The Prose Reader Essays for Thinking, Reading, and Writing

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  • Edition: 11th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/5/2016
  • Publisher: Pearson
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For courses in first-year composition.


Organized by rhetorical modes to showcase contemporary works by diverse authors

Lucid writing follows lucid thinking – and The Prose Reader, Eleventh Edition helps students think more clearly and logically in their minds and on paper. Organized by rhetorical pattern, this reader builds upon critical thinking as the foundation for close reading and effective writing. Numerous discussion questions and writing assignments for each selection lead students from literal-level responses to interpretation and analysis. These questions, and the essays they frame, immerse students in some of the best examples of professional prose available today.


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Author Biography

Kim Flachmann teaches at the California State University, Bakersfield, where she also administers the Composition Program—from remedial English through the Graduate Teaching Assistants. She was chosen Outstanding Professor at CSUB in 1998-99. She also was Rhetorician of the Year for the Young Rhetoricians’ Conference in 2007 and was the recipient of the California Association of Teachers of English Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. She has published numerous articles on rhetoric and American literature and has written seven textbooks—among them a college reader ( The Prose Reader (Pearson) in its eleventh edition), a series of three books for developmental English called Mosaics: Reading and Writing Sentences , Mosaics: Reading and Writing Paragraphs , and Mosaics: Reading and Writing Essays ,

(Pearson), and Nexus: A Rhetorical Reader for Writers (Pearson), which combines traditional rhetorical modes with students’ interest in



Kim has dedicated her career to helping students achieve their goals in life through communication.  Her mission has always been to teach others how to write well, which she believes is one of the most important gifts we can give our students.  She believes that reading and writing are the gateways to each student’s full potential and success in life.

Table of Contents

Rhetorical Contents

Thematic Contents

Preface to the Instructor



1. Thinking Critically

Levels of Thinking

In-Text Critical Thinking Questions

The Reading–Writing Connection


2. Reading Critically

The Reading Process

Reading Critically

Reading Checklist


3. Writing Critically

The Writing Process

Writing Critically

Writing Checklist




4. Description: Exploring Through the Senses

Defining Description

Thinking Critically Through Description

Reading and Writing Descriptive Essays

Student Essay: Description at Work

Some Final Thoughts on Description


RAY BRADBURY Summer Rituals  

The description of a simple, comforting ritual—the putting up of a front-porch swing in early summer—confirms the value of ceremony in the life of a small town.


KIMBERLY WOZENCRAFT Notes from the Country Club  

Have you ever wondered what being in prison is like? Kimberly Wozencraft takes us for a no-nonsense tour of the “correctional institution” in Kentucky that was her home for more than a year.



Do you enjoy watching people? Prairie Home Companion creator Garrison Keillor draws some hilarious conclusions about pedestrians on a busy New York City street as they jump over a small stream of water.


MALCOLM COWLEY The View from 80  

In this humorous, touching, and ultimately optimistic essay, the author introduces us to the unfamiliar “country” of old age.


NASA Mars  

Do you think we will walk on Mars during your lifetime? This description of the planet will prepare you for the next phase in our exploration of space.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



5. Narration: Telling a Story  

Defining Narration  

Thinking Critically Through Narration  

Reading and Writing Narrative Essays  

Student Essay: Narration at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Narration  


LEWIS SAWAQUAT For My Indian Daughter  

A Native American author responds to prejudice with a search for ethnic and cultural pride.


MAYA ANGELOU New Directions  

Deserted by her husband, a proud and determined Annie Johnson decides to “step off the road and cut . . . a new path” for herself.



This fascinating essay describes how Brenda Combs, a homeless crack addict, rose out of the gutter to become an award-winning schoolteacher in Phoenix.



The only daughter in a large family, Sandra Cisneros feels overwhelming pride when her father praises her skill as a writer.


RUSSELL BAKER The Saturday Evening Post  

In this autobiographical essay, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Russell Baker offers a nostalgic look at his childhood days in the small town of Morrisonville, Virginia.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



6. Example: Illustrating Ideas  

Defining Examples  

Thinking Critically Through Examples  

Reading and Writing Example Essays  

Student Essay: Examples at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Examples  


CHRISTOPHER NELSON Why We Are Looking at the “Value” of College All Wrong  

How can we measure the value of education? Christopher Nelson has some answers that do not involve economics.


RICHARD RODRIGUEZ Public and Private Language

Do you speak the same language in public that you do in private with your family and friends? Richard Rodriguez argues for the importance of both forms of communication.


HAROLD KRENTS Darkness at Noon  

How should we treat the handicapped? Blind author Harold Krents gives us a few lessons in judging people on their abilities rather than their disabilities.


RONI JACOBSON A Digital Safety Net

Can social media help detect mental illness? And if it can, how should we respond? Jacobson offers some thoughts on both of these issues.


BRENT STAPLES A Brother’s Murder  

Brent Staples’s horrifying description of his brother’s inner-city killing lays bare the decay of urban America and its effect on the young African-American men who are imprisoned there.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



7. Process Analysis: Explaining Step by Step  

Defining Process Analysis  

Thinking Critically Through Process Analysis  

Reading and Writing Process Analysis Essays  

Student Essay: Process Analysis at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Process Analysis  


JAY WALLJASPER Our Schedules, Our Selves

Are you bound to your Blackberry, enslaved to your daily routine? Jay Walljasper argues that we’ve booked ourselves so tightly that “there’s no time left for those magic, spontaneous moments that make us feel most alive.”


JESSICA MITFORD Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain  

In this chilling and macabre essay, celebrated “muckraker” Jessica Mitford exposes the greed and hypocrisy of the American mortuary business.


CAROLE KANCHIER Dare to Change Your Job and Your Life in 7 Steps  

Change is always difficult. But Kanchier offers several ways to handle change sensibly, based on interviews with others who have made positive changes in their lives.



In this excerpt from her best-selling book, the author explains how training as a domestic worker taught her that dusting furniture had an “undeniable logic and a certain kind of austere beauty.”


STEPHANIE VOZZA How to Make Friends as an Adult

Making new friends as an adult is not like our childhood relationships. But Vozza has some effective suggestions for navigating this new terrain.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



8. Division/Classification: Finding Categories  

Defining Division/Classification  

Thinking Critically Through Division/Classification

Reading and Writing Division/Classification Essays  

Student Essay: Division/Classification at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Division/Classification  


KAREN LACHTANSKI Match the Right Communication Type to the Occasion  

According to this author, good communication follows one important rule: The type of communication must fit the situation.


SARA GILBERT The Different Ways of Being Smart  

People can be smart in different ways, which Gilbert explains in this essay with examples to support her classification system.


SARAH TOLER Understanding the Birth Order Relationship  

Are you an only child? A middle child? Or the youngest in your family? According to the author, our birth order can have a powerful effect on the way we live our lives.


AMY TAN Mother Tongue  

In this provocative and intriguing article, author Amy Tan examines the relationship between her mother’s “fractured” English and her own talent as a writer.



Ever stretched the truth? Stephanie Ericsson catalogs the ten worst kinds of falsehoods, from “white lies” to “delusion.” Which is your favorite?


Chapter Writing Assignments 



9. Comparison/Contrast: Discovering Similarities and Differences  

Defining Comparison/Contrast  

Thinking Critically Through Comparison/Contrast  

Reading and Writing Comparison/Contrast Essays  

Student Essay: Comparison/Contrast at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Comparison/Contrast  


AMY CHUA Excerpt from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother  

Why do so many Asian students excel in school? According to Amy Chua, it’s because their mothers are much more demanding than their Western counterparts.


ADAM GOPNIK How Lincoln and Darwin Shaped the Modern World

What drives certain individuals to be leaders? This study of two historical figures helps us identify the characteristics of those who naturally take charge.


MOTOKO RICH Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?  

Is surfing the Net ruining our minds? New York Times reporter Motoko Rich presents a balanced and intriguing analysis of the dangers and rewards of spending too much time online.


GLORIA STEINEM The Politics of Muscle  

Feminist Gloria Steinem examines the extent to which strength means sexual power.


JOHN TIERNEY A Generation’s Vanity, Heard Through Lyrics  

Can music really characterize a generation? Tierney says it can and set out to prove it in this essay.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



10. Definition: Limiting the Frame of Reference  

Defining Definition  

Thinking Critically Through Definition  

Reading and Writing Definition Essays  

Student Essay: Definition at Work

Some Final Thoughts on Definition  


WAYNE NORMAN When Is a Sport Not a Sport?  

What makes an activity a sport? What about an Olympic sport? Norman has strong opinions to share on this topic.



Robert Ramirez lovingly describes the “feeling of family” in a typical inner-city barrio.



Everyone agrees that all bullying must be stopped, but very few have any concrete suggestions for doing so. However, Svoboda offers some guidelines we need to consider for addressing virtual assault.


MARY PIPHER Beliefs About Families  

What is a “family”? Psychologist Mary Pipher attempts to answer this intriguing question by examining the effect that different categories of family members have on our ability to function in the world around us.


DAVID HANSON Binge Drinking  

Binge drinking is a dangerous type of drinking that Hanson claims is on the decline among current college students. Do you think society deals with drinking and youth responsibly?


Chapter Writing Assignments 



11. Cause/Effect: Tracing Reasons and Results  

Defining Cause/Effect  

Thinking Critically Through Cause/Effect  

Reading and Writing Cause/Effect Essays  

Student Essay: Cause/Effect at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Cause/Effect  


STEPHEN KING Why We Crave Horror Movies  

Seen any good horror movies lately? Best-selling author Stephen King explains why we are so fascinated by films that appeal to our darker instincts.



An angry and frustrated Michael Dorris describes the long-term damage done to his adopted son, Adam, by the ravages of fetal alcohol syndrome.


DANA GIOIA On the Importance of Reading  

Why should we read literature? “Let me count the ways,” says former National Endowment for the Arts chair Dana Gioia, as he details the intellectual and spiritual nourishment conferred on us by imaginative works of art.


JOE KEOHANE How Facts Backfire  

Are you sure you’re right about that? According to Joe Keohane, the more certain we are about our opinions, the more likely it is that we are relying on “beliefs” rather than “facts.”


ART MARKMAN Can Video Games Make You Smart (Or At Least More Flexible)?  

Can video games increase your ability to learn? Markman has some evidence that demonstrates some of the positive results of these games.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



12. Argument and Persuasion: Inciting People to Thought or Action  

Defining Argument and Persuasion  

Thinking Critically Through Argument and Persuasion  

Reading and Writing Argument/Persuasion Essays  

Student Essay: Argument and Persuasion at Work  

Some Final Thoughts on Argument and Persuasion  


FRANK FUREDI Our Unhealthy Obsession with Sickness  

Are you so worried about your health that it’s making you sick? Sociologist Frank Furedi explains why the concept of “illness” is increasingly important in our modern world.


NICHOLAS CARR How the Internet Is Making Us Stupid  

How do you think the Internet is affecting your brain? Carr provides some startling evidence in this essay to prove that the Internet is dramatically changing the ways we think.


DAVE GROSSMAN We Are Training Our Kids to Kill  

Retired Col. Dave Grossman questions the role models we are creating for our kids through violence on TV. In this essay, he challenges us to regain control of child abuse, racism, and poverty in American society.


SAMANTHA PUGSLEY How Language Impacts the Stigma Against Mental Health (And What We Must Do to Change It)  

Are you aware of how people refer to mental health issues in their everyday lives? Are they always respectful of different mental illnesses in their references? Through this essay, Pugsley helps us build a sensitivity to these issues.


Opposing Viewpoints: Social Media  

JOSH ROSE How Social Media Is Having a Positive Impact on Our Culture  

SUSAN TARDANICO Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication?  


When is social media constructive? When is it destructive? Being aware of its advantages and disadvantages is part of improving our ability to communicate in society.


Opposing Viewpoints: Postconviction DNA Testing  

TIM O’BRIEN Postconviction DNA Testing Should Be Encouraged  

JAMES DAO In Same Case, DNA Clears Convict and Finds Suspect  

PETER ROFF Postconviction DNA Testing Should Not Be Encouraged  


How reliable is DNA evidence in the courtroom? Tim O’Brien, James Dao, and

Peter Roff debate the issue from three different sides.


Chapter Writing Assignments 



13. Writing in Different Genres: Combining Rhetorical Modes  


RICHARD WRIGHT The Library Card  

Set in the segregationist South, Wright’s short story illustrates the triumph of one brave man’s lust for learning over a society that seeks to keep him “in his place.”


EMMA WATSON Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too  

In this speech, Watson suggests that we all share the responsibility of gender equity. Doing so will benefit us all.



BILLY COLLINS Marginalia  

U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins praises the art of scribbled comments in the margins of books, which often reveal volumes about the people who write them.



William Stafford describes through brilliant and evocative metaphors the very moment he realized he had to be a poet.




During a hot summer in Oakland, surrounded by drug dealers and social misfits, author Jessica Anya Blau investigates the mysterious relationship between art and life.




Where does this gate lead? Let your imagination be your guide.



R-1.  Introducing the Documented Essay  

Defining Documented Essays  

Sample Documented Paragraph  

Documented Essay Reference Chart  


R-2.  Reading a Documented Essay  

Preparing to Read a Documented Essay  

Reading a Documented Essay  

Rereading a Documented Essay  

A Checklist for Reading Documented Essays  

Reading an Annotated Essay  


ALLAN GOLDSTEIN “Our Brains Are Evolving to Multitask,” Not! The Illusion of Multitasking  


R-3.  Preparing to Write Your Own Documented Essay  

Choosing a Topic  

Writing a Good, Clear Thesis Statement  


R-4.  Finding Sources  

Sources That Are Relevant, Reliable, and Recent  

Consulting Academic Databases  

Searching for Websites  

Using the Library  


R-5.  Avoiding Plagiarism  

Types of Material  

Acknowledging Your Sources  

Direct Quotation, Paraphrase, and Summary  


R-6.  Staying Organized  

Taking Notes on Sources  

Making a Working Outline  


R-7.  Writing a Documented Essay  

Writing the Introduction

Writing the Supporting Paragraphs  

Using Your Sources  

Writing Your Conclusion  

Creating Your Title

A Checklist for Writing Documented Essays  


R-8.  Documenting

Introducing Your Sources  

Documentation Format

MLA versus APA  

Sample Student References


R-9.  Revising and Editing a Documented Essay



Student Essay: Documentation at Work  


Glossary of Useful Terms  


Index of Authors and Titles


Rewards Program

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