50 Essays : A Portable Anthology

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-11-06
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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50 Essays: A Portable Anthologydirectly addresses students' and instructors' concerns that composition readers are too expensive and too large. With a net price of $21, less than half the size and price of comparable readers,50 Essaysmeets the needs of a wide variety of classrooms. The carefully chosen table of contents presents enough familiarity to reassure instructors, enough novelty to keep things interesting, and enough variety to accommodate many different teaching needs. The editorial apparatus has been designed to support that variety of needs without being intrusive. In its second edition,50 Essayscontinues to offer selections that instructors love to teach, with even more flexibility and more support for academic writing.

Author Biography

SAMUEL COHEN (Ph.D., City University of New York) is an assistant  professor in the English Department at the University of Missouri – Columbia. He has published in such journals as The Journal of Basic Writing, Dialogue: A Journal for Writing Specialists, Clio, and Twentieth-Century Literature,  and is at work on a monograph,  After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors v
Alternate Tables of Contents
By Theme
By Paired Readings and Casebooks
By Rhetorical Mode
By Purpose
By Chronological Order
Introduction for Students: Active Reading, Critical Thinking, and the Writing Process 1(10)
SHERMAN ALEXIE, The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me 11(5)
"I read anything that had words and paragraphs.
I read with equal parts joy and desperation.
I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose.
I was trying to save my life."
MAYA ANGELOU, Graduation 16(13)
"I was no longer simply a member of the proud graduating class of 1940; I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race."
NATALIE ANGIER, Men, Women, Sex, and Darwin 29(14)
"I'm not interested in explaining to men what they really want or how they should behave....I'm only proposing here that the hard-core evolutionary psychologists have got a lot about women wrong...."
GLORIA ANZALDÚA, How to Tame a Wild Tongue 43(13)
"Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity—I am my language.
Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself."
BARBARA LAZEAR ASCHER, On Compassion 56(4)
"Compassion is not a character trait like a sunny disposition.
It must be learned, and it is learned by having adversity at our windows...."
JAMES BALDWIN, Notes of a Native Son 60(22)
"...I had had time to become aware of the meaning of all my father's bitter warnings, had discovered the secret of his proudly pursed lips and rigid carriage: I had discovered the weight of white people in the world."
DAVE BARRY, Lost in the Kitchen 82(3)
"Men are still basically scum when it comes to helping out in the kitchen."
SUSAN BORDO, Never Just Pictures 85(8)
"[Y]es, the causes of eating disorders are 'deeper' than just obedience to images.
But cultural images themselves are deep."
BILL BRYSON, How You Became You 93(4)
"Welcome. And congratulations.
I am delighted that you could make it.
Getting here wasn't easy, I know.
In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize."
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR., Why Don't We Complain? 97(7)
"I think the observable reluctance of the majority of Americans to assert themselves in minor matters is related to our increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology and centralized political and economic power."
STEPHEN L. CARTER, The Insufficiency of Honesty 104(8)
"Integrity is like the weather: everybody talks about it but nobody knows what to do about it...Hardly anybody stops to explain what we mean by it, or how we know it is a good thing, or why everybody needs to have the same amount of it."
JUDITH ORTIZ COFER, The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria 112(8)
"...You can leave the Island, master the English language, and travel as far as you can, but if you are a Latina...the Island travels with you."
BERNARD COOPER, A Clack of Tiny Sparks: Remembrances of a Gay Boyhood 120(11)
"...I became the scientist of my own desire, plotting ways to change my yearning for boys into a yearning for girls.
I had enough evidence to believe that any habit, regardless of how compulsive, how deeply ingrained, could be broken once and for all...."
JOAN DIDION, On Keeping a Notebook 131(8)
"The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself."
ANNIE DILLARD, Death of a Moth 139(5)
"A golden female moth, a biggish one with a two-inch wingspan, flapped into the fire, dropped her abdomen into the wet wax, stuck, flamed, frazzled and fried in a second."
FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Learning to Read and Write 144(7)
"...I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing.
It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy."
BARBARA EHRENREICH, Serving in Florida 151(10)
"You might imagine, from a comfortable distance, that people who live, year in and year out, on $6 to $10 an hour have discovered some survival stratagems unknown to the middle class.
But no...."
LARS EIGHNER, On Dumpster Diving 161(13)
"I am a scavenger.
I think it a sound and honorable niche, although if I could I would naturally prefer to live the comfortable consumer life, perhaps—and only perhaps—as a slightly less wasteful consumer owing to what I have learned as a scavenger."
STEPHANIE ERICSSON, The Ways We Lie 174(10)
"...[I]t's not easy to entirely eliminate lies from our lives.
No matter how pious we may try to be, we will still embellish, hedge, and omit to lubricate the daily machinery of living."
STEPHEN JAY GOULD, Women's Brains 184(8)
...[S]cience is an inferential exercise, not a catalog of facts.
Numbers, by themselves, specify nothing.
All depends upon what you do with them."
VICKI HEARNE, What's Wrong with Animal Rights? 192(11)
"The questions asked by animal-rights activists are flawed, because they are built on the concept that the origin of rights is in the avoidance of suffering rather than in the pursuit of happiness."
LANGSTON HUGHES, Salvation 203(3)
"'Langston, why don't you come? Why don't you come and be saved? Oh, Lamb of God! Why don't you come?"
ZORA NEALE HURSTON, How It Feels to Be Colored Me 206(5)
"I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored.
I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries.
My country, right or wrong."
THOMAS JEFFERSON, The Declaration of Independence 211(9)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., Letter from Birmingham Jail 220(18)
"I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."
MAXINE HONG KINGSTON, No Name Woman 238(13)
"Those of us in the first American generations have had to figure out how the invisible world the emigrant built around our childhoods fit in solid America."
ERIC LIU, Notes of a Native Speaker 251(16)
"I never asked to be white.
I am not literally white....But like so many other Asian Americans of the second generation, I find myself now the bearer of a strange new status: white, by acclamation."
NANCY MAIRS, On Being a Cripple 267(14)
"People— crippled or not—wince at the word 'cripple,' as they do not at 'handicapped' or 'disabled.' Perhaps I want them to wince."
MALCOLM X, Learning to Read 281(10)
"...[T]he ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.
I certainly wasn't seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students."
N. SCOTT MOMADAY, The Way to Rainy Mountain 291(7)
"A single knoll rises out of the plain in Oklahoma, north and west of the Wichita Range.
For my people, the Kiowas, it is an old landmark, and they gave it the name Rainy Mountain."
BHARATI MUKHERJEE, Two Ways to Belong in America 298(4)
"This is a tale of two sisters from Calcutta, Mira and Bharati, who have lived in the United States for some 35 years, but who find themselves on different sides in the current debate over the status of immigrants."
GEORGE ORWELL, Shooting an Elephant 302(8)
"It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism—the real motives for which despotic governments act."
PLATO, Crito 310(16)
"'Our real duty, I fancy, since the argument leads that way, is to consider one question only...Shall we be acting rightly in paying money and showing gratitude to these people who are going to rescue me, and in escaping or arranging the escape ourselves, or shall we really be acting wrongly in doing all this?"
RICHARD RODRIGUEZ, Aria: Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood 326(24)
"Because I wrongly imagined that English was intrinsically a public language and Spanish an intrinsically private one, I easily noted the difference between classroom language and the language of home."
MIKE ROSE, "I Just Wanna Be Average" 350(15)
"Students will float to the mark you set.
I and the others in the vocational classes were bobbing in pretty shallow water."
EDWARD SAID, Clashing Civilizations? 365(4)
"This is the problem with unedifying labels such as Islam and the West: They mislead and confuse the mind, which is trying to make sense of a disorderly reality that won't be pigeonholed."
SCOTT RUSSELL SANDERS, The Inheritance of Tools 369(9)
"The tools in my workbench are a double inheritance, for each hammer and level and saw is wrapped in a cloud of knowing."
DAVID SEDARIS, Me Talk Pretty One Day 378(6)
"The first day of class was nerve-racking because I knew I'd be expected to perform.
That's the way they do it here—it's everybody into the language pool, sink or swim."
PETER SINGER, Animal Liberation 384(16)
"If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration, and, indeed, to count it equally with the like suffering (if rough comparisons can be made) of any other being."
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions 400(4)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal...."
BRENT STAPLES, Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space 404(4)
"Over the years, I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal.
Not to do so would surely have led to madness."
JONATHAN SWIFT, A Modest Proposal 408(9)
"...I propose to provide for [poor infants] in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands."
AMY TAN, Mother Tongue 417(7)
"I am fascinated by language in daily life.
I spend a great deal of my time thinking about the power of language—the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth.
Language is the tool of my trade.
And I use them all—all the Englishes I grew up with."
HENRY DAVID THOREAU, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For 424(7)
"When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality."
SOJOURNER TRUTH, Ain't I a Woman? 431(2)
"I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me.
And ain't I a woman?"
SARAH VOWELL, Shooting Dad 433(8)
"We're older now, my dad and I.
The older I get, the more I'm interested in becoming a better daughter.
First on my list: Figure out the whole gun thing."
ALICE WALKER, Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self 441(9)
"That night, as I do almost every night, I abuse my eye.
I rant and rave at it, in front of the mirror.
I plead with it to clear up before morning.
I tell it I hate and despise it.
I do not pray for sight.
I pray for beauty."
E.B. WHITE, Once More to the Lake 450(7)
"Summertime, oh, summertime, pattern of life indelible, the fade-proof lake, the woods unshatterable, the pasture with the sweetfern and the juniper forever and ever, summer without end...."
MARIE WINN, Television: The Plug-In Drug 457(10)
"...Isn't there a better family life available than this dismal, mechanized arrangement of children watching television for however long is allowed them, evening after evening?"
VIRGINIA WOOLF, The Death of the Moth 467(4)
"It was as if someone had taken a tiny bead of pure life and decking it as lightly as possible with down and feathers, had set it dancing and zig-zagging to show us the true nature of life."
Documentation Guide 471(6)
Glossary of Writing Terms 477(12)
Index of Authors and Titles 489

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