Common Culture: Reading + Writing about American Popular Culture

The introduction reading for the course is an analysis of reading and writing techniques used when examining and responding to various types of texts. Using three selected writings about Barbie, Petracca and Sorapure outline 4 steps that will allow readers to actively engage the work.

  1. Preparing to Read
  2. Reading and Annotating
  3. Re-reading
  4. Reviewing

Preparing to read involves gathering background information about the subject, author and time it was written. The process of annotation is used to call out various literary and argumentative techniques authors use to produce various effects or arguments.  Re-reading is beneficial in understanding the entire structure of the work, after analyzing specific parts one can see how they all fit together.  Reviewing a piece involves looking at the “why” of the piece, knowing what is being said and how it is being said why is the author doing what they are doing?

Writing is described as a process that starts generalized and unorganized and gradually gets more specific and structured. It involve


  • Free writing
  • Clustering (visualizing the structure of the argument through diagram)
  • Outlining


  • Thesis
  • Opening paragraph
  • Support Paragraph
  • Evidence
  • Conclusion


  • Distancing
  • Revising

By writing in this way, breaking the process into stages where ideas become more refined and supported, the argument or idea being presented in your thesis will become better developed.

Michael Petracca & Madeleine Sorapure, Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture (Prentice Hall, 2006): 6-38. 


About mhgoblue

Architecture Undergrad University of Michigan

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