Mirror on America : Essays and Images from Popular Culture

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  • Edition: 4th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-02-11
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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American popular culture is unique because America's cultural diversity is unique. Building on its signature accessibility,Mirror on Americawidens its embrace of popular culture, exposing students to the idea that American popular culture is not monolithic, but rather a composite reflection of all the cultures that consider themselves American. Featuring current essays about topics students will already be familiar with and apparatus that supports and scaffolds every step of the reading and writing process,Mirror on Americareflects the interests of studentsandthe instructors who want them to become confident writers.

Author Biography

JOAN T. MIMS has been a manager and language arts specialist with the Texas Education Agency, working on development and scoring of the statewide writing assessments. She taught composition at West Chester University for 13 years and has extensive experience with developmental students.

ELIZABETH M. NOLLEN has taught basic writing, composition, film, and literature courses in the English department at West Chester University for the last 21 years. She has been active in the English component of pre-college programs, given numerous papers at the Popular Culture Association, and has published Family Matters in the British and American Novel with Bowling Green State University Popular Press.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors

Introduction for Students

Rhetorical Table of Contents

1. Active, Involved Reading and the Writing Process: Establishing a Connection

Reading with a Difference

        Getting into Reading

        Thinking Ahead

        Reading a Sample Essay

Eric L. Wee, "Schlock Waves Felt across U.S. Campuses"

David Jacobson, "Pop Culture Studies Turns 25"

Writing with a Difference

        Getting into Writing

Planning, Purpose, Audience, and Attitude

        Hooking the Reader

        Identifying a Thesis

        Supporting the Thesis

        Organizing the Content

        Connecting the Pieces

        Arriving at a Conclusion

        Titling the Paper and Other Final Steps

        Revising the Paper

        Editing the Paper

        Peer Editing

        Gaining from the Effort

        A Sample Student Essay

Anabel F. Hart, "The Importance of Reflecting on Popular Culture" (Student Essay)



2. Deconstructing Media: Analyzing an Image

The Message of Media

        Asking the Right Questions

        Taking an Image Apart

        Reading Visual Images

        To Have and To Hold (Photograph)

        Mallard Fillmore (Cartoon)

Writing About an Image

        Monumental Taste (Advertisement)

Robert E. Arthur, "Monumental Taste: Using Patriotism to Market Diet Coke" (Student Essay)

        Gearing Up to Read Images


3. Define "American": Reflections on Cultural Identity

Looking Ahead

Analyzing the Image: "Like Mother—Not Likely!" (Photograph)

Gearing Up


Susan Brady Konig, "They’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught"

Lorraine Ali, "Do I Look Like Public Enemy Number One?"

Julia Alvarez, "I Want to Be Miss America"

There She Was (Photograph)

*Shawn Hubler, "Will the Last Gay Bar in Laguna Beach Please Turn Out the Light?"

*Andrew Lam, "Globalization vs. Americanization"

*Arnold Kee, "Naming Our Destiny"

Paired Selections

*Gregory Rodriguez, "Mongrel America"

*David Brooks, "People Like Us"

*Michael Jonas, "The Downside of Diversity"

Wrapping Up Chapter 3

Connecting to the Culture

Focusing on Yesterday: Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want (Painting)

Focusing on Today: Charlie Powell, One Big Happy Family (Drawing)


4. "How Do I Look?": How Culture Shapes Self-Image

Looking Ahead

Analyzing the Image: American Gothic Makeover (Painting)

Gearing Up


Garry Trudeau, "My Inner Shrimp"

Patricia McLaughlin, "Venus Envy"

*Tanzila Ahmed, "100% Indian Hair"

*Jennie Yabroff, "Girls Going Mild(er)"

Dan Barden, "My New Nose"

Losing the Trauma: The Author Before and After Surgery (photographs)

*Michelle Jana Chan, "Identity in a Virtual World"

*Robbie Cooper, Choi Seang Rok and Uroo Ahs (Photograph)

John Leo, "The ‘Modern Primitives’"

Body Rites (Advertisement)

Paired Selections

Alice Walker, "Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self"

Grace Suh, "The Eye of the Beholder"

Wrapping Up Chapter 4

Connecting to the Culture

Focusing on Yesterday: Dear Diary (Photograph)

Focusing on Today: MySpace is Your Space (Photograph)



5. What Are You Trying to Say?: How Language Works

Looking Ahead

*Analyzing the Image: Cheerful Technology (Photograph)

Gearing Up


*Patricia T. O’Conner, "Like"

*Geneva White, "Corporate Names and Products Creep into Everyday Language"

*Caitlin Miner LeGrand, "More than Language"

*Loud English (Cartoon)

*Natalie Moore, "Rule of Thumbs: Love in the Age of Texting"

*Adam Jacot de Boinod, "Global Wording"

Paired Selections

*John J Miller, "How Do You Say Extinct?"

*Mindy Cameron, "In the Language of Our Ancestors"

Read Mercer Schuchardt, "Swoosh!"

*Dr. Edward Rhymes, "Caucasian Please! America’s Cultural Double Standard for Misogyny and Racism"

Wrapping Up Chapter 5

Connecting to the Culture

Focusing on Yesterday: On the Horn (Photograph)

Focusing on Today: From Talking to Texting (Photograph)



6. Fantasies for Sale: Marketing American Culture

Paired Selections

Looking Ahead

*Analyzing the Image: America: Land of the Free or Land of the Logos? (Photograph)

Gearing Up


Paired Selections

Jay Chiat, "Illusions Are Forever"

Delia Cleveland, "Champagne Taste, Beer Budget"

*Meghan O’Rourke, "The Croc Epidemic"

David Carr, "On Covers of Many Magazines, a Full Racial Palette Is Still Rare"

Tara Parker-Pope, "Custom-Made"

*Rob Walker, "Cleaning Up"

*Michael Specter, "Damn Spam"

*The Economist, "The Ultimate Marketing Machine"

*Bob Garfield, "Taking Cadillac from Stodgy to Sexy: Kate Walsh"

Wrapping Up Chapter 6

Connecting to the Culture

Focusing on Yesterday: You Could Guess Which Car She Came In! (Advertisement)

Focusing on Today: She’s Arrived! (Advertisement)

7. Seeing the Big Picture: Culture Reflected in Film

Looking Ahead

Analyzing the Image: All Eyes on Oscar (Photograph)

Gearing Up


Paired Selections

Stephen King, "Why We Crave Horror Movies"

*Katrina Onstad, "Horror Auteur Is Unfinished with the Undead"

*Anupama Chopra, "Bollywood Princess, Hollywood Hopeful: Aishwarya’s Quest for Global Stardom"

*The Bollywood Princess Waiting for Her Prince to Come (Photograph)

*Eugene Robinson, "Tyler Perry’s Money Machine"

*Jennie Yabroff, "Drag Hags"

*Wesley Morris, "Shrinking the Big Screen"

*Andrew O'Hehir, "Oscar and Hollywood in Splitsville!"

*John Clark, "Hollywood Clicks on the Work of Web Auteurs"

*Kelly Tyler-Lewis, "Virtual Humans"

*An Unlikely Commuter (Photograph)

Wrapping Up Chapter 7

Connecting to the Culture

*Focusing on Yesterday: "They’re Here!" (Movie Still)

*Focusing on Today: "Ring, Ring. You’re Dead." (Movie Still)


8. American Idols: Representations of American Culture.

Looking Ahead

*Analyzing the Image: New York in Las Vegas? (Photograph)

Gearing Up


*Craig Simmons, "Hooters Translates in China"

*Virginia Postrel, "Signs of Our Times"

*Ron Rosenbaum, "The Worst Op-Ed Ever Written?"

Steven Levy, "iPod Nation"

*Daniel Nexon, "‘Harry Potter’ and Magical Realism"

Paired Selections

*Phyllis Raybin Emert, "Native American Mascots: Racial Slur or Cherished Tradition?"

*Jack El-Hai, "Booze, Blood, and the Star-Spangled Banner"

*Erika Fricke, "Material Girls"

Britney and Madonna (Photograph)

*Daniel Alarcon, "Grand Mall Seizure"

Wrapping Up Chapter 8

Connecting to the Culture

*Focusing on Yesterday: Movin’ with His Boom Box (Photograph)

*Focusing on Today: Travelin’ to Her Own Beat (Photograph)

Evaluating and Documenting Sources

Index of Authors and Titles
* new to this edition

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