Signs of Life in the USA
Ninth Edition   ©2018

Signs of Life in the USA

Readings on Popular Culture for Writers

Sonia Maasik (University of California, Los Angeles) , Jack Solomon (California State University, Northridge)

  • ISBN-10: 1-319-05663-6; ISBN-13: 978-1-319-05663-6; Format: Paper Text, 688 pages

Preface for Instructors

INTRODUCTION

Popular Signs: Or, Everything You Always Knew about American Culture (but Nobody Asked)

American Civil War
From Folk to For-Profit
Pop Culture Goes to College
The Semiotic Method
Abduction and Overdetermination
Interpreting Popular Signs: The War Against Everybody
The Classroom Connection
Of Myths and Men
Getting Started

Writing about Popular Culture

Using Active Reading Strategies
Prewriting Strategies
Developing Strong Arguments about Popular Culture
Conducting a Semiotic Analysis
Reading Visual Images Actively
Reading Essays about Popular Culture

*ELIJAH GREEN: Alfred Lubrano: The Shock of Myopia [student essay]

AMY LIN: Barbie: Queen of Dolls and Consumerism [student essay]

ROSE SOROOSHIAN: The Walking 99 Percent: An Analysis of The Walking Dead in the Context of the 2008 Recession [student essay]

Conducting Research and Citing Sources

SCOTT JASCHIK: A Stand against Wikipedia

PATTI S. CARAVELLO: Judging Quality on the Web

TRIP GABRIEL: For Students in Internet Age, No Shame in Copy and Paste

Chapter 1.

Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption

LAURENCE SHAMES: The More Factor

PAIRED READINGS: UNDERSTANDING SHOPPING

ANNE NORTON: The Signs of Shopping

MALCOLM GLADWELL: The Science of Shopping

*MICHAEL POLLAN: Supermarket Pastoral

Credit Card Barbie [photograph]

JON MOOALLEM: The Self-Storage Self

*CHRIS ARNING: What Can Semiotics Contribute to Packaging Design?

JAMES A. ROBERTS: The Treadmill of Consumption

STEVE McKEVITT: Everything Now

*TROY PATTERSON: The Politics of the Hoodie

THOMAS FRANK: Commodify Your Dissent

Chapter 2.

Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising

When You Come Home [advertisement]

JACK SOLOMON: Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising

PAIRED READINGS: CREATING CONSUMERS

JAMES B. TWITCHELL: What We Are to Advertisers

STEVE CRAIG: Men’s Men and Women’s Women

*JIA TOLENTINO: How "Empowerment" Became Something for Women to Buy

*ALEX MAYYASI: How Subarus Came to Be Seen as Cars for Lesbians

*JESSICA CONTRERA: Most Young People Don't Vote—Condescending to Them Doesn't Help

*KALLE OSKARI MATTILA: The Age of the Wordless Logo

JULIET B. SCHOR: Selling to Children: The Marketing of Cool

*STEPHANIE MILLER: The Power of Play: Gamification Can Change Marketing

JULIA B. CORBETT: A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World

Portfolio of Advertisements

Bose

Buffalo Exchange

California Walnuts

Limbo

Sanuk

Shinola

Air Canada

Chapter 3.

On the Air: Television and Cultural Forms

NEAL GABLER: The Social Networks

PAIRED READINGS: Signifying Women on TV

*ANNA KESZEG: What Their Clothes Tell Us About Those Girls

CLAIRE MIYE STANFORD: You’ve Got the Wrong Song: Nashville and Country Music Feminism

*JOHN SHERMAN: The New Normative: Queer Politics in The Outs

*OLIVIA GOLDHILL: Trump Supporters Are Living in a Reality Shaped by Television

NICK SERPE: Reality Pawns: The New Money TV

*EMILY NUSSBAUM: The Aristocrats: The Graphic Arts of Game of Thrones

*MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI: The One Paradigm to Rule Them All: Scientism and The Big Bang Theory

*CLARA McNULTY-FINN: The Evolution of Rap

Chapter 4.

The Hollywood Sign: The Culture of American Film

ROBERT B. RAY: The Thematic Paradigm

PAIRED READINGS: Fantasy and Film

CHRISTINE FOLCH: Why the West Loves Sci-Fi and Fantasy: A Cultural Explanation

*ABRAHAM RIESMAN: What We Talk about When We Talk about Batman and Superman

LINDA SEGER: Creating the Myth

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The Offensive Movie Cliché That Won’t Die

HELENA ANDREWS: The Butler versus The Help: Gender Matters

Lee Daniels’ The Butler [movie poster]

JESSICA HAGEDORN: Asian Women in Film: No Joy, No Luck

MICHAEL PARENTI: Class and Virtue

MICHAEL AGRESTA: How the Western Was Lost — and Why It Matters

DAVID DENBY: High-School Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies

Chapter 5.

The Cloud: Semiotics and the New Media

INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC AGENDA: Students Addicted to Social Media

PAIRED READINGS: The Digital Panopticon

*RONALD J. DEIBERT: Black Code: Surveillance, Privacy, and the Dark Side of the Internet

JOSEPH TUROW: The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth

*ERIN LEE: How Effective is Social Media Activism?

*BRIAN DUNNING: Slacktivism: Raising Awareness

*BROOKE GLADSTONE: Influencing Machines: The Echo Chambers of the Internet

*JOHN HERRMAN: Inside Facebook's (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine

*TIMOTHY B. LEE: Pokemon Go is Everything that is Wrong with Late Capitalism

*NANCY JO SALES: From the Instamatic to Instagram: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

*DANAH BOYD: It's Complicated: MySpace vs. Facebook

*S. CRAIG WATKINS: The Evolution of #Black Twitter

Navigating On- and Offline Lives [photograph]

Chapter 6.

My Selfie, My Self: Identity and Ideology in the New Millennium

MICHAEL OMI: In Living Color: Race and American Culture

PAIRED READINGS: PERFORMING GENDER

AARON DEVOR: Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes

DEBORAH BLUM: The Gender Blur: Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over?

Gender Identity Online [photograph]

*MICHAEL HULSHOF-SCHMIDT: What’s in an Acronym? Parsing the LGBTQQIP2SAA Community

KEVIN JENNINGS: American Dreams

*SAMANTHA RAPHELSON: From GIs to Gen Z (Or Is It iGen?): How Generations Get Nicknames

RACHEL LOWRY: Straddling Online and Offline Profiles, Millennials Search for Identity

*BRITTANY COOPER: Hollywood’s Post-Racial Mirage: How Pop Culture Got Gentrified

*LILLIANA MASON: Why Are Americans So Angry This Election Season?

Chapter 7.

American Paradox: Culture, Conflict, and Contradiction in the U.S.A.

*BARBARA EHRENREICH: Bright-Sided

PAIRED READINGS: The Consequences of Contradictions

*JEFFREY FLEISHMAN: How an Angry National Mood is Reflected in Pop Culture

*JIM TANKERSLEY: Why the Upper Middle Class Might be the Real Target of Today's Anger

GEORGE PACKER: Celebrating Inequality

ALFRED LUBRANO: The Shock of Education: How College Corrupts

RANDALL KENNEDY: Blind Spot

MARIAH BURTON NELSON: I Won. I’m Sorry

WADE GRAHAM: Are We Greening Our Cities, or Just Greenwashing Them?

Glossary

Acknowledgements

Index of Authors and Titles