Popular Culture
A Broadview Topics Reader
  • Publication Date: December 2, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554814909 / 1554814901
  • 304 pages; 6" x 9"

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Popular Culture

A Broadview Topics Reader

  • Publication Date: December 2, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554814909 / 1554814901
  • 304 pages; 6" x 9"

Popular Culture: A Broadview Topics Reader is an accessible collection of non-fiction writing for composition students and students of popular culture. The anthology takes an expansive view of its subject, encompassing advertising, code-switching, social media, emerging technologies, the body positivity movement, cultural appropriation, and more. A wide variety of genres are represented, from personal and literary essays to journalism and academic writing.

Selections are arranged by theme; the book also includes an alternative table of contents listing material by genre and rhetorical style, as well as suggested pairings of pieces that complement each other. Headnotes, explanatory notes, and discussion questions facilitate student engagement with each piece. A selection of color images features advertisements, journalistic photography, and other materials that aim to prompt classroom discussion.


“This reader provides a versatile range of selections that engage with current trends and issues in North American popular culture. The topics addressed—particularly in a cluster of articles on [topics such as] Facebook and social media, and in another on controversies in the NFL—will be appealing to students. … The brief, efficient headnotes provide just enough context to introduce the readings, and essays are followed by a set of generative questions to engage readers.” — Bridget M. Marshall, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Popular Culture: A Broadview Topics Reader offers both breadth and depth to students and instructors. It includes both now-classic texts of cultural criticism (by authors ranging from James Baldwin to Roland Barthes to Gloria Anzaldúa) and more recent interventions (including work by Laila Lalami, Zadie Smith, and Eden Robinson). Divided into seven sections that cover different cultural sites and forms (advertising, technology, sports), the text also focuses on the entanglement of identity and popular culture, with material examining language, race, and Indigeneity, among other areas of vital concern. Of special interest are the groups of essays on particular themes: protest and the US national anthem, as well as social media, democracy, and the self. Instructors will still find the freedom to wander through the volume for other connections, making this a valuable and adaptable work for the classroom.” — Jason Haslam, Dalhousie University

Contents by Genre and Rhetorical Category
Suggested Pairings


  • Roland Barthes
    • from Mythologies
      • Soap-Powders and Detergents
  • Naomi Klein
    • from No Logo
      • The Swoosh
  • Virgie Tovar
    • The BoPo-Washing of Weight Watchers (& The Weight Loss Industry)
  • Emily Nussbaum
    • The Price Is Right: What Advertising Does to TV


  • Ethan Kross, et al.
    • from Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults
  • Anonymous [The Economist]
    • Facebook Is Bad for You: Get a Life!
  • Nathan Heller
    • The Failure of Facebook Democracy
  • Caroline Lester
    • A Study on Driverless-Car Ethics Offers a Troubling Look into Our Values
  • Edmond Awad, et al.
    • from The Moral Machine Experiment


  • Binyavanga Wainaina
    • How to Write about Africa
  • Katy Waldman
    • from There Once Was a Girl: Against the False Narratives of Anorexia
  • Bryan Thao Worra
    • How Can Writers of Color Reconcile H.P. Lovecraft’s Influence with His Racist Legacy?
  • Kristen Gilchrist
    • from “Newsworthy” Victims?
  • Laila Lalami
    • My Life as a Muslim in the West’s “Gray Zone”


  • Adilifu Nama
    • from Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes
  • Carvell Wallace
    • Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America
  • Brent Staples
    • The Movie Get Out Is a Strong Antidote to the Myth of “Postracial” America
  • Zadie Smith
    • Getting In and Out: Who Owns Black Pain?


  • Gloria Anzaldúa
    • from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
      • How to Tame a Wild Tongue
  • Leslie Marmon Silko
    • Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective
  • Yiyun Li
    • To Speak Is to Blunder
  • James Baldwin
    • If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?
  • William Brennan
    • Julie Washington’s Quest to Get Schools to Respect African-American English


  • Roland Barthes
    • from Mythologies
      • Toys
  • Ivan Coyote
    • from Tomboy Survival Guide
      • Tomboys Still
  • Eden Robinson
    • from The Sasquatch at Home: Traditional Protocols and Storytelling
  • Jenny Zhang
    • How It Feels
  • Bettina Love
    • from Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities
      • and Politics in the New South


  • Claudia Rankine
    • from Citizen: An American Lyric
  • Ira Boudway
    • NBA Refs Learned They Were Racist, and That Made Them Less Racist
  • Jonathan Capehart
    • Taking a Knee with Colin Kaepernick and Standing with Stephen Curry against Trump
  • Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
    • The Politicization of Everything: Everybody Loses in the Trump-NFL Brawl over the National Anthem

Biographical Notes
Permissions Acknowledgments

  • Thematic organization: selections appear organized by theme with an alternative table of contents to facilitate teaching by rhetorical category
  • Paired selections address the same subject with different viewpoints or for different audiences
  • Celebrated essayists such as Roland Barthes, James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, Claudia Rankine, and Emily Nussbaum
  • Essays on a wide range of contemporary subjects such as
    • o advertising
    • o code-switching
    • o social media
    • o hip hop
    • o film and television
    • o the body positivity movement
    • o cultural appropriation
  • Diverse forms of prose including online and print journalism, lyric essays, personal essays, academic articles, and lectures
  • Diverse authors: about half the selections in the reader are by women, and more than half are by writers of color
  • Full-color insert with images relevant to specific selections
  • Unobtrusive, helpful apparatus including contextualizing headnotes, explanatory footnotes, and discussion questions for each piece
  • Student website featuring interactive writing exercises
  • Additional explanatory notes for English Language Learners available on the student website