Uncommon Threads: Reading and Writing about Contemporary America / Edition 1

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This new popular culture reader encourages students to consider alternative and complex perspectives on the contemporary issues and concerns that affect them daily and to make critical connections between cultural events and contexts they might previously have considered unlinked.

Organized around intriguing pairings of topics–fashion and spirituality, learning and lifestyles–that are central to contemporary culture, this provocative reader engages students because it focuses on the issues that most interest and trouble them. Pedagogical apparatus explores the interrelationships between related readings, and writing assignments investigate of the contexts of popular culture via printed texts and the World Wide Web. This critical, but engaging reader invites students to explore how we manufacture personal and group identities and conceptual categories and helps them recognize the part they play in the dynamic dialogue between the way culture frames our explanations about it–and the way our explanations produce the culture.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321026644
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 12/17/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction.

2. Reading Popular Culture: Printed Texts.

3. Reading Popular Culture: Visual Texts and Web Sites.

4. Writing About Popular Culture.

5. Our Families, Ourselves.

Nature vs. Nurture: Do Our Families Control Our Destiny?

The Rules of the Game, Amy Tan.


Childers Family Porch, Shelby Lee Adams.

Emma Street, Nicholas Nixon.

A Love Story, Kathy Scully Davis.

Family and Individual: Where Do We Draw the Line?

The Inheritance of Tools, Scott Russell Sanders.

Doonesbury Cartoon, Gary Trudeau.

Family Reunion, Maxine Kumin.

Lane Cedar Chest Ad.

The Way to Rainy Mountain, N. Scott Momaday.

Family Values: Who Decides?

Not Much Sense in Those Census Numbers, Stephanie Coontz.

If the River Was Whiskey, T. C. Boyle.

My Old Man, Charles Bukowski.

Entertaining Angels, Ed Madden.

Are Families Dangerous? Barbara Ehrenreich.

What's the Matter Here?, 10,000 Maniacs.

6. Learning and Lifestyles.

Identities: Why Do We Think We Are Who We Are?

On Dumpster Diving, Lars Eighner.

On Being a Cripple, Nancy Mairs.

The Stores That Cross Class Lines, Jennifer Steinhauer.

Gay Pride March Marks Celebration of Family, Community, Ed Madden.

The Columbus School for Girls, Liza Wieland.

Dazed and Bemused, Laurie Anderson.

Attitudes: Why Do We Believe What We Do?

Education and the American Dream, Lynn Weber.

My Perfect Baby (cartoon), Nicole Hollander.

On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students, Mark Edmundson.

The Virtues of Silence, Robert Newman.

The Organization Kid, David Brooks.

Positive Reinforcement (cartoon), Allan Bednar.

Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball by the (Check)Book, Richard Hauer Costa.

7. Love and Conflict.

Being in Love vs. Loving: Is Romantic Love a Myth?

Cartoon, Libby Reid.

Dating Your Mom, Ian Frazier.

Women and Children First, Katha Pollitt.

Film Still from Titanic.

Virtual Love, Meghan Daum.

Soap Opera Men in the 90s, Carol Traynor Williams.

Broken Valentines: Does Love Have to Hurt?

The Life of the Body, Tobias Wolff.

Second Base: Love and Control, Naomi Wolf.

Happiness: The Forbidden Subject, Susan Ludvigson.

The Girl on the Can of Peas, Gary Soto.

The Cinderella Complex: Romance Fiction, Patriarchy, and Capitalism, Jeanne Dubino.

8. Heroes and Outsiders.

The American Dream: Alienation, Individuality, or Heroism?

Gene Autry's Cowboy Code.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, Willie Nelson.

Can You Say . . . 'Hero'? Tom Junod.

Working Class Heroes, Joshua Freeman.

Sunday, Tarzan in His Hammock, Lewis Buzbee.

Alienating Language, Jack Thomas.

Heroes and Sheroes: How Does Gender Affect Heroism?

My Mulan: Pop Culture Saved My Life, Mimi Nguyen.

Women in Action, Anamika Samanta and Erin Franzman.

From Power at Play, Mike Messner.

Children and Poverty, Marian Wright Edelman.

9. Fashion and Spirituality.

Advertising and Values: Are We What We See?

Of Shopping, Phyllis Rose.

Maslin Cartoon.

Listening to Khakis: What America's Most Popular Pants Tell Us About the Ways Guys Think, Malcolm Gladwell.

After Advertising Ended, Ed Ochester.

Citizen Watch Ad.

Supermodel, The Juliana Hatfield Three.

Spirituality: Is Fashion Belief in a Designer Age?

Victoria's Secret Angels Ad.

In Search of Inner Peace? Try the Gap's Om Cologne, Ruth LaFerla.

Total Enlightenment, JVC Ad.

Finding God on the Web, Joshua Cooper Ramo.

Horizontal Snow, Rick DeMarinis.

10. Dying and Healing.

Identity and Culture: What Does It Mean to Be Healthy?

The Clan of One-Breasted Women, Terry Tempest Williams.

The Body Bazaar, Karen Wright.

My Cure Is Killing Me, Eric Trump.

The Boy in the Bubble, Paul Simon.

Ways of Healing: Is There More Than One Prescription?

Why Medicine Needs Women, Anna Quindlen.

A Way of Walking in Two Worlds, Suki Casanave.

Where I Go, Natalie Merchant.

Dying Well: How Do We Deal with Endings?

A Case of Assisted Suicide, Jack Kevorkian.

The Right Hand of the Father, Thomas Lynch.

The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor, Sherman Alexie.

Getting Away with Murder, Barbara Grizutti Harrison.

It's Not Like Falling Asleep, Robert Murray.

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