New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy What Every American Needs to Know

ISBN-10: 0618226478
ISBN-13: 9780618226474
Edition: 3rd 2002 (Teachers Edition, Instructors Manual, etc.)
List price: $29.95 Buy it from $3.03
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Description: In this fast-paced information age, how can Americans know what's really important and what's just a passing fashion? Now more than ever, we need a source that concisely sums up the knowledge that matters to Americans -- the people, places, ideas,  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Edition: 3rd
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/3/2002
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 672
Size: 8.00" wide x 9.25" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 3.850
Language: English

In this fast-paced information age, how can Americans know what's really important and what's just a passing fashion? Now more than ever, we need a source that concisely sums up the knowledge that matters to Americans -- the people, places, ideas, and events that shape our cultural conversation. With more than six thousand entries,The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy is that invaluable source. Wireless technology. Gene therapy. NAFTA. In addition to the thousands of terms described in the original Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, here are more than five hundred new entries to bring Americans' bank of essential knowledge up to date. The original entries have been fully revised to reflect recent changes in world history and politics, American literature, and, especially, science and technology. Cultural icons that have stood the test of time (Odysseus, Leaves of Grass, Cleopatra, the Taj Mahal, D-Day) appear alongside entries on such varied concerns as cryptography, the digital divide, the European Union, Kwanzaa, pheromones, SPAM, Type A and Type B personalities, Web browsers, and much, much more. As our world becomes more global and interconnected, it grows smaller through the terms and touchstones that unite us. As E. D. Hirsch writes in the preface, "Community is built up of shared knowledge and values -- the same shared knowledge that is taken for granted when we read a book or newspaper, and that is also taken for granted as part of the fabric that connects us to one another." A delicious concoction of information for anyone who wants to be in the know, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy brilliantly confirms once again that it is "an excellent piece of work . . . stimulating and enlightening" (New York Times) -- the most definitive and comprehensive family sourcebook of its kind.

Hirsch is a conservative critic best known for his repudiation of critical approaches to literature (chiefly poststructuralism and New Criticism) that assume that the author's intentions do not determine readings. He argues that any such methodology is guilty of "the organic fallacy," the belief that the text leads a life of its own. For Hirsch, the author's authority is the key to literary interpretation: The critic's job is to reproduce textual meaning by recovering the author's consciousness, which guarantees the validity of an interpretation. In his two most important books, Validity in Interpretation (1967) and its sequel, The Aims of Interpretation (1976), Hirsch warns against the "critical anarchy" that follows from the "cognitive atheism" of both relativism and subjectivism. For him, these result from a corollary of the organic fallacy, the thesis that meaning is ultimately indeterminate because it changes over time or with the differing interests and values of different readers. According to Hirsch, meaning does not change; only value or significance does, as readers relate a text's fixed meaning to their cultures. If there is more than one valid interpretation of a text, it is because literature may be reduced to more than one "intrinsic genre" or meaning type---the particular set of conventions governing ways of seeing and of making meaning at the time the author was writing. Many critics suggest that the intentions Hirsch recovers in intrinsic genres are really his own, rather than those of the author, because no one, including Hirsch, can escape his or her historically conditioned frame of reference when developing interpretations of literature. Hirsch's recent books, including Cultural Literacy (1987), are seen as proof of those flaws by those who are troubled by the history and values of the dominant culture that Hirsch insists is the only culture. Hirsch argues that "common knowledge" is being denied minority students and others by feminists and other "radicals" who have undermined the authority of its great texts.

Joseph F. Kett, James Madison Professor of History at the University of Virginia, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His works include THE FORMATION OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL PROFESSION: THE ROLE OF INSTITUTIONS, 1780-1860 (1968), RITES OF PASSAGE: ADOLESCENCE IN AMERICA, 1790-PRESENT (1977), THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE UNDER DIFFICULTIES: FROM SELF-IMPROVEMENT TO ADULT EDUCATION IN AMERICA, 1750-1990 (1994), and THE NEW DICTIONARY OF CULTURAL LITERACY (2002), of which he is co-author. A former History Department chair at Virginia, he also has participated on the Panel on Youth of the President's Science Advisory Committee, has served on the Board of Editors of the "History of Education Quarterly," and is a past member of the Council of the American Studies Association.

Preface
Introduction to the First Edition
The Theory Behind the Dictionary: Cultural Literacy and Education
How to Use This Dictionary
The Bible
Mythology and Folklore
Proverbs
Idioms
World Literature, Philosophy, and Religion
Literature in English
Conventions of Written English
Fine Arts
World History to 1550
World History since 1550
American History to 1865
American History since 1865
World Politics
American Politics
World Geography
American Geography
Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology
Business and Economics
Physical Sciences and Mathematics
Earth Sciences
Life Sciences
Medicine and Health
Technology
Photo and Illustration Credits
Index

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