen quite blatantly in the work of Piero Manzoni's 1961 "Merda d'Artiste," or "The Artist's Shit." For this piece, Manzoni literally pooped into several cans labeled "Artist's Shit," signed and numbered them and presented them as art. The art world took notice and today cans of Manzoni's poop sell for upwards of $30,000 (Praeger, 2007.) The message behind both Duchamp's and Manzoni's work is why, if the world calls certain things art, can't anything be art? Can anything be art when it is labeled as such and displayed as such? For sending this message, poop is the optimal tool. Referring back to the list of the twelve meanings of poop, number twelve states that poop represents negativity at its extreme. If poop can be art, what is left to be kept from being art? Nothing.

Artists' creations with poop sometimes cause quite an uproar depending on their context. In 1996, Chris Ofili created a piece entitled "Holy Virgin Mary" which was set to be displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The large painting bore a representation of an Africanized Virgin Mary, with the canvas covered in elephant poop. People were horrified by the juxtaposition of poop with the Virgin Mary, one of the holiest figures in Catholicism. Though the artist claimed it was not meant to be offensive but rather organic and inspired by his time in Africa, the then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to have the exhibit closed down for being blasphemous. After much fuss and an eventual law suit to reopen the exhibit, Holy Virgin Mary was eventually vandalized by an offended man with a bucket of paint (Saltz, 2008.) Surely if Holy Virgin Mary had featured spinach leaves or bird feathers or some other organic material, no such uproar would have ensued. But because of poop meanings number three and four (poop makes a potent insult, and poop represents contamination) believers in the sacredness of the Virgin Mary were disgusted by poop's proximity to their idol. These sorts of issues have arisen in several Maplethorpe pieces, notably "Piss Christ," 1989's scandalous depiction of a crucifix submerged in urine. As poop and the symbols people hold sacred intersect in art, it is likely that those people will take offense as long as modern symbology of poop exists.

One interesting variation on poop's role in art is Wim Delvoye's series called "Cloaca." Of which there have been several iterations since the late 1990's. All of the Cloaca pieces share the same goal. They are chemical reproductions of what occurs in the human digestive system, with the end product of the piece's efforts being nothing other than a perfect piece of poop, indistinguishable from one that would come out of a human being. People stand in a room with this large machine made up of jars of acid, tubes and siphons, and watch as Cloaca takes a standard meal, often delivered by some of the finest restaurants in New York, and churns and fizzles it into poop, perhaps one of the most mundane (see meaning number seven) substances imaginable. Yet for years and many iterations of the piece, crowds have come and marveled (Delvoye, 2000.)

There are several reasons why people might be so fascinated by Cloaca. First, it represents a transgression. Poop is supposed to be disgusting, and yet here in an art museum resides a massive machine designed to do one thing only: Poop. Second, it is intriguing that a process that occurs all the time in the grand space of a belly requires such a large space to be put into effect outside the human body. A process that we take so for granted and are so horrified by is actually quite an amazing feat of evolution (or creation, whatever you fancy.) It forces the viewer to offer a second of reverence to the digestive tract. Third, the final product of Cloaca, the poop itself, is regarded as art. It is scooped up and vacuum sealed, dated and numbered, and marked with precisely what foods Cloaca "ate" in order to produce this particular piece of art-poop. These packages are sold to collectors, much like Manzoni's Merde d'Artiste and are collectible even now. Fourth, the modern age has a certain respect for the machine. Because observing Cloaca can be justified not as exercising curiosity about poop but rather curiosity about the workings of an amazing machine, it gives observers an "out" for letting people know what they went to the museum to see. While going to a museum watch something poop could be embarrassing to admit, going to a museum to admire a work of mechanistic genius is surely an acceptable pursuit.

Fifth and perhaps most interestingly, Cloaca takes what is usually a by-product and makes it the main event. In a standard day, poop is what happens as a result of eating. Food and drink are the main focus of the digestive process. However, Cloaca makes a Carnivalesque run at the notion of poop as byproduct by turning poop into the event itself. The food is secondary and is merely serving as the fuel for the machine. When observers watch Cloaca being "fed" they are seeing the food as "eventual poop" instead of in everyday life when poop is seen as "former food." The people are not there to see anything other than the creation of poop. This turns the notion of poop as waste upside down and brings Rabelais' notions into a new forum.

In an act of self-reflexivity, I would also like to position this paper as a transgression. Obviously, from the numbers given in the "pro-log," academic endeavors into poop are few and far between. As I explained to people the topic of this paper, I received very strong reactions; stronger than I have before with any other paper topic. For instance, a faculty member in a high-level departmental position, when I told her of my topic, replied with a very concerned look. She asked "Are you sure you want to do that?" and followed up with concerns about having such a topic on my CV and potentially having to bring it up at job talks. For this person, it would be detrimental to the reputation of the department to graduate someone whose research centered on poop. Another person, namely my father, is historically anti-establishment and enjoys seeing authority figures put in uncomfortable situations. He was absolutely thrilled with the paper topic and expressed his joy exuberantly. He then switched to a serious tone and informed me that I was not to allow anyone to tell me that I should not continue with the topic, and that if it makes people uncomfortable that is all the more reason to write it. These two opposing reactions underscore the power of the symbology of poop. The mere notion of bringing poop into a "serious" space made one person who is invested in the sanctity of that space quite uncomfortable, and another person who seeks to see the sacred de-sanctified quite happy.


As much as we try to deny it, poop is an incredibly powerful symbol in Western culture. It can cause Mayors to blatantly disregard the first amendment, bookstores to "flag" books as contaminated, or indicate to us through its acceptance that we are part of a world turned on its ear. Its mere mention can cause an academic to have concern for a graduate student's career prospects or make a renegade father thrilled over a perceived act of defiance. For something generally regarded as waste, and something kept out of sight and out of conversation, it surely rules our actions at least a bit of every day.

Despite the fact that every human in every culture for all time has pooped, a shockingly miniscule body of research exists on the practices surrounding poop. Is it really possible that a cultural taboo has kept the academic world away from a topic so fertile as this? Amazingly, this does seem to be the case. Then what does the future hold for poop? Mary Douglas famously stated "Waste is matter out of place." If poop's unacceptability comes from its position as waste, poop could possibly have a renaissance if the realms in which it is considered out of place become fewer. Poop in art museums has become somewhat acceptable, when considering the evolution of reactions to "fountain" (really about pee, the less evil of the pee/poo dyad) through the admiration of Cloaca. Poop may infiltrate more and more domains and soon be only rarely out of place. Then again, poop may remain stunted at the museum. In fifty years if this paper is found by another slightly wacky grad student, I hope she is shocked by how much of a transgression it must have been to talk about poop back in 2008.

Works Cited

Bakhtin, M. (1936). Rabelais and his world. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Berrong, R.M. (1986). Rabelais and Bakhtin. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Burke, K. (1953). A rhetoric of motives. Cranbury, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Burke, K. (1969). A grammar of motives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Delvoye, E. (2000). Cloaca. Antwerp, Belgium: Ludion.

Higgins, C. (2004). A work of art that inspired a movement... a urinal. Retrieved May 3, 2008 from The Guardian Newspaper's Web site.

Johnson, S. (2006.) The Ghost Map. New York: The Penguin Group.

LaPorte, D. (1993). History of shit. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Morson, G.S., & Emerson, C. (1990). Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a prosaics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Parkin, J. (2002). Interpretations of Rabelais. Wales, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press. Ltd.

Praeger, D. (2007). Poop culture: How America is shaped by its grossest national product. Los Angeles: Feral House.

Saltz, J. (2008). The New York Canon. Retrieved May 3, 2008 from ArtNet's web site.

13 Comments on "The Toilet Paper Burke, Bakhtin and the Rhetoric of Poop"

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

I feel like I just read a report on Dave's book! Pretty in depth, Rotondo. I'm probably read this again over the weekend to catch what I missed the first time.

This is a good article to put up on a Friday. Lots to consider.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

pnuttycorn's picture
k 500+ points

Wow, that was wordy. Interesting.

MSG's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points

Great article. As a former member of Academe, I can attest to its narrowness and its prejudices; and yet, in it there are those with the courage to pursue truth wherever it leads. At some point, it should lead to poop, which is part of truth. Bravo, Rotondo!

Hum bunger's picture
l 100+ points

Too much to absorb in one reading.

It appears to me that point 9 and point 10 are interrelated. When a relationship grows the barriers we erect to safe guard ourselves are gradually lifted away. The more intimate the relationship the more barriers are removed until even our most vulnerable personal aspects are revealed, be they emotional or physical.

The Thunderous Crapper 63's picture
k 500+ points

This is a very excellent story and report fitting for a Memorial Day weekend when the weekend is nice and long. This is the kind you print and leave on the toilet tank. Leave it for that post Memorial Day BBQ dump. Just think perfect reading material when that ground beef kicks in with those baked beans, caesar salad, and corn on the cob. Reading this article will elevate that dump to new heights and yes then we become the better shitters. Let us also take time to remember the fighting men and women who have given their lives so that we may live free. GOD BLESS THE USA and GOD BLESS POOP!
The Thunderous Crapper 63 Enjoying home toilet advantage since 2004!


invictus247's picture
m 1+ points - Newb

Talk about having your shit together this is PhD. material,Excellent

shitwit's picture
k 500+ points

I'll print a copy of this and read it later today. I'm out of work for a little while and need something to entertain myself besides daytime television.

Rock-n-roll! Poopy-poo!

Rock-n-roll! Poopy-poo!

Anonymous Pooping Coward's picture

That was an amazing read. Both academic and funny. The author certainly does not have shit for brains. Very interesting.

408's picture


Love to Poop's picture
m 1+ points - Newb

I don't think I've ever seen anything so in depth on our favorite subject. Nice work.

Kimmy!!! Get your thumb out of there! I'm about to blow!

Kimmy!!! Get your thumb out of there! I'm about to blow!

Loocretia Kornmush's picture
l 100+ points

In the September 1971 issue of National Lampoon magazine there is an article by Chris Miller entitled, "The Toilet Papers". It is a portrait of an artist as a toddler going through toilet training - his "brown period". If there is any way you can obtain that back issue and read that article, you must do it. It is the funniest thing I have ever read.

Cannabem liberemus!

ChiliKahKah's picture
j 1000+ points

Miasma theory, from that point on it was clear the author had a PhD. (Piled Higher and Deeper)

Anonymous's picture

Some kids are scared to see their poo, they sometimes think their insides are coming out. I have a friend whose pediatrician told her to make a big deal out of pooping in the potty, and to let her kid say goodbye to it and realize that it was natural. To this day my husband and I typically tell each other once a day Bye bye ca ca, I love you!

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