The World is a Text: Writing, reading and Thinking About Culture and its Context / Edition 1 available in Paperback
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Table of ContentsIntroduction.
Semiotics: The Study of Signs (and Texts). Systems of Reading: Making Sense of Cultural Texts. The "Semiotic Situation" (or the "Moving Text" ). Texts, the World, You, and Your Papers. Learning to Read the World as a Text: Three Case Studies. Reading This Text as a Text. So, the World Is a Text, What Can You Do with It?
The World Is a Text: Writing.
How Do I Write a Text for College? Making the Transition from High School Writing, by Patty Strong. How Do I Make an Argument about a Building? Strategies for Constructing a Thesis and Building a Good Paper. How Do I Write about Movies? A Tour through the Writing Process. How Am I a Text? On Writing Personal Essays. How Do I Know What a Good Paper Looks Like? An Annotated Student Essay. How Do I Get Info on Songs? Researching Popular Culture Texts.
The World Is a Text: Reading.
1. Reading Literature.
Jean Toomer, "Blood-Burning Moon." James Tate, "Goodtime Jesus." Pablo Neruda, "Ode to My Socks." Carolyn Forché, "The Colonel." Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown." William Shakespeare, "My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun (Sonnet 130)." Emily Dickinson, "My Life Had Stood--a Loaded Gun." Wislawa Szymborska, "Slapstick." Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour" .
The Literature Suite--Social and Economic ClassLangston Hughes, "Harlem." Susan Steinberg, "Isla. " Chris Haven, "Assisted Living." Adrian Louis, "Dust World." Theodore Roethke, "My Papa's Waltz."
2. Reading Television.
Sallie Tisdale, "Citizens of the World, Turn on Your Televisions!" Ariel Gore, "TV Can Be a Good Parent." Harry F.Waters, "Life According to TV." Michelle Cottle, "How Soaps Are Integrating America: Color TV." Katherine Gantz, "'Not That There's Anything Wrong with That': Reading the Queer in Seinfeld."
Student Essay: Archana Mehta, "Society's Need for a Queer Solution: The Media's Reinforcement of Homophobia through Traditional Gender Roles."
The Simpsons Suite.Les Sillars, "The Last Christian TV Family in America." Jaime J. Weinman, "Worst Episode Ever." Anne Waldron Neumann, "The Simpsons." Peter Parisi, "'Black Bart' Simpson: Appropriation and Revitalization in Commodity Culture."
Student Essay: Hillary West, "Media Journal: The Rosie O'Donnell Show."3. Reading Public Space.
Daphne Spain, "Spatial Segregation and Gender Stratification in the Workplace." Kenneth Meeks, "Shopping in a Group While Black: A Coach's Story." Robert Bednar, "Caught Looking: Problems with Taking Pictures of People Taking Pictures at an Exhibition." Katherine F. Benzel, "Room for Learning with Latest Technology."
Public Space--The Suburban Suite.William L. Hamilton, "How Suburban Design is Failing Teen-Agers." William Booth, "A White Migration North from Miami." Sarah Boxer, "A Remedy for the Rootlessness of Modern Suburban Life?" Whitney Gould, "New Urbanism Needs to Keep Racial Issues in Mind."
4. Reading Race and Ethnicity.
Tamar Lewin, "Growing Up, Growing Apart." Kwame J. McKenzie and N. S. Crowcroft, "Describing Race, Ethnicity, and Culture in Medical Research: Describing the Groups Studied Is Better Than Trying to Find a Catchall Name" Michael Omi, "In Living Color: Race and American Culture" . Handsome Lake, "How America Was Discovered" Amy Tan, "Mother Tongue." Jim Mahfood, "True Tales of Amerikkkan History Part II: The True Thanksgiving" . Beverly Daniel Tatum, "Why Are All Blacks Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" Malcolm Gladwell, "The Sports Taboo."
Race and Ethnicity--The Multiracial Suite.Jeffry Scott, "Race, Labels and Identity; Millions Live in an America Bent on--and at Odds about--Categorizing Them." Leonard Pitts, Jr., "Is There Room in This Sweet Land of Liberty for Such a Thing as a 'Cablinasian'? Face It, Tiger: If They Say You're Black, Then You're Black." George F. Will, "Melding in America." Ellis Cose, "Census and the Complex Issue of Race." Teja Arboleda, "Race Is a Four-Letter Word."
5. Reading Movies.
David Denby, "High-School Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies" Michael Parenti, "Class and Virtue." bell hooks, "Mock Feminism: Waiting to Exhale." Freya Johnson, "Holy Homosexuality Batman!: Camp and Corporate Capitalism in Batman Forever." Four Reviews of Moulin Rouge: Roger Ebert, Stanley Kaufmann, Elvis Mitchell, Owen Glieberman.
The Movie Violence Suite.Linda Williams, "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess." Violence, Film, and Native America: Louise Erdrich, "Dear John Wayne." and Sherman Alexie, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Andrea Sachs and Susanne Washburn, "Time Forum: Tough Talk on Entertainment."
Interchapter: Reading Images.
America, Cowboys, The West, and Race. The Images of Gender. The Semiotics of Architecture. Laundry. Two Flags.
6. Reading Gender.
Deborah Tannen, "Marked Women, Unmarked Men." Holly Devor, "Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes." Paul Theroux, "Being a Man." Alfonsina Storni, "You Would Have Me White."
Student Essay: Whitney Black, "The Woman Warrior: The Problem of Using Culture to Liberate Identity."
The Myths of Gender Suite.Jill Birnie Henke, Diane Zimmerman Umble, and Nancy J. Smith, "Construction of the Female Self: Feminist Readings of the Disney Heroine." Jane Yolen, "America's Cinderella." Maxine Hong Kingston, "No Name Woman."
7. Reading the Visual Arts.
Alan Pratt, "Andy Warhol: The Most Controversial Artist of the Century?" Susan Sontag, "America Seen through a Lens Darkly." , "Which Art Will Top the Chartes?: Four Curators Share Their Top 10 Picks and Reasoning behind the Most Influential Visual Artworks of the Past 1,000 Years." E. G. Chrichton, "Is the NAMES Quilt Art?" Dean Rader, "(Re)Versing Vision: Reading Sculpture in Poetry and Prose." Scott McCloud, "Sequential Art: 'Closure' and 'Art'."
Student Essay: Anne Darby, "#27: Reading Cindy Sherman and Gender."
The Sensation Suite.Dana Mack, "It Isn't Pretty…But Is It Art?" Peter Schjeldahl, "Those Nasty Brits: How Sensational Is 'Sensation?'" William F. Buckley Jr., "Giuliani's Own Exhibit." Benjamin Ivry, "'Modern Art Is a Load of Bullshit': Why Can't the Art World Accept Social Satire from a Black Artist?"
8. Reading Advertising and the Media.
Advertising.Dave Barry, "Some Hated Commercials Inspire Violent Fantasies." Malcolm Gladwell, "The Coolhunt." Clint C. Wilson and Felix Gutierrez, "Advertising and People of Color." Rob Walker, "Diet Coke's Underwear Strategy."
Student Essay: Brittany Gray, "Hanes Her Way."
News/Media.Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, "15 Questions about the 'Liberal Media'." Kevin Williams and David Miller, "AIDS News and News Cultures." David McGowan, "The America the Media Don't Want You to See."
The Media Manipulation Suite.Stuart and Elizabeth Ewen, "In the Shadow of the Image" William Lutz, "Weasel Words." Trudy Lieberman, "Slanting the Story."
9. Reading Music.
Kevin J.H. Dettmar and William Richey, "Musical Cheese: The Appropriation of Seventies Music in Nineties Movies."
Student Essay: Fouzia Baber, "Is Tupac Really Dead?"
Student Essay: Sarah Hawkins, "Right on Target: Revisiting Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True"
Reading Music--The Song Suite.Dave Marsh, "Johnny B. Goode." Ian MacDonald, "I Am the Walrus." Robert Shelton, "Like a Rolling Stone." Michael Azerrad, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Matt Compton, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Christopher Sieving, "Cop Out? The Media, 'Cop Killer,' and the Deracialization of Black Rage (Constructing MisRepresentations)"
10. Reading Technology.
Donald A. Norman, "Infuriating by Design: Everyday Things Need Not Wreak Havoc on Our Lives." Elizabeth Weil, "The Girl-Game Jinx." Lisa Nakamura, "Where Do You Want to Go Today? Cybernetic Tourism, the Internet, and Transnationality"
Student Essay: Virginia Colwell, "Mail-Order Brides: The Content of Internet Courtship."
The Internet and Identity Suite.Frederick C. McKissack Jr., "Cyberghetto: Blacks are Falling Through the Net." Glen Martin, "Internet Indian Wars: Native Americans Are Fighting to Connect the 550 Nations--In Cyberspace." Brenda Danet, "Text as Mask: Gender and Identity on the Internet." Andrew Sullivan, "The InnerNet."
Appendix: How Do I Cite This Car?: Guidelines for Citing Popular Culture Texts.
Using Parenthetical References. Building the Works Cited Page. Plagiarism. Works Cited Examples.
As a human being, this type of reading is crucial for being an active participant in the world. But too often this "informal" reading is given short shrift in the classroom. While we agree that training in reading traditional texts such as novels, short stories, poetry, and plays is a crucial aspect of an education, perhaps the crucial aspect, we also believe that the methods used in learning to read traditional texts can be applied to nontraditional ones as wellwith the overall goal of understanding the world around us and reducing the distance between the classroom and the "real world."
Our book comes out of these ideas. While there are many popular culture readers out there, good ones in fact, we never quite found the book we wanted; one that focused on the classroom experience and the writing situation. We think the classroom should be a dynamic place, and we think writing and discussion is crucial to learning how to think. The World Is a Text is as much a book for teachers as it is for students in that regard. We hope that our questions, introductions, and exercises give teachers the tools they need to teach students how to write with clarity and intelligence, to read more actively and astutely, and finally to engage the world more actively. While all three missions are crucial, the first two are clearly more aimed at academic achievement. The last we think is critical in our missions asteachers. We believe students who read their worlds more actively are not only better students, but better citizens of the world.
For its pedagogy, The World Is a Text relies on a modified semiotic approach; it is based on the assumption that reading occurs at all times and places. It also relies on traditional critical skills employed by literary scholars and the generally contextual approach employed by cultural studies scholars. The book also features a sophisticated way of thinking about texts, writing, and the rhetorical moment. Taking as its major theoretical framework I.A. Richards' claim that rhetoric is a philosophic inquiry into how words work in discourse, The World Is a Text considers how various texts enact rhetorical strategies and how students might begin not only to recognize these strategies but write their own. Textual analysis (reading) and textual formation (writing) jointly contribute to the larger process of knowledge making. Thus, The World Is a Text is interested in helping students to ask not simply what something means but how something means.
And because knowledge making requires knowledge of how we make arguments and sentences and theses and assertions, this book goes one step further than similar readers in that, in our experience, writing remains a secondary concern for most anthologies. One of our goals is to make the writing experience a vital part of the entire book from the introduction, to the section on writing, to each individual reading. For instance, Section I, "The World Is a Text: Writing" takes a comprehensive approach to the various stages of the writing process. We walk students through selecting a topic, brainstorming, outlining, developing a thesis, and revising. We offer help with research and citation. We even provide a unique chapter on making the transition from high school to college writing. One of our goals is to help students make these connections between reading and writing, thinking and writing, revising and revisioning.
The World Is a Text also has its focus in encountering media and texts in general; each chapter has questions that encourage students not only to respond to readings but the texts and media themselves. Every chapter has an introduction that focuses on reading media and individual "texts" (not the readings themselves). In the readings that follow, each piece features questions geared toward both reading and writing. And its general apparatus in the form of worksheets and classroom exercises encourages students to use the readings as a starting point for their own explorations of television, race, movies, art, and the other media and texts we include here.
On a more theoretical level, we show how language in text and context functions to produce meaning. And we talk about how writing is fundamentally linked to other aspects of critical inquiry like reading, listening, thinking, and speaking. Ultimately, part of our approach comes from Kenneth Burke. Just as he argues that all literature is a piece of rhetoric, we suggest that all texts are rhetoric and that every moment is a potential moment for reading and therefore for writing.
What we envision this book will do for students is help them bridge culture and text. However, we present material in a way that provides context, direction and structure. In that sense, the book is traditional; however, the expanded nature of what a text is makes our approach innovative. We hope that, in turn, this will allow students to expand their idea of reading and therefore expand their critical relationship to the world. In an academic setting, where accountability and practicality are watchwords, giving students a more interpretative way of looking at and writing about the world seems especially appropriate.