21G.221 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Communicating in American Culture(s)

Readings and Other Assigned Materials


Gonick = Larry Gonick (2005). The Cartoon History of the United States. Collins Reference. ISBN: 9780062730985.

Graff et al. = Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst (2016). They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN: 9780393617443.

Stewart and Bennett = Edward C. Stewart and Milton J. Bennett (1991). American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Intercultural Press. ISBN: 9781877864018.


 Edward T. Hall and Mildred Reed Hall (1990). Understanding Cultural Differences. Intercultural Press, pp. 3–31. ISBN: 9780933662841.

Lera Boroditsky (2014). “How the Languages We Speak Shape the Ways We Think” (YouTube).


“Cultural Patterns of Perception and Thinking” in Stewart and Bennett, pp. 17–44.

Alexandra Topping, Kate Lyons, and Matthew Weaver (2019). “Gillette #MeToo Razors Ad on ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Gets Praise—and Abuse.” The Guardian, 1/15/2019.

Gillette (2019). “The Best Men Can Be” (YouTube)


Pico Iyer (2013). “Where Is Home?” (TED Talk video).

David Brooks (2017). “How to Leave a Mark on People.” The New York Times, 4/18/2017. 

 Annie Dillard (1987). An American Childhood. Harper & Row, pp. 147–149. ISBN: 9780060158057.

“Friendship” in Stewart and Bennett, pp. 100–102.


John McWhorter (2012). “How Americans Have Reshaped Language.” The New York Times, 1/20/2012.  

“Form of Social Relations” in Stewart and Bennett, pp. 89–99.

“I Take Your Point” in Graff et al., pp. 163–165.

Course Workbook Part 1 (PDF - 1.2 MB)


Charles Dorn (interviewed by Scott Jaschik, 2017). “For the Common Good.” Inside Higher Ed, 6/13/2017. 

Edward Schiappa and John P. Nordin (2013). Keeping Faith with Reason: A Theory of Practical Reasoning. Pearson, pp. 6–23. ISBN: 9781256807223. 

Deborah Tannen. “Agonism in the Academy: Surviving the Argumentation Culture” in Graff et al., pp. 214–220.


MIT ODL Video Services (2018). “No One Writes Alone: Peer Review in the Classroom, A Guide For Students” (video).

Course Workbook Part 2 (PDF - 1.1 MB)


MIT Career Advising and Professional Development. “Resumes, CVs, Cover Letters and LinkedIn.”

Lynda.com. “Tips for Job Interviews.”

Ready4Work.MY (2013). “Get that Job—Making Small Talk” (YouTube).


Colin Woodard (2011). American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Viking Penguin, pp. 1–19. ISBN: 9780143122029.

Colin Woodard (2011). “The American Nations Today” (PDF of map).

Gonick, pp. 1–77.


Aaron David Miller (2013). “How Geography Explains the United States.” Foreign Policy, 4/16/2013.

Richard Wike (2016). “5 Ways Americans and Europeans are Different.” Pew Research Center, 4/19/2016.

Gonick, pp. 93–179.


Course Workbook Part 3 (PDF - 1.2 MB)


Gonick, pp. 183–274.


Peter Yates (director, 1979). Breaking Away (film). 20th Century Fox.


Mugambi Jouet (2017). Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other. University of California Press, pp. 43–62. ISBN: 9780520293298.

Gonick, pp. 273–377.


Robert Wuthnow (2008). “Religion” in Peter H. Schuck and James Q Wilson (eds.), Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation. Public Affairs, pp. 275–305. ISBN: 9781586486952.

Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf (2017). “Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Teaching.” The New York Times, 7/4/2017.

Kevin M. Kruse (2015). “A Christian Nation? Since When?” The New York Times, 3/14/2015.


Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (2018). “Friday Black” in Friday Black. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, pp. 104–114. ISBN: 9781787476011.

Raillan Brooks (2017). “‘He,’ ‘She,’ ‘They’ and Us.” The New York Times, 4/5/2017.

Alex Marshall (2014). “Why ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Is the Perfect Insight into America’s Soul.” The Guardian, 8/11/2014.


Martha Bayles (2008). “Popular Culture” in Schuck and Wilson, pp. 19–28


William Deresiewicz (2011). “Metaphors We Play By.” The American Scholar, 6/6/2011.

Kenneth J. Macri (2012). “Not Just a Game: Sport and Society in the United States.” Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse 4(08). 

Sporting Metaphors website. 


Jessica Franzetti (2017). “Martha Bayles—‘The Urban Singles Sitcom Offers the World a New Version of the American Dream.’” Salzburg Global Seminar, 2/7/2017. 

Josh Katz (2016). “‘Duck Dynasty’ vs. ‘Modern Family’: 50 Maps of the US Cultural Divide.” The New York Times, 12/27/2016.    


Course Workbook Part 4 (PDF - 2 MB)

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019