Week 11 In Living Color: Race And American Culture Discussion Help This week has three jobs.First is discussion, I will post the required reading for you,

Week 11 In Living Color: Race And American Culture Discussion Help This week has three jobs.First is discussion, I will post the required reading for you, for the first part, need to write initial idea and one question. Later I will post second part.Second is short writing, I also post a file named ” essay 3 guide,” it is related to this short writing, but you don’t need to write anything for it, it will be next week’s job.Third is essay 2 revise, I will post the essay you wrote for me and the comment form my instructor. Readings: SoL “The Butler Versus The Help: Gender Matters” by Andrews, and “In Living
Color: Race and American Culture” by Omi
Did your instructor assign LaunchPad Solo
for Signs of Life in the USA?
Where Students Learn
Signs of Life in the USA includes cross-references to LaunchPad Solo
with video, audio, and practice activities that give you immediate feedback.
If your book did not come packaged with an access code, you can purchase
access to LaunchPad Solo for Signs of Life in the USA at
e-book formats. For details, visit macmillanhighered.com
Signs of Life in the USA is available in a variety of
Cover image: © Simon Evans/Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai
How has niche advertising been used to develop a highly detailed profile
of your consumer habits? Why are Americans so transfixed by “bad guys”?
Signs of Life in the USA helps you master the expectations of college by
providing you with an academic framework to talk about our common cultural
experiences. Extensively updated to account for the rapid evolution of
contemporary trends, the text’s themes feature provocative and current
reading selections that ask you to think analytically about America’s impressive
popular culture. This book includes the readings and assignments you need.
Your fellow students know you can’t pass your course without it.
See how pop culture can help you in college.
Brief Contents
Popular Signs: Or, Everything You Always Knew about
American Culture (but Nobody Asked)
Writing about Popular Culture
Conducting Research and Citing Sources
1 Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption
2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising
3 Video Dreams: Television and Cultural Forms
4 The Hollywood Sign: The Culture of American Film
5 The Cloud: Semiotics and the New Media
6 Heroes and Villains: Encoding Our Conflicts
7 My Selfie, My Self: Ma(s)king Identity in the New Millennium
Signs of Life in the U.S.A.
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Eighth Edition
Signs of Life in the U.S.A.
Readings on Popular Culture for Writers
Sonia Maasik
University of California, Los Angeles
Jack Solomon
California State University, Northridge
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Boston ? New York
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For Bedford/St. Martin’s
Vice President, Editorial, Macmillan Higher Education Humanities: Edwin Hill
Editorial Director for English and Music: Karen S. Henry
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Executive Marketing Manager: Jane Helms
Copy Editor: Jennifer Greenstein
Director of Rights and Permissions: Hilary Newman
Senior Art Director: Anna Palchik
Cover Design: Marine Miller
Cover Art/Cover Photo: Simon Evans, Everything I Have, 2008. Pen, paper, Scotch tape,
correction ?uid, and ink-jet prints of personal inventory, 60 1/4 × 40 1/8 in., 153.04 ×
101.92 cm © Simon Evans / Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai
Composition: Cenveo Publisher Services
Printing and Binding: RR Donnelley and Sons
Copyright © 2015, 2012, 2009, 2006 by Bedford/St. Martin’s
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, except as may be expressly permitted by the applicable copyright statutes or in writing by the Publisher.
9 8 7 6 5 4
f e d c b a
For information, write: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116
ISBN: 978-1-4576-7025-1
Text acknowledgments and copyrights appear at the back of the book on pages 565–68,
which constitute an extension of the copyright page. Art acknowledgments and copyrights
appear on the same page as the art selections they cover. It is a violation of the law to
reproduce these selections by any means whatsoever without the written permission of
the copyright holder.
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Preface for Instructors
he more things change, the more they . . . intensify. For in the years since
the publication of the seventh edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A., two profound interventions in American history — the Great Recession and the Digital Revolution — have only increased their in?uence on American culture
and consciousness. Years of diminishing opportunities, of un- and underemployment, stagnant wages, and economic disruption persistently erode
the national spirit, even as the explosive growth of digital technology continues its transformation of our culture into a vast social network: an always-on
virtual society that has recast Marshall McLuhan’s global village into a global
hive. And there is little reason to believe that either of these forces will be
abating in the foreseeable future.
In the midst of such interventions, the role of popular culture in our lives
has equally intensi?ed. No longer a mere cultural embellishment or ornament, popular culture now permeates almost everything we do even as it
re?ects back to us what we are becoming as a society and who we are. With
digital technology blurring beyond recognition the line between everyday life
and entertainment, transforming the traditional work spaces of school and
of?ce into virtual play stations and shopping malls, if we wish to understand
America today we must learn to think critically about the vast panoply of
entertainments and commodities that were once condescendingly dismissed
as elements of “mass culture.” And that is what Signs of Life in the U.S.A. has
always been designed to teach your students to do.
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Then and Now
The importance of thinking critically about popular culture has not always
been apparent to the academic world. When the ?rst edition of Signs of
Life appeared, the study of popular culture was still embroiled in the “culture wars” of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a struggle for academic legitimacy in which the adherents of popular cultural studies ultimately prevailed.
Since then, more and more scholars and teachers have come to recognize the
importance of understanding what Michel de Certeau has called “the practice of everyday life” and the value of using popular culture as a thematic
ground for educating students in critical thinking and writing. Once excluded
from academic study on the basis of a naturalized distinction between “high”
and “low” culture, which contemporary cultural analysis has shown to be historically contingent, popular culture has come to be an accepted part of the
curriculum, widely studied in freshman composition classrooms as well as in
upper-division undergraduate courses and graduate seminars.
But recognition of the importance that popular culture has assumed in
our society has not been restricted to the academy. Increasingly, Americans
are realizing that American culture and popular culture are virtually one and
the same, and that whether we are looking at our political system, our economy, or simply our national consciousness, the power of popular culture to
shape our lives is strikingly apparent. That is why, unlike most other popular
cultural texts, Signs of Life adopts an interpretive approach — semiotics — that
is explicitly designed to analyze that intersection of ideology and entertainment that we call popular culture. We continue to make semiotics the guiding methodology behind Signs of Life because semiotics helps us, and our
students, avoid the common pitfalls of uncritical celebration or simple trivia
The Critical Method: Semiotics
The reception of the ?rst seven editions of this text has demonstrated that the
semiotic approach to popular culture has indeed found a place in America’s
composition classrooms. Composition instructors have seen that students
feel a certain sense of ownership toward the products of popular culture and
that using popular culture as a focus can help students overcome the sometimes alienating effects of traditional academic subject matter. At the same
time, the semiotic method has helped instructors teach their students how to
analyze the popular cultural phenomena that they enjoy writing about, and
through these methods students have learned the critical thinking and writing
skills that their composition classes are designed to impart.
Re?ecting the broad academic interest in cultural studies, we’ve assumed
an inclusive de?nition of popular culture. The seven chapters in Signs of
Life in the U.S.A. embrace everything from the marketing and consumption
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of the products of mass production to the television programs and movies
that entertain us. We have chosen semiotics as our approach because it has
struck us that while students enjoy assignments that ask them to look at popular cultural phenomena, they often have trouble distinguishing between an
argued interpretive analysis and the simple expression of an opinion. Some
textbooks, for example, suggest assignments that involve analyzing a TV
show or ?lm, but they don’t always tell a student how to do that. The semiotic method provides that guidance.
As a conceptual framework, semiotics teaches students to formulate
cogent, well-supported interpretations. It emphasizes the examination of assumptions and of the way language shapes our apprehension of the world.
And, because semiotics focuses on how beliefs are formulated within a social
and political context (rather than just judging or evaluating those beliefs), it’s
ideal for discussing sensitive or politically charged issues. As an approach
used in literature, media studies, anthropology, art and design coursework,
sociology, law, and market research (to name only some of its more prominent ?eld applications), semiotics has a cross-disciplinary appeal that makes
it ideal for a writing class of students from a variety of majors and disciplines.
We recognize that semiotics has a reputation for being highly technical or
theoretical; rest assured that Signs of Life does not require students or instructors to have a technical knowledge of semiotics. We’ve provided clear and
accessible introductions that explain what students need to know.
We also recognize that adopting a theoretical approach may be new
to some instructors, so we’ve designed the book to allow instructors to use
semiotics with their students as much or as little as they wish. The book
does not obligate instructors or students to spend a lot of time with semiotics — although we do hope you’ll ?nd the approach intriguing and provocative.
The Editorial Apparatus
With its emphasis on popular culture, Signs of Life should generate lively class
discussion and inspire many kinds of writing and thinking activities. The
general introduction provides an overall framework for the book, acquainting students with the semiotic method they can use to interpret the topics
raised in each chapter. It is followed by the section “Writing about Popular
Culture” that not only provides a brief introduction to this topic but also features three sample student essays that demonstrate different approaches to
writing critical essays on popular cultural topics. The introduction concludes
with “Conducting Research and Citing Sources,” a section to help your students properly document the research they’ve done for their writing assignments, including three articles that guide students in the appropriate use of
the Internet as a research tool.
Each chapter starts with a frontispiece, a provocative visual image related
to the chapter’s topic, and an introduction that suggests ways to “read” the
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topic, provides model interpretations, and links the issues raised by the reading selections. Every chapter introduction contains three types of boxed questions designed to stimulate student thinking on the topic. The Exploring the
Signs questions invite students to re?ect on an issue in a journal entry or
other prewriting activity, while the Discussing the Signs questions trigger
class activities such as debates, discussions, or small-group work. Reading
Online questions invite students to explore the chapter’s topic on the Internet, both for research purposes and for texts to analyze.
Two sorts of assignments accompany each reading. The Reading the Text
questions help students comprehend the selections, asking them to identify important concepts and arguments, explain key terms, and relate main
ideas to one another and to the evidence presented. The Reading the Signs
questions are writing and activity prompts designed to produce clear analytic
thinking and strong persuasive writing; they often make connections among
reading selections from different chapters. Most assignments call for analytic
essays, while some invite journal responses, in-class debates, group work,
or other creative activities. Complementing the readings in each chapter are
images that serve as visual texts to be discussed. We also include a glossary
of semiotic terms, which can serve as a ready reference to key words and
concepts used in the chapter introductions. Finally, the Instructor’s Manual
(Editors’ Notes for Signs of Life in the U.S.A.) provides suggestions for organizing your syllabus, encouraging student responses to the readings, and using
popular culture and semiotics in the writing class.
What’s New in the Eighth Edition
Popular culture evolves at a rapid pace, and the substantial revision required
for the eighth edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A. re?ects this essential mutability. First, we have updated our readings, including more than twenty-?ve
new selections focusing on issues and trends that have emerged since the last
edition of this book. We have also updated the exemplary topics in our introductions, which are used to model the critical assignments that follow, and
have adjusted the focus of some chapters to re?ect the changing conditions
of students’ lives and the ways they consume popular culture. Two new chapters, “Heroes and Villains: Encoding Our Con?icts” and “My Sel?e, My Self:
Ma(s)king Identity in the New Millennium,” explore the ways in which the
con?icts and contradictions in American society are re?ected in video entertainments awash in heroes, antiheroes, and villains, even as our sense of our
selves is being reshaped in an era of online pro?ling and self-advertising.
From the beginning, Signs of Life in the U.S.A. has been based on the
premise that in a postindustrial, McLuhanesque world, the image has come
to supplant the printed word in American, and global, culture. That is yet
another of the reasons we chose semiotics, which provides a rational basis for
the critical analysis of images as the guiding methodology for every edition
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of our book. Each edition of Signs of Life has accordingly included images
for critical analysis; the eighth edition continues this tradition. The images
included in the text supplement the readings, offering a visual perspective
designed to enhance the critical understanding modeled by the texts. Yet the
images are not meant to replace the texts — we strongly believe that while
the semiotic interpretation of images can help students hone their writing
skills, it should not be a substitute for learning critical thinking through the
analysis of written texts.
At the same time, the way that students consume images has been revolutionized by digital and mobile technologies, and Signs of Life in the U.S.A.
re?ects this new reality both through the offering of an e-book version of the
main text and through LaunchPad Solo for Signs of Life in the U.S.A., a collection of digital resources referenced throughout the print book that includes
reading and writing tutorials, quizzing on rhetorical and grammatical topics,
and e-readings — from vintage TV ads and ?lms to documentary clips that
elaborate on the topics covered by the reading selections. LaunchPad Solo for
Signs of Life in the U.S.A. is available as a free package.
Even as we revise this text to re?ect current trends, popular culture continues to evolve. The inevitable gap between the pace of editing and publishing, on the one hand, and the ?ow of popular culture, on the other, need not
affect the use of popular culture in the classroom, however. The readings in
the text, and the semiotic method we propose, are designed to show students how to analyze and write critical essays about any topic they choose.
They can choose a topic that appeared before they were born, or they can
turn to the latest box-of?ce or prime-time hit to appear after the publication
of this edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A. Facebook and Twitter may well
have been replaced by such more recent sites as Snapchat, Pinterest, and
Instagram within the life span of this edition (indeed, Facebook obliterated
MySpace shortly after the publication of the sixth edition of this book), but
such changes are opportunities for further analysis, not obstacles. To put it
another way, the practice of everyday life may itself be ?lled with evanescent
fads and trends, but daily life is not itself a fad. As the vital texture of our
lived experience, popular culture provides a stable background against which
students of every generation can test their critical skills.
The vastness of the terrain of popular culture has enabled many users of the
seventh edition of this text to make valuable suggestions for the eighth edition. We have incorporated many such suggestions and thank all for their
comments on our text. We are also grateful to those reviewers who examined
the book in depth: Anna Alessi, Saddleback Community College; Suzanne Arakawa, California State University — San Bernardino; Nick Brittin, Lake Michigan
College; Mary Ann Bushman, Illinois Wesleyan University; Jane Christensen,
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University of Nebraska at Kearney; Amy Corey, Gonzaga University; Patricia
Cullinan, Truckee Meadows Community College; Nicole Denner, Stetson University; Sarah Duerden, Arizona State University; Catherine Gillis, Napa Valley
College; Lynda Glennon, Rollins College; Christi Hein, Colorado Mesa University; Shawne Johnson, Community College of Philadelphia; Terry Krueger,
Central Oregon Community College; David McCracken, Coker College; Laurie
Vickroy, Bradley University; Chris Warnick, College of Charleston; Edward
Wesp, Western New England University; Paula White, Community College of
Philadelphia; Eve Wiederhold, George Mason University; Joshua Woodfork,
American University; and John Ziebell, Florida State College Jacksonville.
If we have not included something you’d like to work on, you may still
direct your students to it, using this text as a guide, not as a set of absolute
prescriptions. The practice of everyday life includes the conduct of a classroom, and…
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