Contemporary Reader, The

Gary Goshgarian  
Total pages
August 2012
Related Titles


A best-selling popular culture reader, The Contemporary Reader offers more than 70 readings taken from today's headlines to inspire students to write on topics that really matter to them. 


This collection offers over 70 current, well-written, provocative readings that students can relate to-readings that stimulate class discussion, critical thinking, and writing. Over 90% of the readings were written within the last five years. The text's nine tightly focused thematic chapters provide balanced readings with multiple perspectives on issues that students care about


* Chapter topics and themes offer a wide spectrum of issues affecting contemporary life and society.


  • Each chapter focuses on an appealing, thought-provoking theme, so students are more likely to be engaged and to develop their own points of view. 
  • Juxtaposed “Viewpoints” essays present multiple sides of an issue in greater depth, so students learn that there is more than one side to most issues and that there are many ways to present opposing arguments effectively.
  • Essays reflect a wide range of writing styles and genres, including academic essays and dialogues by today's best writers and featuring the work of numerous women and minority authors. Notable authors include: Margaret Atwood, Al Gore, Roger Ebert, Anna Kamenetz Peggy Orenstein, Kay S. Hymowitz, David Brooks, Stephanie Coontz, John H. McWhorter, and many more.
  •  The Culture Shock features found throughout this book reflect the kind of images that confront students every day-cartoons, advertisements, statistical maps, and charts-and the questions that accompany them encourage students to analyze the arguments being made visually and rhetorically.

  • The introduction includes strategies for critical writing, with coverage of pre-writing, audience-awareness, developing a thesis, documenting sources, drafting, editing, revising, and proofreading, as well as critical reading.  Students are offered the tools they need to process the theme-based chapters that follow, as well as guidance on how to respond to the readings thoughtfully and persuasively.
  • Useful writing and discussion exercises follow each reading, including "Critical Reading," "Critical Writing," and "Group Projects."




New to this Edition

·     Updated introduction. The new introduction, “How to Read and WriteCritically,” has been updated with a new sample essay that is annotated, outlined, and analyzed in detail according to six proven steps for critical reading. As in the previous editions, this new introduction emphasizes the relationship between reading, thinking, and writing.

·     More than 40 new readings explore a wealth of contemporary subjects, including selections from such noted writers as Robin Dunbar, danah boyd, Joseph Turow, Glenn Loury, and Peggy Orenstein have been added.

·     Three new chapter themes. Chapter 4, “That's Entertainment?”; Chapter 5, “The Social Animal: Connecting in a Digital World”; Chapter 9, “Medical Marvels: Modern Medical Debates,” encourages class discussion and writing about today's important topics.

·     New feature, “Modern Scholar”: In response to requests, we have added a scholarly essay to each chapter on the respective topic. Many of these readings are drawn from scholarly journals and books and are designed to provide challenging readings for student's more analytical consideration of a topic or issue.

·     New images appear in the widely assigned advertising chapter. Chapter 2 includes new ads. Each ad is supported with critical thinking questions that ask students to closely analyze the affects  advertising has on our culture.

Table of Contents

Rhetorical Contents



Introduction: How to Read and Write Critically

What Is Critical Thinking?

Why Read Critically?

How to Read Critically


Internet On, Inhibitions Off: Why We Tell All, Matt Ridley

Keep a Journal on What You Read

Annotate What You Read

Outline What You Read

Summarize What You Read

Question What You Read

Analyze What You Read

What Is Critical Writing?

Developing Ideas

Narrowing the Topic

Identifying Your Audience

Developing a Thesis

Understanding Your Paper’s Objective


Selecting Sources for Your Paper

Documenting Sources

Organizing Your Paper

Drafting Your Essay

Writing Your Introduction

Developing Paragraphs and Making Transitions

Concluding Well

Editing and Revising

Using Active Voice

Grammar and Punctuation

Proofreading Effectively

Approaching Visuals Critically

Images and Advertising

Altoids Ad

Deciphering Editorial Cartoons

Graduation Resistance Cartoon


Chapter 1: Fashion and Flesh: The Images We Project

My Hips, My Caderas, Alisa Valdes

Weight of the World, Niranjana Iyer

Strong Enough, Wendy Shanker

MODERN SCHOLAR: Body Image, Media, and Eating Disorders, Jennifer L. Derenne; Eugene V. Beresin


Out-of-Body Image, Caroline Heldman

The Natural Beauty Myth, Garance Franke-Ruta

How Men Really Feel about Their Bodies, Ted Spiker


Never Too Buff, John Cloud


Why I Rue My Tattoo, Beth Janes

Reading Tattoos: What X Can Learn From Y, G. W. W. (Open Salon Blog Post)

PERSPECTIVES: Editorial Cartoon (Restroom Designation)


Chapter 2: Consumer Nation: Wanting It, Selling It

Which One of These Sneakers Is Me?, Douglas Rushkoff

Just a Little Princess?, Peggy Orenstein

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon (My Things Define Me)

MODERN SCHOLAR: The Daily You, Joseph Turow

Coming to a Lab Near You, Mary Carmichael

Culture Shock: A Portfolio of Advertisements

   Boys and Girls Club

   M & Ms

Kenneth Cole


United Colors of Benneton

Dolce & Gabbana

Calvin Klein

The Allure of Luxury, James B. Twitchell

Will Your Recession Be Tall, Grande, or Venti?, Daniel Gross


With These Words, I Can Sell You Anything, William Lutz

The Language of Advertising, Charles A. O’Neill


Chapter 3: Generation Recession: The Challenges We Face

Generation Debt, Anna Kamenetz

Strapped, Tamara Draut

Grow Up? Not So Fast, Lev Grossman

Recession Generation, Sharon Jayson

Major Delusions, Tali Sharot

MODERN SCHOLAR: Debtor’s Prism, Margaret Atwood

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon (who pays for debt?)


Twentysomething: Be Responsible, Go Back Home after College, Ryan Healy

The “Responsible” Child, Florinda Vasquez


Chapter 4: That’s Entertainment?

The Culture of Celebrity, Joseph Epstein

Death to the Film Critics–All Hail the CelebCult!, Roger Ebert

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon (Bloody Paparazzi)

Return of the Brainless Hussies, Rebecca Traister

MODERN SCHOLAR: The Role of Violent Video Game Content in Adolescent Development: Boys' Perspectives, Cheryl Olsen, Lawrence Kutner and Dorothy Warner

Rap Artists’ Use of Women, Luke Bobo

Twilight' vs. 'Hunger Games': Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella?, Noah Berlatsky

Poof!, Dana Vachon


The Case for Reality TV, Michael Hirschorn

Reality TV: Should We Really Watch, Elizabeth Larkin


Chapter 5: The Social Animal: Connecting in a Digital World

Mirror, Mirror, on the Web, Lakshmi Chaudry

Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism, Christine Rosen

You Gotta Have (150) Friends, Robin Dunbar

MODERN SCHOLAR: Streams of Content, Limited Attention, danah boyd

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon: (The Evolution of Communication)

Crafting Your Image for Your 1,000 Friends on Facebook, Stuart Wolpert

I Tweet, Therefore I Am, Peggy Orenstein


Privacy Strikes Back, Jeffrey Rosen

Stop Panicking About the Bullies, Nick Gillespie


Chapter 6: Perspectives on Gender: Bridging the Gap

My Most Attractive Adversary, Madeleine Begun Kane

Advertisers, Men Are Not Idiots, Glenn Sacks and Richard Smaglick

The End of Men?, Hanna Rosin

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon (Zits, Unspoken Gender Communication)

The Men We Carry in Our Minds, Scott Russell Sanders

MODERN SCHOLAR: The Science of Difference, Steven Pinker

Feminism in a Mad World, Aviva Dove-Biebahn

Culture Shock: Annika Sorenstam Has Another Remarkable Year For A Lady


Lose Title IX please, Boise State Wants Baseball, Brittney Johnson

Title IX Needed Now More Than Ever, Joe Gisondi

Gender Inequality, E. M. Swift


Chapter 7: Race and Racism: Can We Be Color-Blind?

Inequality, Race, and Remedy, Alan Jenkins

MODERN SCHOLAR: Why Should We Care About Racial Inequality?, Glenn Loury

Leaving Race Behind, Amitai Etzioni

Perspectives: History Marches On

The End of White America?, Hua Hsu

People Like Us, David Brooks

Culture Shock: Look Legal

Why Is the N.Y.P.D. After Me?, Nicholas K. Peart


Airport Security: Let's Profile Muslims, Asra Q. Nomani *

Racial Profiling is Poisoning Muslim Americans' Trust, Sahar Aziz


Chapter 8: Family Affairs: Marriage in Flux

MODERN SCHOLAR: Family: Idea, Institution, and Controversy, Betty G. Farrell

Culture Shock: Marriage Trends in the United States

On Not Saying “I Do”, Dorian Solot

For Better, For Worse, Stephanie Coontz

Five Non-Religious Arguments for Marriage, Dennis Prager

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon (The New American Family)

Why Gay Marriage Is Good for Straight America, Andrew Sullivan

Is Polygamy Really So Awful?, Libby Copeland

Did I Miss Something?, Lowell Putnam


Think of the Children, Andrew J. Cherlin

The Higher Risk of Cohabitation, Sharon Sassler

Laws Should Reflect Reality, Nicky Grist

Why the Ring Matters, W. Bradford Wilcox


Chapter 9: Brave New World: What Can Science Do?

Girl or Boy?, Denise Grady

Will Gattaca Come True?, Mara Hvistendahl

Perspectives: Editorial Cartoon (Meet My Mothers)

Her Body, My Baby, Alex Kuczynski

Frozen Assets, Jay Newton-Small

MODERN SCHOLAR: It's Not About Broccoli! The False Case Against Health Care, Einer Elhauge

For organ donation, Facebook beats the DMV, Art Caplan


State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity, Lindsey Murtagh, JD, MPH; David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD

Childhood Obesity Warrants Removal of Child to Foster Care, Susan Brady

Why Fat Cannot Make You Unfit to Parent, Summer Johnson McGee