Common Culture : Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture

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  • Edition: 4th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-01-01
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
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Common Culture, Fourth Edition, is a diverse, pop culture reader with varied cultural topics such as television, movies, sports, and computers. The text encourages you to read, think, and write about pop culture in order to help you develop critical and analytical thinking skills. Additionally, Common Culture hopes to engage you with the profound effect of popular culture on everyday life. The Fourth Edition features: bull; bull;Updated readings on advertising, popular music, television, cyberculture, sports, and movies bull;Discussions on hot topics in popular culture, including virtual reality television, sports and violence, and the cyber community bull;Focus on Reading Images-questions in every chapter help you make connections between the new color visuals and the articles bull;All new material on Writing Research in Popular Culture, including updated MLA documentation The new Common Culture, Fourth Edition, Companion Website trade; expands on the text by mirroring each of its chapters and provides an interactive environment with additional exercises and links to related Websites. Visit www.prenhall.com/petracca to view the list of new features.

Table of Contents

1. Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture.

What Is Popular Culture? Why Study Popular Culture? Active Reading. Strategies for Active Reading. An Active Reading Casebook: Three Selections about Barbie. Preparing to Read. Reading and Annotating.

Barbie's Shoes, Hilary Tham.

Rereading. Reviewing. Reading Pop Cultural Criticism.

The Indignation of Barbie, John Leo.

Reading Academic Analysis.

'Seen Through Rose-Tinted Glasses': The Barbie Doll in American Society, Marilyn Ferris Motz.

Reading Images. The Writing Process. Prewriting. Freewriting. Clustering. Outlining. Drafting. Thesis and Thesis Statement. Opening Paragraphs. Supporting Paragraphs. Evidence. Conclusions. Distancing. Revising. Revision Checklist. Sample Student Essay.

Role-Model Barbie: Now and Forever? Carolyn Muhlstein.

Writing Research on Popular Culture.

2. Advertising.

Approaches to Advertising.

The Cult You're In, Kalle Lasn. Salespeak, Roy Fox. Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals, Jib Fowles. How Advertising Informs to Our Benefit, John E. Calfee. Virtual Product Placement, Damian Ward Hey.

Images of Women and Men in Advertising.

The More You Subtract, the More You Add, Jean Kilbourne. Getting Dirty, Mark Crispin Miller. A Gentleman and a Consumer, Diane Barthel. Sex, Lies, and Advertising, Gloria Steinem.

Additional Suggestions for Writing about Advertising.

3. Television.

The Cultural Influences of Television.

Spudding Out, Barbara Ehrenreich. Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor, Robert Kubey & Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Life According to TV, Harry Waters. Interactive Television: Is It Coming or Not? John Kelly.

Interpreting Television.

Reality Television.

The Tribe Has Spoken, Rebecca Gardyn. Keeping It Real, Robert Samuels.

The Simpsons.

The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family, Paul A. Cantor. The Evolution of the Seven Deadly Sins: From God to the Simpsons, Lisa Frank.

Additional Suggestions for Writing about Television.

4. Popular Music.

Stars and Fans: Constructions of Culture and Counter-Culture.

I'm Just a Louisiana Girl: The Southern World of Britney Spears, Gavin James Campbell. Napster: Catalyst for a New Industry or Just Another Dot.com? Michael Slinger and Amy Hillman. Marilyn Manson and the Apt Pupils of Littleton, Gary Burns. Deadheads Yesterday and Today: An Audience Study, Melissa McCray Pattacini.

Rap and Hip-Hop: A Casebook.

Rap, Black Rage, and Racial Difference, Steven Best & Douglas Kellner. Hip-Hop Nation: There's More to Rap Than Just Rhythms and Rhymes, Melissa August, Leslie Everton Brice, Laird Harrison, Todd Murphy, & David E. Thigpen. The Miseducation of Hip-Hop, Evelyn Jamilah. Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, Polly E. McLean.

Additional Suggestions for Writing about Music.

5. Cyberculture.

Life on the Internet.

The Self in the Age of Information, Kenneth Gergen. Cyberhood vs. Neighborhood, John Perry Barlow. Virtuality and Its Discontents, Sherry Turkle. The Virtual Barrio @ the Other Frontier (Or the Chicago Interneta), Guillermo Gomez-Pena.

Computers in the Classroom.

The Learning Revolution, Claudia Wallis. Virtual Students, Digital Classrooms, Neil Postman. Undergraduate Teaching in the Electronic Age, Richard A. Lanham. Internet Use and Collegiate Academic Performance Decrements: Early Findings, Robert W. Kubey, Michael J. Lavin, & John R. Barrows.

Additional Suggestions for Writing about Cyberculture.

6. Sports.

The Role of Sports in America.

The Sports Market is Looking Soggy, John D. Solomon. The Next Generation in Sport: Y, Choonghoon Lim & Douglas Michele Turco. Why Men Fear Women's Teams, Kate Rounds. The Sociology of Sport, T.R. Young. Geographical Relocation, Suicide, and Homicide, Robert M. Fernquist.

Analyzing Sports.

Champion of the World, Maya Angelou. Tiger Time: The Wonder of an American Hero, Jay Nordinger. Good to the Last Drop: Understanding Surfers' Motivations, Steven L. Butts. Life on the Edge, William Dowell et al (Time Magazine). Risk, Paul Roberts.

Additional Suggestions for Writing about Sports.

7. Movies.

Moviemaking, Film Criticism, and Distribution.

The Way We Are, Sydney Pollack. Film Criticism, Mark J. Schaefermeyer. Film Criticism in America Today: A Critical Symposium, David Ansen et al (Cineaste). The Distribution of Black Films, Lynne D. Johnson.

The Horror Movie.

Why We Crave Horror Movies, Stephen King. Monster Movies: A Sexual Theory, Walter Evans. The Blair Witch Project Project, J.P. Telotte. The 'Witchcraft' of Media Manipulation: Pamela and the Blair Witch Project, Martin Harris.

Additional Suggestions for Writing about Movies.

For Further Reading: A Popular Culture Bibliography.
Index by Rhetorical Mode.
Index by Academic Discipline.
Index by Author and Title.


When we started teaching composition courses that examined television, pop music, movies, and other media-generated artifacts, we looked for a text that would cover a full range of topics in the field of popular culture from a variety of theoretical perspectives. We discovered that no satisfactory text existed, and therefore we began putting together assignments and reading materials to meet our needs. From this compilationCommon Cultureemerged. The more we've taught writing courses based on popular culture, the more convinced we've become that such courses are especially appealing for students and effective in improving their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Students come into the writing classroom already immersed in the culture of Britney, Benetton, Beastie Boys, and Barry Bonds. The advantage, then, is that we don't have to "sell" the subject matter of the course and can concentrate on the task at hand--namely, teaching students to think critically and to write clear and effective prose. Obviously, a course that panders to the lowest common denominator of students' taste would be a mindless, unproductive enterprise for all concerned. However, the underlying philosophy of a pop culture-based writing course is this: By reading, thinking, and writing about material they find inherently interesting, students develop their critical and analytical skills--skills which are, of course, crucial to their success in college. Although students are already familiar with the many aspects of popular culture, few have directed sustained, critical thought to its influence or implications--that is, to what shopping malls might tell them about contemporary culture or to what they've actually learned from watching "The Jerry Springer Show." Because television shows, advertisements, and music videos, for example, are highly crafted artifacts, they are particularly susceptible to analysis; and because so much in contemporary culture is open to interpretation and controversy, students enjoy the opportunity to articulate and argue for their own interpretations of objects and institutions in the world around them. Although popular culture is undeniably a sexy (or, at least, lively) subject, it has also, in the past decade, become accepted as a legitimate object of academic discourse. While some may contend that it's frivolous to write a dissertation on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," most scholars recognize the importance of studying the artifacts and institutions of contemporary life. Popular culture is a rich field of study, drawing in researchers from a variety of disciplines. Because it is also a very inviting field of study for students, a textbook that addresses this subject in a comprehensive and challenging way will be especially appealing both to them and to their writing teachers. Common Culture,fourth edition, contains an introductory chapter that walks students through one assignment--in this case, focusing on the Barbie doll--with step-by-step instruction in reading carefully and writing effectively. The chapters that follow open with a relevant and catchy cultural artifact (for example, a cartoon, an ad, an album cover) that leads into a reader-friendly, informative introduction; a selection of engaging essays on an issue of current interest in the field of pop culture; carefully constructed reading and discussion questions; and writing assignments after each reading and at the end of the chapter. This fourth edition also contains new sections on visual literacy and conducting research on popular culture, along with a selection of color and black & white images that students can analyze and enjoy. Common Cultureapproaches the field of popular culture by dividing it into its constituent parts. The book contains chapters on advertising, television, music, cyberculture, sports, and movies. Most of the chapters are divided into tw

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