Acting Out Culture Readings for Critical Inquiry

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-11-07
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Cultural messages bombard students daily, laden with unstated rules about what makes our work valuable, our bodies ideal, our connections meaningful. Acting Out Culture empowers students to critically read those messages and use writing to speak back to their culture and question its rules.

This book appeals especially to those students who are not full participants in the dominant culture, as well as to their instructors, who want to help students see how subtle (and not so subtle) cultural forces can shape their lives—and how they can challenge and resist those forces. The new edition of Acting Out Culture builds on that success, with provocative readings (more than 50 percent of them new) that challenge the rules we live by; pedagogical tools to encourage students to read, think, and write critically about their culture; and instructional support featuring sample syllabi, additional discussion topics, and ideas for teaching with visuals and online content.

Author Biography

James S. Miller is an associate professor of American Studies and American Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches a range of courses on twentieth-century popular and literary culture. His scholarship focuses on issues of public memory and middle-class identity in twentieth-century America, as well as the role of commodity culture in shaping historical consciousness. His essays exploring these topics have appeared in such journals as American Studies, the Journal of American Folklore and The Public Historian. The University of Michigan Press published his book, Managerial Memory: History, Heritage and the Invention of White-Collar Roots, in 2008.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors

Introduction: How We Read and Write About Culture (and How We Ought To)

These Are the Rules


> Commas

> Fragments

> Run-ons and comma splices

> Active and passive voice

> Appropriate language

> Subject-verb agreement

> Working with sources (MLA)

> Working with sources (APA)

Norms, Scripts, Roles, Rules: Analyzing Popular Culture


> Topic sentences and supporting details

> Topics and main ideas

How Culture Shapes Us: Rules of the Road

The World in Words

Guided Reading: Anne Trubek’s "Stop Teaching Handwriting" [annotated essay]

A Student’s Response to Trubek: Jordan Radziecki, "Don’t Erase Handwriting" [student essay]


> Working with Sources

 > Do I need to cite that?

> How to cite a book in MLA style

> How to cite an article in MLA style

> How to cite a database in MLA style

> How to cite a Web site in MLA style

> How to cite a database in APA style

> How to cite a Web site in APA style

Reading Multimodal Texts


 > Critical reading


> Critical Reading

 > Active reading strategies

Making Yourself Heard

Edudemic.com Anti-Bullying Public Service Announcement [video]


Chapter 1: How We Believe: In what ways does what we know shape our daily actions?


*Stephen Asma, Green Guilt

Ty Burr, Faces in the Mirror

*Michael Sandel, Markets and Morals

Rule Maker/Rule Breaker: Holiday Shopping vs. Buy Nothing Christmas

*Michael Eric Dyson, Understanding Black Patriotism

*Katie Roiphe, In Defense of Single Motherhood

Then and Now: Feeling (In)Secure

David Brooks, People Like Us

Debra J. Dickerson, The Great White Way

*Amitava Kumar, The Restoration of Faith

*Tying It All Together

Scenes and Un-Scenes: Political Protest

Putting It Into Practice: Scripting Belief

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, The Context of Our Character [video]


Chapter 2: How We Watch: Does what we see depend on how we’re looking?



> Critical Reading

> Reading visuals: Purpose

> Reading visuals: Audience

*Jessica Bennett, The Flip Side of Internet Fame

Rule Maker/Rule Breaker: J. Rupert Thompson vs. Kelly Bensimon

Harriet McBryde Johnson, Unspeakable Conversations

*Virginia Heffernan, The Attention Span Myth

*Don Tapscott, Should We Ditch the Idea of Privacy?

*John Paul Titlow, #Me: Instagram Narcissism and the Scourge of the Selfie

*Heather Havrilesky, Some Girls Are Better Than Others

Then and Now: Wearing Your Identity on Your Sleeve

*Charles Duhigg, How Companies Learn Your Secrets

Naomi Klein, Patriarchy Gets Funky

*Tying It All Together

Scenes and Un-Scenes: Picturing Disaster

Putting It Into Practice: Keeping an Eye Out

Linda Stone, On Continuous Partial Attention [video]


Chapter 3: How We Eat: Which rules dictate the foods we put in our bodies?


*Nicholas Kristof, Prudence or Cruelty

Rule Maker/Rule Breaker: Whole Foods vs. Michael Pollan

*Paul Schwennesen, The Ethics of Eating Meat

Francine Prose, The Wages of Sin

Caroline Knapp, Add Cake, Subtract Self-Esteem

*Brendan Buhler, On Eating Roadkill

Then and Now: How to Make Meatloaf

*Erika Nicole Kendall, No Myths Here: Food Stamps, Food Deserts, and Food Scarcity

*Tracie McMillan, Food’s Class Warfare

*Sam Dolnick, The Obesity-Hunger Paradox

*Tying It All Together

Scenes and Un-Scenes: Giving Thanks

Putting It Into Practice: Consumer Profiling

Casey Neistat, Calorie Detective [video]

Chapter 4: How We Learn: What are our perceptions of knowledge and the ways we should acquire that knowledge?



 > Digital Writing

> Online Research Tools

Alfie Kohn, From Degrading to De-Grading

Then and Now: Encyclopedic Knowledge

*Kristina Rizga, Everything You’ve Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong

John Taylor Gatto, Against School

Mike Rose, Blue-Collar Brilliance

bell hooks, Learning in the Shadow of Race and Class

*Rachel Toor, Unconscious Plagiarism

Jonathan Kozol, Preparing Minds for Markets

Rule Maker/Rule Breaker: The White House vs. Jonathan Kozol

*Dan Hurley, Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

*Tying It All Together

Scenes and Un-Scenes: Looking at Learning

Putting It Into Practice: Educational Scripts

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, The Heart of the Matter [video]

Chapter 5: How We Work: What do our jobs say about us?



> Digital Writing

> Job Search/Personal Branding

Louis Uchitelle, The Consequences—Undoing Sanity

Anthony DePalma, Fifteen Years on the Bottom Rung

Matthew B. Crawford, The Case for Working With Your Hands

*Barbara Ehrenreich, How the Poor Are Made to Pay for their Poverty

Rule Maker/Rule Breaker: Wal-Mart vs. The Center for Workplace Fairness

*Catherine Rampell, A Generation of Slackers? Not So Much

Then and Now: Dressing for Success

*Mac McClelland, I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave

*Ashley Nelson, Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

*Arlie Russell Hochschild, Our Baby, Her Womb

*Tying It All Together

Scenes and Un-Scenes: A Woman’s Work

Putting It Into Practice: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Lauren Orsini, WorkHands Wants to Become the Blue-Collar LinkedIn [multi-modal reading]

Chapter 6: How We Connect: What forces help—and hinder—our relationships with others?



 > Digital Writing

 > Photo Editing Basics with GIMP

> Audio Editing with Audacity

> Presentations

> Word Processing

*Curtis Miller, The Quagmire of Social Media Friendships

*Evgeny Morozov, Open and Closed

Joel Kotkin, There’s No Place Like Home

Peter Lovenheim, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Then and Now: Personal Shopping

*Keith O’Brien, The Empathy Deficit

Rule Maker/Rule Breaker: Barack Obama vs. Rush Limbaugh

*Nathan Jurgenson, Pics and It Didn’t Happen

*Hanna Rosin, The Touch Screen Generation

*Claire Suddath, Digital Detox: A Tech-Free Retreat for Internet Addicts

*Tying It All Together

Scenes and Un-Scenes: "Hello, Neighbor"

Putting It Into Practice: The More Things Change…

Casey Neistat, Texting While Walking [video]

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