Lee A. Jacobus
(University of Connecticut)
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Thirty-nine readings introduce students to great thinkers and writers from the past and present. Each thematic chapter features writing from classic authors to whom most contemporary writers look for a basic foundation, thinkers such as Lucretius, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, and James Baldwin. Then, selections from more contemporary writers including Leslie T. Chang, Francis Fukuyama, Steve Jones, Michio Kaku, Amartya Sen, and others show students how these ideas are viewed from modern-day perspectives.
Five thematic chapters explore important ideas essential to our culture. Democracy and human rights, freedom and justice, science and nature, wealth and poverty, and ethics and morality have been important cultural concepts since ancient times, and they continue to shape our world today.
A guide to critical reading shows students how to engage with “big ideas.” The first chapter of the book, “Examining Ideas,” introduces students to the process of critical reading, beginning with essential prereading techniques and moving through annotating, asking good questions, reviewing, and discussing the readings with peers.
A guide to critical writing gives students the tools to put their own ideas into writing. A second introductory chapter, “Writing about Ideas,” guides students through the writing process, showing them how to generate topics for writing, how to form thesis statements, and traditional methods of development for supporting an argument. An annotated student paper then shows students what these strategies look like in action.Step-by-step editorial apparatus gives students effective methods for approaching and responding to the selections. Chapter introductions, headnotes, and useful glosses help students focus their reading and hone their understanding of the selections. Then, three sets of discussion and writing questions follow every selection:
"Seeing Ideas" shows students how ideas are enacted in the world around them. Every chapter introduction features two images that help illustrate how the ideas of the chapter have played out-historically and more recently-in the real world.
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