ISBN-10:
0130995266
ISBN-13:
2900130995260
Pub. Date:
12/28/2003
Publisher:
Pearson
Information and Meaning : Connecting Thinking, Reading, and Writing / Edition 1

Information and Meaning : Connecting Thinking, Reading, and Writing / Edition 1

by Jennifer M. Ivers

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900130995260
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 12/28/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 792
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

In our media-rich society, companies buy and sell information, adventurers cruise the "information superhighway," and experts have emerged to provide "architecture" and "systems" for "managing" information. Information and Meaning explores the ways we encounter, assess, and create meaning using the vast landscape of information available to us. It provides students with models of and tools for critical reading, thinking, and writing that will not only benefit them during their college years, but will teach them to be discerning consumers of information

For decades, scholars, critics, and consumers alike have been looking closely at the means by which we process information in contemporary society. When media critic Marshall MacLuhan argued in 1964 that "the medium is the message," he suggested that content is irrelevant and that our nervous systems respond more to the electricity coming from a television set than to the programming. Almost forty years later, we are more comfortable with new media, and conscious enough of the physical effects to redirect ourselves to the challenge of "the message," as well as how the medium and the message interact. The works in this anthology—whether from the humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences—all interest themselves in such interaction, and in the complicated struggle for meaning in this information age.

In the college environment, the relationship between information and meaning is even more fraught. The college student is asked to absorb unfathomable amounts of information and simultaneously to be skeptical of it. Composition students especially must learn to filter, shape, reject, revise, present, deconstruct, support, and sell information in the context of the essays they write. They must consciously create meaning in contexts and via delivery methods new to them. The first step toward being able to do this successfully is learning to read actively and critically. Information and Meaning functions on the premise that difficult material with adequate support provides the most enriching instruction in this regard. Critical reading skills can only be acquired through challenging reading experiences, so none of the essays in this anthology presents simple arguments with definitive answers to the questions raised. The readings all analyze or illustrate what struggle there is in knowing something, especially in a culture that seems to resist the very concept of knowledge. So in addition to raising questions that will inspire critical inquiry, these authors present models of intellectual work for students—work that is always ambiguous, always difficult, and limitless in its implications.

In the midst of such complexity and difficulty, it is important for students to feel competent and autonomous. This text is designed to familiarize students with critical reading, thinking, and writing skills by offering both challenging texts and comprehensive support. The support offered is intended to show students the value of active reading rather than to provide a "crutch." In order to experience the intellectual delight in creating one's own meaning by synthesizing a text with the contexts, communities, and traditions that text has alluded to or been built upon, a student must be given ample illustration of, and practice with, such work. The following is an overview of the features of this book that provide this practice and illustration to help students internalize the intellectual process of critical analysis.

The texts are drawn from a range of perspectives, genres, styles, and disciplines. They cover a wide range of themes and offer a diversity of arguments; still, almost all of the texts can be shown to relate to each other and to the problem of making meaning out of information. Familiar subjects are addressed in fresh ways so that students do not recycle old ideas, but create new ones. And generally, the selections have not been previously anthologized, so it is unlikely students have read or written about them in previous classes.

The organization is alphabetical by author to avoid overly directed interpretations based on unit "themes." The texts do not have to be used sequentially, and each text is lengthy enough to provide many class periods of discussion. The texts can be used in just about any combination, depending on the needs of the particular course/curriculum.

Glosses of unfamiliar terms, names, dates, historical events, texts, and subtle allusions are bolded in the text and defined or described in the margins and in footnotes. The bolding facilitates easy navigation between text and gloss material, but students may choose to disregard glosses to avoid having to pause in their reading.

In Your Journal prompts in the margins feature note-taking suggestions, which may ask students to connect a passage to the main argument; to analyze a piece of evidence, the author's tone, or use of language, etc.; to remember a previous passage in the text for comparison; simply to paraphrase a difficult point; or to look for deeper meaning. Instructors may choose to require or encourage In Your Journal responses, which are numbered in each text for ease of use.

Introductions to each text provide biographical information, significant works and professional achievements of the author. For some students, this information will help place the supplied text in a larger context.

Questions about Substance encourage students to think about a text's main topic, argument, uses of evidence, and logic; to do close readings of quoted material and footnotes; to analyze or compare specific passages; and to formulate judgments about specific ideas presented in the text.

Questions about Structure and Style point students to sentence and paragraph organization, stylistic techniques, repeated themes or tropes, use of tone or emphasis, titles, introductions and conclusions, level of detail, imagery, or word choice—all to facilitate understanding of the relationship between a text's form and content.

Multimedia Suggestions provide short lists of films, television programs, Web sites, music, or other media to help students make interesting thematic or other connections across genres and subcultures. The suggestions are not meant to substitute for further reading, but to demonstrate that intertextual connections exist in all forms and that research can include myriad sources.

Suggestions for Writing and Research are not recipes for papers; they are meant to provoke deep thinking and complicated analysis, allowing for the development of original arguments. Students should think of these suggestions as springboards for their work, rather than quantitative questions that have "right" or "wrong" answers. There are various types of assignments here—from close reading exercises to more abstract argument assignments to full-blown research papers. An instructor may want to assign just one of the topics or to give students a choice of many, or even to assign a series of connected assignments. No one assignment is meant to take precedence over the others—they appear in no particular order of importance.

The Working with Clusters section at the end of the anthology presents lists of texts organized around concepts that will provide enriched reading and writing experiences. Each cluster includes a brief description of the ideas around which it is built and a series of questions called "Suggestions for Writing" that, in addition to providing paper topics, could also be used for purposes of discussion or to enhance the reading experience. Related clusters are also listed as potential unit partners, so that an instructor might build a whole course around the suggested cluster groups. The list of clusters here is by no means exhaustive, and instructors may use them as models for developing their own thematic or conceptual groups of texts. Finally, a short list of discipline- and genre-related clusters is provided without additional apparatus.

Combined, the book's apparatus gives students opportunities to practice:

  • Active reading
  • Intertextual inference/synthesis
  • Interdisciplinary thinking
  • Analysis of point of view, tone, purpose, and creative language
  • Finding main ideas
  • Exploring style choices
  • Looking at themes and patterns
  • Testing theoretical ideas
  • Assessing evidence
  • Examining logic
  • Critical thinking about context
  • Research

First, though, the Introduction for Students will describe for students some of the contexts in which they will use this book and some of the expectations it is meant to help them fulfill.

Table of Contents

1. Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses.

2. Natalie Angier, “Circular Reasonings: The Story of the Breast” from Woman: An Intimate Geography.

3. Sven Birkerts, “MahVuhHuhPuh” from The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age.

4. Charles Bowden, “The Bone Garden of Desire” from Esquire, August 2001.

5. Clay Calvert, “Free Press, Free Voyeurs?” from Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture.

6. Kenneth Cole, New York, “Where Would We Be without Our Rights?”

7. Kimberlê Crenshaw, “Whose Story Is It, Anyway?: Feminist and Antiracist Appropriations of Anita Hill” (from Race-ing Justice, En-gender-ing Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas and the Construction of Social Reality [Tony Morrison, Ed.]).

8. Don DeLillo, White Noise.

9. Annie Dillard, The Writing Life.

10. Colette Dowling, “Closing the Strength Gap” (from The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality).

11. Robert Eaglestone, “Postmodernism and Holocaust Denial.”

12. Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

13. Wendy Ewald, “Saudi Arabia 1997.”

14. Thomas Friedman, “Tourist with an Attitude” (from The Lexus and the Olive Tree).

15. Atul Gawande, “Final Cut” (from Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science).

16. Stephen J. Gould, “A Tale of Two Work Sites” (from The Lying Stones of Marrakech: Penultimate Reflections in Natural History).

17. Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families.

18. E.J. Graff, “Inside Out or Outside In: Who Says You're Married?” (from What Is Marriage For?).

19. John Hockenberry, “The Next Brainiacs” (from Wired, August 2001).

20. Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma, “Occidentalism” (from The New York Review of Books [1/17/02]).

21. Cindy Patton, “Media, Testing, and Safe Sex Education: Controlling the Landscape of AIDS Information” (from Inventing AIDS).

22. Jedediah Purdy, “Avoiding the World” (from For Common Things: Irony, Trust and Commitment in America Today).

23. Faith Ringgold, The French Collection.

24. Randall Robinson, “Reclaiming Our Ancient Self” (from The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks).

25. Richard Rodriguez, “The Triad of Alexis de Tocqueville” (from Brown: The Last Discovery of America).

26. Arundhati Roy, “The Ladies Have Feelings, So...Shall We Leave It to the Experts?” (from Power Politics).

27. Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Boamia 1992-1995.

28. Lauren Slater, “Some Kind of Cleansing” (from Welcome to My Country: A Therapist's Memoir of Madness).

29. Cass Sunstein, “The Daily Me” and “The Neighborhood Me” (from Republic.com).

30. Patrick Tierney, Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon.

Preface

In our media-rich society, companies buy and sell information, adventurers cruise the "information superhighway," and experts have emerged to provide "architecture" and "systems" for "managing" information. Information and Meaning explores the ways we encounter, assess, and create meaning using the vast landscape of information available to us. It provides students with models of and tools for critical reading, thinking, and writing that will not only benefit them during their college years, but will teach them to be discerning consumers of information

For decades, scholars, critics, and consumers alike have been looking closely at the means by which we process information in contemporary society. When media critic Marshall MacLuhan argued in 1964 that "the medium is the message," he suggested that content is irrelevant and that our nervous systems respond more to the electricity coming from a television set than to the programming. Almost forty years later, we are more comfortable with new media, and conscious enough of the physical effects to redirect ourselves to the challenge of "the message," as well as how the medium and the message interact. The works in this anthology—whether from the humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences—all interest themselves in such interaction, and in the complicated struggle for meaning in this information age.

In the college environment, the relationship between information and meaning is even more fraught. The college student is asked to absorb unfathomable amounts of information and simultaneously to be skeptical of it. Composition students especially must learn to filter, shape, reject, revise, present, deconstruct, support, and sell information in the context of the essays they write. They must consciously create meaning in contexts and via delivery methods new to them. The first step toward being able to do this successfully is learning to read actively and critically. Information and Meaning functions on the premise that difficult material with adequate support provides the most enriching instruction in this regard. Critical reading skills can only be acquired through challenging reading experiences, so none of the essays in this anthology presents simple arguments with definitive answers to the questions raised. The readings all analyze or illustrate what struggle there is in knowing something, especially in a culture that seems to resist the very concept of knowledge. So in addition to raising questions that will inspire critical inquiry, these authors present models of intellectual work for students—work that is always ambiguous, always difficult, and limitless in its implications.

In the midst of such complexity and difficulty, it is important for students to feel competent and autonomous. This text is designed to familiarize students with critical reading, thinking, and writing skills by offering both challenging texts and comprehensive support. The support offered is intended to show students the value of active reading rather than to provide a "crutch." In order to experience the intellectual delight in creating one's own meaning by synthesizing a text with the contexts, communities, and traditions that text has alluded to or been built upon, a student must be given ample illustration of, and practice with, such work. The following is an overview of the features of this book that provide this practice and illustration to help students internalize the intellectual process of critical analysis.

The texts are drawn from a range of perspectives, genres, styles, and disciplines. They cover a wide range of themes and offer a diversity of arguments; still, almost all of the texts can be shown to relate to each other and to the problem of making meaning out of information. Familiar subjects are addressed in fresh ways so that students do not recycle old ideas, but create new ones. And generally, the selections have not been previously anthologized, so it is unlikely students have read or written about them in previous classes.

The organization is alphabetical by author to avoid overly directed interpretations based on unit "themes." The texts do not have to be used sequentially, and each text is lengthy enough to provide many class periods of discussion. The texts can be used in just about any combination, depending on the needs of the particular course/curriculum.

Glosses of unfamiliar terms, names, dates, historical events, texts, and subtle allusions are bolded in the text and defined or described in the margins and in footnotes. The bolding facilitates easy navigation between text and gloss material, but students may choose to disregard glosses to avoid having to pause in their reading.

In Your Journal prompts in the margins feature note-taking suggestions, which may ask students to connect a passage to the main argument; to analyze a piece of evidence, the author's tone, or use of language, etc.; to remember a previous passage in the text for comparison; simply to paraphrase a difficult point; or to look for deeper meaning. Instructors may choose to require or encourage In Your Journal responses, which are numbered in each text for ease of use.

Introductions to each text provide biographical information, significant works and professional achievements of the author. For some students, this information will help place the supplied text in a larger context.

Questions about Substance encourage students to think about a text's main topic, argument, uses of evidence, and logic; to do close readings of quoted material and footnotes; to analyze or compare specific passages; and to formulate judgments about specific ideas presented in the text.

Questions about Structure and Style point students to sentence and paragraph organization, stylistic techniques, repeated themes or tropes, use of tone or emphasis, titles, introductions and conclusions, level of detail, imagery, or word choice—all to facilitate understanding of the relationship between a text's form and content.

Multimedia Suggestions provide short lists of films, television programs, Web sites, music, or other media to help students make interesting thematic or other connections across genres and subcultures. The suggestions are not meant to substitute for further reading, but to demonstrate that intertextual connections exist in all forms and that research can include myriad sources.

Suggestions for Writing and Research are not recipes for papers; they are meant to provoke deep thinking and complicated analysis, allowing for the development of original arguments. Students should think of these suggestions as springboards for their work, rather than quantitative questions that have "right" or "wrong" answers. There are various types of assignments here—from close reading exercises to more abstract argument assignments to full-blown research papers. An instructor may want to assign just one of the topics or to give students a choice of many, or even to assign a series of connected assignments. No one assignment is meant to take precedence over the others—they appear in no particular order of importance.

The Working with Clusters section at the end of the anthology presents lists of texts organized around concepts that will provide enriched reading and writing experiences. Each cluster includes a brief description of the ideas around which it is built and a series of questions called "Suggestions for Writing" that, in addition to providing paper topics, could also be used for purposes of discussion or to enhance the reading experience. Related clusters are also listed as potential unit partners, so that an instructor might build a whole course around the suggested cluster groups. The list of clusters here is by no means exhaustive, and instructors may use them as models for developing their own thematic or conceptual groups of texts. Finally, a short list of discipline- and genre-related clusters is provided without additional apparatus.

Combined, the book's apparatus gives students opportunities to practice:

  • Active reading
  • Intertextual inference/synthesis
  • Interdisciplinary thinking
  • Analysis of point of view, tone, purpose, and creative language
  • Finding main ideas
  • Exploring style choices
  • Looking at themes and patterns
  • Testing theoretical ideas
  • Assessing evidence
  • Examining logic
  • Critical thinking about context
  • Research

First, though, the Introduction for Students will describe for students some of the contexts in which they will use this book and some of the expectations it is meant to help them fulfill.

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