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Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers / Edition 6

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Unlike other popular culture readers, Signs of Life presumes that this topic merits rigorous analysis and so provides a conceptual framework for understanding it: semiotics, a field of critical theory developed specifically for the interpretation of culture and its signs. The selections in Signs of Life are arranged in provocative chapters (on such themes as gender codes, television and music, film, and advertising) that tap into students’ own experiences with and interest in popular culture.

The uniquely qualified editorial team of a prominent semiotician and an experienced writing instructor have prepared extensive apparatus to prompt the rigorous analysis that helps students become better thinkers and writers. In this exciting edition, Signs of Life examines fresh topics with an emphasis on the emerging phenomenon of Web 2.0. Maasik and Solomon continue to stay on the leading edge of popular culture, examining the hottest trends that capture students’ attention.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312478124
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 12/10/2008
  • Edition description: Sixth Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 752
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sonia Maasik is a lecturer in the UCLA Writing Programs, where she has taught writing from developmental to advanced levels.

Jack Solomon is professor of English at California State University, Northridge, and teaches literature and critical theory. He is often interviewed by the California media for analysis of current events and trends.

The two together also have published California Dreams and Realities: Readings for Critical Thinkers and Writers, Third Edition (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005).

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Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors

Introduction: Popular Signs: Or Everything You've Always Known About American Culture (But Nobody Asked)

Portfolio: Images from the History of Popular Culture

Writing About Popular Culture

*Scott Jaschik: A Stand Against Wikipedia

*Patti S. Caravello: Judging Quality on the Internet

Citing Sources

Chapter 1. Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption

Laurence Shames: The More Factor

Paired Readings: Understanding Shopping

+Malcolm Gladwell: The Science of Shopping

+Anne Norton: The Signs of Shopping

Credit Card Barbie [photograph]

Thomas Hine: What's in a Package

Joan Kron: The Semiotics of Home Decor

*Anne Galligan: Pottermania: the Marketing Behind the Magic

*Alison Schneider: Frumpy or Chic? Tweed or Kente? Sometimes the Clothes Make the Professor

David Goewey: "'Careful, You May Run Out of Planet'": SUVs and the Exploitation of the American Myth

Thomas L. Friedman: Revolution Is U. S.

*Thomas Frank: Commodify Your Dissent

Chapter 2. Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising

Roland Marchand: The Parable of the Democracy of Goods

When You Come Home [advertisement]

Paired Readings: Creating Consumers

+James B. Twitchell: What We Are to Advertisers

+*Sandra Blakeslee: If You Have a "Buy Button" in Your Brain, What Pushes It?

Steve Craig: Men’s Men and Women’s Women

*Jennifer L. Pozner: Dove's "Real Beauty" Backlash

Warren St. John: Metrosexuals Come Out

Eric Schlosser: Kid Kustomers

Gloria Steinem: Sex, Lies, and Advertising

Portfolio of Advertisements

Jeep Compass

Mr Rooter

American Egg Board

Phoenix Wealth Management

San Diego Tourism

Honda Pilot

McCormick Gravy

Chapter 3. Video Dreams: Television, Music and Culture

Francine Prose: Voting Democracy off the Island: Reality TV and the Republican Ethos

"You’re Fired" [photograph]

James Harold: A Moral Never-Never Land: Identifying with Tony Soprano

Paired Readings: Animating Attitude

+Carl Matheson: The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony, and the Meaning of Life

+*David Valleau Curtis and Gerald J. Erion: South Park and the Open Society

*Jaime J. Weinman: Fox News Attempts to Get Funny

Susan Douglas: Signs of Intelligent Life on TV

Andre Mayer: The New Sexual Stone Age"

Marissa Connolly: Homosexuality on Television: The Heterosexualization of Will and Grace

*Kevin Powell: Dead? 'Hip-hop culture has been murdered'

Chapter 4. The Hollywood Sign: The Signs of American Film

Paired Readings: Inventing Heroes

+Robert B. Ray: The Thematic Paradigm

+*Virginia Postrel: Superhero Worship

Linda Seger: Creating the Myth

*Lisa Kernan: Trailer Rhetoric

Todd Boyd: So You Wanna Be a Gangsta?

Jessica Hagedorn: Asian Women in Film: No Joy, No Luck

David Denby: High-School Confidential: Notes On Teen Movies

*Tom Moore: Movie Fantasy vs. Classroom Reality

Michael Parenti: Class and Virtue

*Aeon J. Skoble: Forrest Gump: A Subversive Movie

Vivian C. Sobchack: The Postmorbid Condition

Reservoir Dogs [movie poster]

Chapter 5. You-Topian Dreams: MySpace, YourSpace, and the Semiotics of Web 2.0

*Henry Jenkins: Convergence Culture

Paired Readings: Celebrating You

+*Steven Johnson: It’s All About Us

+*Brian Williams: Enough About You

*Ted Friedman: From the Forest to the Trees: The Sims

*Alana Semuels: Virtual marketers Have Second Thoughts about Second Life

*Clive Thompson: Game Theories

*A.B. Harris: Average Gamers Please Step Forward

*Joann Cavanaugh Simpson: Multitasking State of Mind

* David Teten and Scott Allen: Free Speech and Censorship in Online Communities

Chapter 6. American Paradox: Culture and Contradiction in the USA

David Brooks: One Nation, Slightly Divisible

Paired Readings: Profiling Stereotypes

+Randall Kennedy: Blind Spot

+* Dahleen Glanton and Kayce T. Ataiyero: NAACP buries the hated N-word

*Tim Kasser: Mixed Messages

"Leave Area Clean" [photograph]

Jack Solomon: Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising

*Shelley Fralic: Cheap Chic

Mariah Burton Nelson: I Won. I’m Sorry.

Alfred Lubrano: The Shock of Education: How College Corrupts

Richard Corliss: The Gospel According to Spider-Man

Chapter 7. We've Come a Long Way, Maybe: Gender Codes in American Culture

Paired Readings: Performing Gender

+Aaron Devor: Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes

+Deborah Blum: The Gender Blur: Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over?

Kevin Jennings: American Dreams

Sean Cahill: The Case for Marriage Equality

Andy Medhurst: Batman, Deviance, and Camp

*Courtney Martin: The Famine Mystique

Emily Prager: Our Barbies, Ourselves

Joan Morgan: Sex, Lies, and Videos

"Hey Bud" [photograph]

Deborah Tannen: Wears Jump Suit. Sensible Shoes. Uses Husband's Last Name.

James William Gibson: Warrior Dreams

Michael A. Messner: Power at Play

Chapter 8. Constructing Race: Readings in Multicultural Semiotics

Paired Readings: Mediating Race

+Michael Omi: In Living Color: Race and American Culture

+*Greg Braxton: Hollywood Loves BBFs 4-Ever

*Rebecca Traister: Class Act

Angeline F. Price: Working Class Whites

Jack Lopez: Of Cholos and Surfers

Jim Whitmer: Four Teens [photograph]

Nell Bernstein: Goin' Gangsta, Choosin' Cholita

Melissa Algranati: Being an Other

Fan Shen: The Classroom and the Wider Culture: Identity as a Key to Learning English Composition


Index of Authors and Titles

Citing Sources

* new to this edition

+ paired readings

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