Composition Reading Bank: Society & Culture

An Open Educational Resource for Composition Courses

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Bennett, Geoffrey. "Hip-Hop: A Roadblock or Pathway to Black Empowerment?"  info In this 2001 article, Bennett contrasts the legacy of social responsibility in hip-hop with its commercial success. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Birbiglia, Mike. "Stranger in the Night" [Podcast]  infoThis podcast features a comedic excerpt from Birbiglia’s one-man show titled, “Sleepwalk with Me.” In it, Birbiglia shares a story revealing when he learned denial can be both good and bad in your life. Stranger in the Night Transcript (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Bliss, Eula. "Time and Distance Overcome"  infoBliss connects the history of the telephone pole to the history of lynching in the United States. This article makes surprising connections between a variety of events and figures in history to illuminate, in part, how memory, history, prejudice and hate, and our built environment all interact in complex ways. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Narrative; Persuasive)

Brus, Michael. "Self-Loathing Wins Championships"  infoBrus examines the role of attitude and inner monologue in the performance of a tennis player. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Burgess, Anthony. "Is America Falling Apart?"  infoBurgess expresses an opinion on quite a few themes, including consumption, education, and other cultural values in America and contrasts them to how other countries’ people see themselves—where their values and happiness lies. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Expository)

Carmichael, Rodney. "The Prophetic Struggle of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’"  infoCarmichael provides an in-depth evaluative analysis of Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 hip-hop album DAMN, which would go on to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Braiding his personal history with in-depth analysis of the album, Carmichael finds insights via the bible, hip-hop culture, Lamar's previous work, cover art, and synthesis of other non-mainstream interpretations of Lamar's album. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Narrative; Expository; Music and Cultural Analysis)

Comey, James. "Hard Truths: Law Enforcement and Race" [FBI Speech]  infoIn this speech, Comey addresses the issues of unconscious bias, police brutality, prejudice, and police-community relationships. Video Of Speech (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Speech; Expository; Persuasive)

Cooper, Christian H. "Why Poverty Is Like a Disease"  infoCooper weaves his personal history of growing up in poverty with emerging science that shows the biological effects of generational poverty. He argues that we should change societal views to see poverty as a disease in order to end the "lie of American meritocracy." (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Expository; Persuasive)

Daly, Christopher B. "How the Lawyers Stole Winter"  infoDaly compares his childhood experience pond skating in the 1960's with the more recent practice of using safety warnings to prevent litigation. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative; Persuasive)

Dickerson, Debra. "Who Shot Johnny?"  infoDickerson crafts an emotional analysis of prejudice in America as well as a personal reflection on the impact of gun violence in one family. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative; Cultural Analysis)

Fagone, Jason. "What Bullets Do To Bodies"  infoFagone profiles Dr. Amy Goldberg, a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia, which treats more gunshot victims than any other in the state. This feature profile takes an interesting angle on contributing to the continuing conversation of gun violence by focusing on a trauma surgeon's routine and extracurricular work to save the lives of victims of gun violence.(First- and Second-Person Perspective; Profile; Cultural Analysis)

Giamatti, A. Bartlett. "The Green Fields of the Mind"  infoIn this 1977 essay, Giamatti describes on the dramatic nature of baseball. (First-, Second-, and Third-Person Perspective; Profile; Descriptive; Narrative)

Gray, Briahna Joy. "The Question of Cultural Appropriation"  infoGray provides a multi-faceted look at how identity and "ownership" relate to questions of cultural appropriation, borrowing, and exploitation. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Cultural Analysis; Persuasive)

Jones, Jeffrey Owen. "The Man Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance"  infoJones presents an overview of the history of the Pledge of Allegiance, along with some of the debates since, such as adding the phrase "under God." (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

Kilbourne, Jean. "Jesus is a Brand of Jeans"  infoKilbourne argues for the negative impact of ads on the way people construct their own and others' reality or "social consciousness" particularly with regards to consumerism. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Cultural Analysis; Persuasive)

King, Martin Luther, Jr. "The Quest for Peace and Justice"  infoThis speech was delivered by Dr. King in 1964 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. King discusses the three main "evils" of society and provides examples of the cause and effect of each. He also discusses what he believes are the solutions to those evils. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Speech; Expository; Persuasive)

Koch, Katie. "Mentoring Troubled Teens"  infoIn her 2008 article for Boston University Today, then undergrad Katie Koch profiles Boston University graduate Wyatt Posig, a caseworker in the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. (Third-Person Perspective; Profile)

Laitner, Bill. "Detroiter’s Commute of Heart and Sole"  infoIn this profile from the Detroit Free Press, Laitner highlights the 21-mile daily work commute of James Robertson while also addressing issues of accessible transportation for low-income communities. (Third-Person Perspective; Profile)

Leonard, Annie. "The Story of Bottled Water" [Video & Transcript]  infoIn this multimodal text, Leonard presents a case against bottled water and its overuse due to manufactured demand. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Ludden, Jennifer. "Kids' Solo Playtime Unleashes 'Free-Range' Parenting Debate"  infoLudden discusses how attitudes have changed regarding children's autonomy and the recent rise of so-called free-range parenting, which encourages children to roam freely without parental oversight. (Third-Person Perspective; News Article)

McKibben, Bill. "The Case for Single-child Families"  infoMcKibben describes his decision to limit the number of children he has - and the procedure he underwent to ensure he would have no more children. This personal narrative and reflection mixes a first hand account of a vasectomy with a broader critical reflection on population and personal responsibility. (First- and Third-Person Perspective, Descriptive, Narrative, Persuasive)

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. "More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows"  infoMoyer visits high gun-ownership regions in the US and also synthesizes multiple research studies to try to unravel the truth behind gun ownership and crime reduction. This article was published in 2017 in Scientific American. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative; Expository; Persuasive)

Muir, John. "A Wind-Storm in the Forests"  infoMuir vividly describes his adventure into a lush forest during a wind storm and learns about how to experience life. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative)

Oates, Joyce Carol. "Rape and the Boxing Ring"  infoFocusing on Mike Tyson's conviction on rape charges in 2009, Oates reveals what Tyson's career as a boxer had to do with the incident. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Obama, Barack. "Eulogy for Clementa Pinckney"  infoClementa Pinckney was the senior pastor killed in the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In his eulogy, President Obama honors Pickney’s life and contributions and offers statements on reducing gun violence in America. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Eulogy (Speech))

"The Opioid Diaries" Warning: Graphic Pictures  infoThis special report for Time magazine provides a visual and story-telling based record of what the opioid epidemic looks like throughout America. (Third-Person Perspective; News Article; Documentary)

Orwell, George. "Shooting an Elephant"  infoOrwell narrates a story of a Burmese police officer’s internal debate about how to handle a difficult decision. The story was published in 1936. The story includes historical, political, and cultural commentary as well as the officer’s personal ethical dilemmas. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative)

Pargman, David. "End the Charade: Let Athletes Major in Sports"  infoPargman argues that athletes should be able to major in sports, rather than being obligated to pick a major they might be uninterested in. (Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

Plato. "The Allegory of the Cave"  infoIn this allegory, Plato uses the idea of prisoners trapped in a cave to discuss how one should gain knowledge to escape imprisonment and darkness. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative; Allegory)

Quindlen, Anna. "Stuff is Not Salvation"  infoQuindlen explores ideas about consumerism and its effects on human relationships and the environment. (Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

Rauch, Jonathan. "Be Not Afraid"  infoRauch discusses the disconnect between public perception of violence – it’s gone up, versus the reality – it’s gone down dramatically, and our innate overreaction to threats. (Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

Reed, Justin Phillip. "Killing Like They Do in the Movies"  infoReed explores the politics of race in America through the lens of the modern horror film. He specifically focuses on how the portrayal of blackness (or the lack of portrayal) in Wes Craven slasher movies tells a story about the legacy of physical and psychological violence against blacks in America. (First-Person Perspective, Persuasive, Cultural Analysis)

Rose, Mike. "Blue-Collar Brilliance"  infoRose explores the cognitive work involved in blue-collar jobs. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative; Persuasive)

Sanders, Scott Russell. "Under the Influence"  infoIn this reflection on his father's alcoholism and how it has affected him, Sanders realizes that he must face his own potential to be an alcoholic in order to spare his children. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative)

Singer, Peter. "The Why and How of Effective Altruism" [TED Talk]  infoSinger discusses the "best" ways to give to charity to make the most global impact on the largest number of people. He also details ways to re-think and possibly overcome the most common impediments people list as reasons that prevent them from giving. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive; TED Talk)

Skenazy, Lenore. "My Free-Range Parenting Manifesto"  infoSkenazy argues that children need unsupervised outside play to be resilient, entrepreneurial, pleasant adults. She also encourages political action on the subject. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

Thoreau, Henry David. "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"  infoThoreau asks many questions in this essay about the meaning of life and of human's relationship with time (what it is and what it should be). (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative)

Twain, Mark. "Advice to Youth"  infoIn this text of his 1882 lecture, Twain gives (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) advice to young people. (First- and Second-Person Perspective; Lecture; Satire)

White, E.B. "Once More to the Lake"  infoWhite reminisces about his childhood at the lake, comparing it to his return there as an adult with his own son. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative)

Winfrey, Oprah. "Acceptance Speech for the The Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes" [YouTube Video]  infoWinfrey uses this moment to recognize all the difficulties and abuse that powerful women have been able to overcome and emphasizes the importance of the growing change and equality the #MeToo movement has sparked. Transcript of the Speech (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Descriptive; Narrative; Speech)

Zaru, Deena. "7 Hip Hop Artists Making America 'Woke' Again"  infoZaru discusses socially aware hip-hop artists and how they can help society when they use their platform. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository)


Except where otherwise indicated, the Composition Reading Bank by Rachel Brooks-Pannell, Shawn Casey, Rebecca Fleming, and Nick Lakostik at Columbus State Community College is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license does not extend to the contents of external web pages.


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