The Contemporary Reader

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1998-07-01
  • Publisher: Pearson College Div
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The Contemporary Reader reader includes more contemporary selections than any other popular culture reader on the market with over 90% of the readings written in the last five years. The text's ten tightly focused thematic chapters cover a range of writing on interesting issues familiar to students and relevant to our times." Readings are organized around a variety of appealing, thought-provoking themes such as " Fashion and Flesh: The Images We Project, " " Advertising: Wanting It, Selling It, " " On the Cutting Edge of Science: Human Cloning and Genetic Engineering, " " Making the Grade: Education Today, " " Gender Perceptions, " and " The American Experience."

Table of Contents

Rhetorical Contents xvi(5)
Preface xxi
Introduction: How to Read Critically 1(2)
Why Read Critically 2(1)
How to Read Critically 3(1)
Sample Essay for Analysis 3(1)
A No-Fault Holocaust 3(19)
John Leo
Keeping a Journal on What You Read 5(1)
Annotate What You Read 6(3)
Outline What You Read 9(2)
Summarize What You Read 11(1)
Question What You Read 12(2)
Analyze What You Read 14(8)
1 Fashion and Flesh: The Images We Project
The Beefcaking of America A "seismic shift" in gender roles is turning men into objects of desire, a role traditionally held by women.
Jill Neimark
Three for the Stripes "People from the inner city as I know it, myself included, have made fashion more than a fashion statement. In our isolation from the mainstream, we've made it a statement of identity, of who we are."
Michael Fitzpatrick (student essay)
Baggy Clothes Don't Make the Man "If you see a young man in a thug suit, might a person not fairly take that man to be a thug?"
Leonard Pitts
The Body Myth Do images of superthin fashion models lead to eating disorders? Some feminists say Yes! But, Not so! declares this Vogue magazine editor.
Rebecca Johnson
Letters to Editor of Vogue in Response to "The Body Myth"
Anna Silver
Chantelle M. Jenkins
Carolyn Costin
Natasza and Karolina Holowatinc
A. C.
Burning Desire to Be Slimmer Is a Slow Suicide "Peer under the rock of young white women's infatuation with cigarettes, and guess what crawls out? Social pressure to be thin."
Barbara Brotman
The Eye of the Beholder This young Asian-American woman learns the price of conforming to Western standards of beauty by paying the vanity fare.
Grace Suh
The Other Body: Reflections on Difference, Disability and Identity Politics "Of all the ways of becoming `other' in our society, disability is the only one that can happen to anyone, in an instant, transforming that person's life and identity forever.
Ynestra King
Believers in Search of Piercing Insight As more of today's teens and twenty-somethings are having their bodies pierced, one wonders if the trend is an expression of individuality, or just another follow the-crowd phenomenon.
D. James Romero
2 Advertising: Feeding Our Fantasies
Spend and Save "We get two sets of messages coming at us every day. One says, buy, spend, get it now, indulge yourself. The other says, work hard, save, defer gratification, curb your impulses."
Barbara Ehrenreich
But First, a Word from Our Sponsor Advertising, the author argues, has become the single most important manufacturer of meaning in America today.
James B. Twitchell
Hey Kids, Buy This! Is Madison Avenue taking "Get 'em while they're young" too far?
David Leonhardt
Kathleen Kerwin
Mr. Clean A whiff of today's man says he's sweet, sexy, and antiseptic.
Mary Tannen
Choking on Hype "I love the smell of cigars. It reminds me of my grandpa just before he died."
Paula Poundstone
Snuggle Bear Must Die! "A lot of you really hate certain ads, to the point where you fantasize about violence."
Dave Barry
With These Words I Can Sell You Anything "Advertisers use weasel words to appear to be making a claim for a product when in fact they are making no claim at all."
William Lutz
The Language of Advertising "The language of advertising is... a language of finely engineered, ruthlessly purposeful messages."
Charles A. O'Neill
Sample Ads and Study Questions
Clif Bar
Don Diegos
U.S. Army
3 Television: Friend or Foe?
Sex and Today's Single-Minded Sitcoms Since 1970, television has lost its innocence in a big, and often boring, way. Can't anyone look elsewhere for laughs?
Nancy Hass
TV Talk Shows: Freak Parades Daytime talk shows bring the carnival sideshow to America's living rooms.
Charles Oliver
Watching the Eyewitless News "When you turn on the news, whether at home or in an airport or Holiday Inn in some totally strange locale, you see a predictable, comforting spectacle."
Elayne Rapping
The Problem with Black T.V. "Blacks are increasingly pigeonholed in simpleminded comedies."
Frederick L. McKissack Jr.
Gays, Lesbians, and the Media: The Slow Road to Acceptance "Why, when there are gay characters in movies, sitcoms, talk shows, and soap operas, are there not openly gay and lesbian TV anchorpeople and news reporters?"
Barbara Raab
In Defense of Prime Time Television's best shows give us morality plays of everyday life.
Martha Bayles
Into the Heart of Darkness The X-Files and Millennium are tapping into our collective unconscious-and forcing us to confront our greatest fears.
Terrence Rafferty
Turn Off the TV Before It Ruins Us "TV is an open sewer running into the minds of the impressionable, and progressively desensitized, young."
David Nyhan
Remote Control: How to Raise a Media Skeptic "Studies show that the simple act of... talking to your child about what's on television and why it's on there... is one of the most important factors in helping children understand and distance themselves from some of the box's more repugnant imagery."
Susan Douglas
4 Gender Battles on the Big Screen
Women on the Big Screen "For all the understandable clamor for `positive' role models and representations, the movies in which female virtue and talent were rewarded... ran the gamut from forgettable to annoying to inane."
Elayne Rapping
Hostages to Sexism "We like our damsels in distress. Not out of sweet chivalry so much as out of habit..."
Leonard Pitts
Hasta la Vista, Arnold After decades of being damsels in distress, women in the movies are finally getting a piece of the action.
Margaret Talbot
The Masculine Mystique-An Interview of Sylvester Stallone Playing the movie action hero "is a painful kind of empty experience... You are a piece of celebrity machinery." So says this contemporary cinematic man-god who confesses to being a creature in gender crisis.
Susan Faludi
Redesigning Pocahontas "Pocahontas thus reinforces another resilient stereotype that the main purpose of a Disney heroine is to further the interests in love...."
Gary Edgerton
Kathy Merlock Jackson
Silencing of the Feminine Although it was celebrated as a feminist triumph, the Academy Award-winning film Silence of the Lambs, upon closer examination of its visual elements, reveals "some disturbing gender constructions."
Lynn Dornink (student essay)
Breathing Easier with a Rare Film One reason for the popularity of the movie Waiting to Exhale "is that black women are starved to see themselves portrayed in motion pictures as real people, with the whole range of human emotions."
Dorothy Gilliam
Mock Feminism "The film Waiting to Exhale took the novelistic images of professional black women concerned with issues of racial uplift and gender equality and turned them into a progression of racist, sexist stereotypes...."
bell hooks
5 Pop Icons
Where Are the Heroes? "Sports is one of the last places where those myths [of the hero] can be experienced."
Ed Siegel
Heroine Worship: The Age of the Female Icon "In the spirit of post-modernism, we piece our selves together, assembling the examples of several women in a single personality-a process that makes for some unprecedented combinations, like Madonna: the siren who lifts weights and becomes a mother."
Holly Brubach
Princess Diana: Her True Face "There have been other modern legends, of course-Marilyn Monroe, Princess Grace, Jacqueline Onassis. But no other woman so captured the Zeitgeist of this particular age than Diana."
Andrew Morton
Selena: A Legend Grows and So Does an Industry Selena, killed at 23, is becoming as much an icon to her fans as Elvis Presley has become to his.
Larry Rohter
Amelia Earhart: The Lady Vanishes "Amelia Earhart symbolizes modern woman's invasion of the male world of daring adventure."
Camille Paglia
Rare Jordan "When this country looks at [Michael] Jordan, it sees its dreams, obsessions-even its fears."
Nelson George
John Wayne: America's Favorite Icon "The strength of Wayne was that he embodied our deepest myth-that of the frontier."
Garry Wills
Xena: She's Big, Tall, Strong-and Popular "Many feminists have been dreaming of mass-culture moments like this since feminism came into being."
Donna Minkowitz
Barbie Doll More than a simple plastic doll, Barbie has been an icon to young girls for 40 years. But as this poem powerfully reveals, she also embodies subtle social forces that forge one's self-image.
Marge Piercy
6 America's Many Cultures
The Revolt of the Black Bourgeoisie "Imagine being told by your peers, the records you hear, the programs you watch,...classmates, prospective employers...that in order to be your true self you must be ignorant and poor."
Leonce Gaiter
Crimes Against Humanity "Understand that the treatment of Indians in American popular culture is not `cute' or `amusing' or just `good clean fun.'"
Ward Churchill
Getting to Know About You and Me "Nobody was deliberately rude or anti-Semitic, but I got the feeling that I was representing the entire Jewish people through my actions."
Chana Schoenberger (student essay)
Innocent and Presumed Ethnic "My father's parents were born in Italy, my mother is of German-French descent. The family name was modestly changed at Ellis Island: Y instead of I. Go figure."
John Yemma
A Puerto Rican Stew To Mami, the trip north made her "American." But she found her own recipe for identity.
Esmeralda Santiago
Secrets and Anger The author wonders what his daughter will face growing up a Japanese American in a predominantly white culture.
David Mura
Cultural Baggage Perhaps the ideal cultural heritage is not one based on ethnicity or religion, but one made up of attributes like "skepticism, curiosity, and wide-eyed ecumenical tolerance."
Barbara Ehrenreich
7 Is English-Only Spoken Here?
One Nation, One Language, One Ballot "The federal mandate for bilingual ballots represents a dangerous experiment in deconstructing our American identity."
John Silber
What's So American About English? "Making English our national language suggests that we are Americans only to the extent to which we know English."
Andrew Ward
Seeking Unity in Diversity "To claim that every citizen has a right to communicate with the institutions of the state in his native language would only lead us back to the Tower of Babel."
Rolando Flores Acosta
English Only-For the Kids' Sake The explosive growth and mobility of nonnative-speaking children demands one approach.
Carol Jago
Mute in an English-Only World "Having been raised in a Korean immigrant family, I saw every day the exacting price and power of language, especially with my mother, who was an outsider in an English-only world."
Chang-rae Lee
English Plus, Not English Only The Canadian experience teaches that English-only is not the right solution to America's growing problem.
Michael E. Dickstein
8 Democracy, Community, and Cyberspace
The Virtual Community Computer networking can help bring community back to the center of modern life.
Howard Rheingold
The Web: Infotopia or Marketplace? Advertisements are proliferating in the Webzines. "Cyberstores" offer CDs, both musical and financial. New technologies are fostering direct transactions.
Peter McGrath
Cyberspace: If You Don't Love it, Leave it "What makes cyberspace so alluring is precisely the way in which it's different from shopping malls, television, highways and other terrestrial jurisdictions."
Esther Dyson
The Haves and the Have-Nots "Like it or not, America is a land of inequities. And technology, despite its potential to level the social landscape, is not yet blind to race, wealth and age."
LynNell Hancock
Children in the Digital Age Access isn't the only challenge; the quality of the new media culture for children also raises concern.
Kathryn C. Montgomery
The Digital Scapegoat Television coverage that's obsessed with Internet scare stories really puts this author "over the top."
Bill Machrone
9 The Family in Flux
Oh, Those Family Values "Only with the occasional celebrity crime do we allow ourselves to think the nearly unthinkable: that the family may not be the ideal and perfect living arrangement after all--that it can be a nest of pathology and a cradle of of gruesome violence."
Barbara Ehrenreich
Relatively Speaking The author and her husband, each remarried, have 13 children between them. The upcoming wedding of their divorced daughter and mother of two leads the author to rethink the concept of family.
Jan Borst
Rethinking Divorce The widespread incidence of divorce in U.S. society needs to be stemmed because of the negative impact of divorce upon children particularly and upon the overall fabric of the culture generally.
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead
The New Nostalgia "We are already raising a generation of children in two-earner families; if we really want them to be stressed, let's tell them that what we are doing is all wrong, that what we should be doing was what their grandparents did in the 1950s...."
Rosalind C. Barnett
Caryl Rivers
Single Mothers: A Menace to Society? First the Republicans, now the Democrats. Everyone's blaming society's ills on single moms. The author is one, and she's tired of taking the heat.
Stephanie Coontz
On Black Fathering "For black men to reach that level of maturity and understanding is almost miraculous given the dehumanizing context for black men, and yet millions and millions have done it."
Cornel West
Let Gays Marry "It seeks merely to promote monogamy...and the disciplines of family life among people who have long been cast to the margins of society."
Andrew Sullivan
Leave Marriage Alone "Marriage is not an arbitrary construct which can be redefined simply by those who lay claim to it."
William Bennett
10 Young and Criminal
The Culture of Violence "[L]ike many warrior societies, we have a long tradition of raising our boys to be tough, emotionally detached, deeply competitive, and concerned with dominance."
Myriam Miedzian
Giving Up on the Young "Society wants to kill these kids.... The death penalty. Shooting them in the street. If it can't do that, then killing their spirit."
Mike Males
Faye Docuyanan
Putting the Brakes on Juvenile Crime "Support of prevention programs combined with stiff sanctions for the most resistant juvenile offenders is the most effective crime fighting approach."
Ralph C. Martin II
William D. O'Leary
Peace in the Streets Want a safer world for our kids? Here are some practical suggestions from Harlem.
Geoffrey Canada
Johnny, Take Your Drug Test! "The irony is that kids in deepest trouble are least likely to volunteer the evidence into their parents' plastic vial."
Ellen Goodman
Youth Crime Has Changed--And So Must the Juvenile Justice System "[J]uveniles are committing brutal crimes with such numbing regularity that it takes the most shocking failures of the juvenile justice system to respond to dramatize the out-of-touch mentality underlying it."
Tom Reilly
Cruel Punishment for Juveniles "The truth is that the get-tough approach is being driven by a few highly publicized cases that do not reflect the reality of most juvenile crime."
Abbe Smith
Lael E.H. Chester
11 Work: What's in It for Me?
Getting Started "Not only must today's young endure a larger-than-usual share of the uncertainties of starting out, but they must contemplate a future that seems truncated and unpromising."
Paul Osterman
Having It All "Working harder just to climb the corporate ladder and acquire more economics sources no longer seems as appealing as it once did."
Robert Wuthnow
Generation Xers and Their American Dream Shunning 70-hour work weeks, Generation Xers are defining their own American Dream.
Jennifer Singer
Measuring Success Our notions of what it means to be successful change over time, often in unexpected ways.
Renee Loth
There's No Place Like Work Americans say they want more time with their families. The truth is, they'd rather be at the office.
Arlie Russell Hochschild
12 Into the Future: America in the Twenty-First Century
Welcome to the Millennium While not everything old will be new again, many aspects of the past will be dusted off for the twenty-first century.
Gerald Celente
America Remains No. 1 No other country will have the power to play the role of "benevolent hegemon."
Ronald Steel
Big Brother Is Us Our privacy is disappearing, but not by force. We're selling it, even giving it away.
James Gleick
Junior Comes Out Perfect Genetic screening will give privileged parents heightened capacity to shape the destinies of their children. What about the other parents?
Philip Kitcher
Race Is Over "In the future, definition by racial, ethnic and sexual groups will most probably have ceased to be the foundation of special-interest power."
Stanley Crouch
Mystery Date A fictional view of romance in the twenty-first century.
A.M. Homes
Where Have All the Causes Gone? Young people today face a history gap. With no common enemies, it's not clear how they will react when the inevitable crisis comes.
Jon Meacham
Back to the Future The science and technology of the 21st century will be different, but we won't.
Meg Greenfield
Sequencing Assignments: Making New Connections
Photo and Text Credits 574(2)
Index of Authors and Titles 576

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