Conversations: Reading for Writing

Dominic A Delli Carpini / Jack Selzer  
Total pages
February 2011
Related Titles

Product detail

Title no longer available


Conversations: Readings for Writing provides students an entry point to an extraordinary variety of authors, genres, voices, and viewpoints on important contemporary civic issues.


Touching on issues that affect students both as individuals and as citizens, the readings and visuals invite students to join important civic “conversations" through their own writing. For each issue addressed, Conversations offers not just one or two selections, but several-reminding students that no issue has just one or two sides, but usually involves a wide range of voices. Frequently, selections comment on and argue with other selections, demonstrating that writing is a social exchange, and that writing is often prompted as a response to that which we read.  The images included also remind students that we regularly “read”-that is interpret and respond to-not only words, but visual arguments found in photographs, artworks, cartoons, and advertisements.


Organized around issues of public and private concern-such as the condition of public education, challenges to the necessity of college, the role of citizen journalism, the impact of technology on intelligence, hook-up culture and the evolving perspectives on marriage, and the debate over sustainability in food and environment-which provide interesting, provocative writing subjects for students.


Represents writing as social exchange, with many selections that talk to each other about an issue and so motivate students to participate through their own writing.


New "Conversations in Context" feature focuses on media as part of that social exchange-providing students with images and texts that speak to one another in our visual culture and helping them to think more about the ways that images make arguments, respond to one another, and influence opinions.


Encompasses a wide variety of genres in addition to the essay: fiction, book excerpts, speeches, research reports, cartoons, advertisements, photos, screen shots, and blogs, among others. 


An Introduction teaches reading for content and reading critically and includes sample annotated texts that illustrate how to read actively. Helpful coverage of the writing process and a summary of techniques for conversation-based research give students the tools they need to approach their writing assignments.


Includes a rhetorical table of contents, headnotes for the readings, chapter writing prompts, and part introductions to the five parts of the book: education, technology, identity, revolutions in marriage and relationships, and sustainability.  


Includes writings by public figures and citizens who are not professional writers, reminding students that writing is not only an occupation, but itself an act of citizenship.

New to this Edition

Sixty new reading selections provide students with an entry point to an extraordinary variety of authors, genres, voices, and viewpoints on important contemporary civic issues. This edition includes a larger number of texts that directly reference and respond to one another.


New and revised topics make the issues discussed in this edition more timely-and closer to students' experience of the world.   Included are: sustainable food; environmental sustainability; public education and the value of college; new media; the role of gender and ethnicity in identity; and the changing nature of romantic relationships.


Five new “Conversations in Context” sections help students see current issues against a rich historical backdrop. A wide range of brief textual and visual arguments expand the context of each debate.


Expanded attention to new media and multi-modal texts illustrates the ways that even conversations that start in traditional publication venues are extended into electronic environments like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and visual media where students increasingly direct their time and attention.


A new Introduction showcases the “conversation model” of research and writing.  Successful academic writers employ this model to illustrate various points of view while developing and defending their own claims.

Table of Contents

Rhetorical Contents                                                                                                                                                                  


Joining the Conversation: Reading, Research, and Writing                            


Part One: Conversations about Education                                              



Chapter 1: The Goals and Condition of Public Education                                   

E. B. John Taylor Gatto, "Against School: How Public Education Cripples our Kids, and Why"

*Ron Miller, "Review of John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down"                                     

*John Taylor Gatto, "Response to Ron Miller"                                                                        

*Kathleen Anderson, "Reflections in Education: Considering the Impact of Schooling on the


*Dennis Fermoyle, "Blog Posts and responses"From the Trenches of Public


*Laurie H. Rogers and Respondents to the Blog, "Betrayed--Why Public Education is


Larry Cuban,  "Making Public Schools Business-like … Again "

Herb Childress, "A Subtractive Education"


Getting Into the Conversation 1                                                                             

The Goals and Condition of Public Education                                                                             


*ConversationS in CONTEXT 1:

*The Debate About Standardized Testing From a Nation at



Chapter 2: What, and Who, is College For?                                               

Alice Walker, "Everyday Use: For Your Grandmama"                                                          

W. J. Reeves, "College  Isn't For Everyone"

Garry B. Trudeau, "Doonesbury"

*Thomas Reeves,"College Isn't for Everybody, and it's a scandal that We Think It Is (and Blog Responses)"

*Paul Attwell and David E. Lavin, "What the Critics of “College for All” Say"

*Jay Matthews, "Multiplying Benefits of College for Everybody"

*Trent Batson, "Is College Necessary in a Knowledge-Drenched World?"

Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, "The Challenge of Liberty"

Ads for Hofstra University and York College

Clive Crook, "A Matter of Degrees: Why College Is Not an Economic Cure-All"

*Kathleen Waldron, "Access to College Means Access to Economic Mobility for America's


*Timothy Egan, "No Degree, No Way Back to the Middle"


Getting Into the Conversation 2

What, and Who, Is College for?                                                                                                                        


Extending the Conversation 1

Opportunities for Reading, Writing, and Research


Part Two: Conversations about Information and Technology



Chapter 3: Information and Misinformation in New Media Journalism      

*Caryl Rivers," The New Media Politics of Emotion and Attitude"                                      

Matt Welch, "Blogworld and its Gravity"

David Weinberger, "Blogs and the Values of Journalism"

Frank Partsch, "Unbounded Misrepresentation"

Jeff Jarvis, "Response to Frank  Partsch"

Greg Gutfield, "Mad About You"

Moisés Naím, "The YouTube Effect"

*Steven Johnson,"How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live"

*Rian Van Der Meere, "Response to “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live”        

*Clive Thompson, "Clive Thompson on the New Literacy"                                                      


Getting Into the Conversation 3

Information and Misinformation in New Media Journalism                                                     


Conversations in Context 2 

What Good is Wikipedia?                                                                                                                                        

*Marshall Poe, The Hive                                                                                                        


Chapter 4: Is Technology Making Us Stupid?                                                

*Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"                                                               

*Pew Research Center, "Does Google Make Us Stupid?"

*Trent Batson, "Response to Nicholas Carr's 'Is Google Making Us Stupid?'"

*W. Daniel Hillis, Kevin Kelly, Larry Sanger, George Dyson, Jaron Lanier, and Douglas Rushkoff,"What the Internet is Doing to Our

    Brains: Responses to Nicholas Carr"

*Katherine Allen,"Is Technology Making Us Dumb?"                                                               

*Jim Pinto, "Is Technology Making People Stupid?"                                                                

Edward Tufte,"Powerpoint Is Evil"                                                                                          

*Cliff Atkinson,"Five Experts Dispute Edward Tufte on PowerPoint"


Getting Into the Conversation 4

Is Technology Making Us Stupid?                                                                                                                      


Extending the Conversation 2

Opportunities for Reading, Writing, and Research                                                                              


Part Three:  Conversations about Identity: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity        



Chapter 5: Gender Identities                                                                          

Sojourner Truth, "Ain't I a Woman:

Sherry Kleinman, "Why Sexist Language Matters"

Scott Russell Sanders, "The Men We Carry In Our Minds"

*Michael Norman,"From Carol Gilligan's Chair"                                                                  

*Christina Hoff Sommers, "Do Boys Need to Be Saved?"                                                          

Michael Kimmel, "A War Against Boys?"

Marshall Poe, ""The Other Gender Gap"                                                                                 

*Guy Garcia,"Samson Shorn"                                                                                                   


Getting Into the Conversation 5

Gender Identities                                                                                                                                                    


Conversations in Context 3

The Beauty Myth and Personal Identity                                                                            

Naomi Wolf, from "The Beauty Myth"

Virginia Postrel, 'The Truth About Beauty"


Chapter 6: Racial and Ethnic Identities                                                         

Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergyman

Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

*bell hooks, "Overcoming White Supremacy: A Comment"                                                      

Amitai Etzioni, "Leaving Race Behind"

*Richard Rodriguez,"The Third Man"                                                                                         

*Vickie Nam, ed.,  from "Yell-Oh Girls"                                                                                    

*Helen Zia, "From Nothing, a Consciousness"                                                                        


Getting Into the Conversation 6

Racial and Ethnic Identities                                                                                                                                 


Extending the Conversation 3

Opportunities for Reading, Writing, and Research                                                                          


Part Four  Conversations about Love Relationships and Marriage    



Chapter 7: Hooking Up: Relationships in the 21st Century                             

Jillian Straus, "Lone Stars: Being Single

*Jessica Bennett, "The Only You. And You. And You."

*Sandra Barron, "R We D8Ting?"

*Theodore Stites, "Modern Love: Someone to Watch Over Me (On a Google Map)"

*Tom Wolfe, "Hooking Up: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Second Millenium"

*Matt Sigl, "You Aught to Remember Blog Post"

*Laura Sessions Stepp, "The Unrelationship"

*Kathleen Bogle, "Hooking Up and Dating: A Comparison"

*Kate Harding, "Hookup Culture's Bad Rap"


Getting Into the Conversation 7

Hooking Up: Relationships in the 21st Century                                                                                          


Conversations in Context 4

Loving Online                                                                                                                               

*Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, from Love Online: Emotions on the Internet                                               


Chapter 8: The Ideal and Real of Marriage

Margaret Mead, "Can Marriage Be For Life?"

Stephanie Coontz, "The Evolution of Matrimony: The Changing Social Context of Marriage"

*Caitlin Flanagan, "Is There Hope for American Marriage?"

*Sandra Tsing Loh, "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off"

*Amy Benfer, "When Date Night Is Not Enough"

*Amanda Fortini, "Why Your Marriage Sucks"

*Elizabeth Weil, "Married (Happily) with Issues"


Getting Into the Conversation 8

The Ideal and Real of Marriage


Extending the Conversation 4

Opportunities for Reading, Writing, and Research


Part Five: Conversations about Sustainability



Chapter 9: Feeting the World: Towards Sustainable Foods

Eric Schlosser, "Fast Food Nation"

*Steve Ettinger, "Consider the Twinkie"

*James E. McWilliams, "From the Golden Age to the Golden Mean of Food Production

*Jeffrey Moussaif Masson, "The Only World We Have"

*Paul Roberts, "Food Fight"

*Michael Pollan, "The Industrialization of Eating"

*Lierre Keith, "To Save the World"


Getting Into the Conversation 9

Feeding the World: Toward Sustainable Foods


Conversations in Context 5

The Past and Future of Nuclear Energy

    *Steve Chu, "Small Modular Reactors Will Expand the Ways We Use Atomic Power"

    *Patrick Moore, "Going Nuclear; A Green Makes the Cause"

    *Steven Cohen, "Nuclear Power is Complicated, Dangerous, and Definitely Not the Answer"


Chapter 10: Sustaining Our Environment: Who Are the Best Guardians?

Patrick Moore, "Hard Choices for the Environmental Movement"

*Greenpeace International, "Statement on Patrick Moore"

*Patrick Moore, "How Sick Is That? Environmental Movement Has Lost Its Way"

Emma Marris, "In the Name of Nature"

Margery Kraus and Michael Brune, "Are Businesses Better Equipped Than Government to Address 21st Century Environmental

    Challenges? A Dialouge"

Marc Gunther, Doris Burke, Jia Lynn Yang, "The Green Machine"

Gregg Easterbrook, "Some Convenient Truths"

*Heather Rogers, "Green by Any Means"


Getting into the Converstaion 10

Sustaining Our Environment: Who Are the Best Guardians?


Extending the Conversations 5

Opportunities for Reading, Writing, and Research


A Guide to Incorporating Sources and Avoiding Plagarism


Author/Title Index