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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $52.00
  • March 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93349-9
  • 704 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

Reading the World

Ideas That Matter

Second Edition


Michael Austin (Author, Newman University)


The only great ideas reader to offer a global perspective.

Western and non-Western, classic and contemporary, longer and shorter, verbal and visual, accessible and challenging. With 72 readings by thinkers from around the world—Plato to Toni Morrison, Lao Tzu to Aung San Suu Kyi—Reading the World is the only great ideas reader for composition students that offers a truly global perspective.

The Second Edition offers more contemporary readings and provides more help to make the texts accessible for undergraduate readers. Brief overviews of each reading give students a sense of what the piece is about, and detailed headnotes call attention to the rhetoric of each reading to help students focus not only on what the authors say but also on how they say it.


The only great ideas reader with a global perspective


A wide selection of Western and non-Western texts allows students to explore the development of ideas at different times and in different cultures. Nearly half of the selections come from Eastern, Islamic, Indian, African, and South American sources; new to this edition are Native American, Canadian, and Inupiat texts.


Challenging texts made accessible to undergraduate readers

 Headnotes provide necessary contextual background and point out some of the rhetorical strategies used in the text, to help students focus not only on what the authors say but also on how they say it. Study questions and writing prompts focus students’ attention on key ideas and connections between texts. Unfamiliar words are carefully glossed.

Following each headnote, the reading is introduced by a brief overview of what the piece is about, to help students make their way through these unfamiliar and sometimes challenging texts.

Treats images as texts, not just illustrations


Because ideas are not always expressed in words alone, Reading the World includes 18 images—a page from the New England Primer, a still from Triumph of the Will, Picasso’s Guernica, an Igbo sculpture, and more–and treats them as texts, with headnotes and study questions.

100 pages of reading and writing instruction


These chapters help students read with a critical eye and take them through the process of writing about ideas, from generating their own ideas to supporting their claims to documenting their sources.

A good balance


Reading the World has a careful balance of Western and non-Western texts, classic and contemporary, longer and shorter, accessible and challenging. Of the 72 texts, 39 are classic and 33 are modern; 31 are more than 5 pages and 41 are 5 or fewer pages; and 29 are non-Western and 43 are Western. The Second Edition includes more contemporary readings, including ones by Edward O. Wilson, Desmond Tutu, Toni Morrison, and Barack Obama.

    Part I: Reading the World


    1. *Greek Schoolchildren (460 BCE)
    2. Hsün Tzu: “Encouraging Learning” (circa 250 BCE)
    3. *Seneca: “On Liberal and Vocational Studies” (ca. 55 CE)
    4. Al Ghazali: “Manners to Be Observed by Teachers and Students” (1096)
    5. Page from the New England Primer (1777)
    6. Mary Wollstonecraft: “National Education” (1791)
    7. Frederick Douglass: “Learning to Read and Write” (1845)
    8. John Henry Newman: “Knowledge Its Own End” (1852)
    9. Paulo Freire: “The Banking Concept of Education” (1970, revised 1993)
    10. *Richard Feynman: “O Americano, Outra Vez” (1985)
    11. *Kisautaq Leona Okakok: “Education: A Lifelong Process” (1989)

    Human Nature

    1. Shrine of the Dead Man (14,000 BCE)
    2. *Plato: “The Speech of Aristophanes” (385 BCE)
    3. Mencius: “Man’s Nature is Good” (circa 300 BCE)
    4. Hsun Tzu: “Man’s Nature Is Evil” (circa 300 BCE)
    5. *Nāgārjuna: “The Precious Garland” (circa 200 BCE)
    6. *Leonardo da Vinci: Vitruvian Man (1487)
    7. Thomas Hobbes: from Leviathan (1651)
    8. Igbo Mother and Child (19th–20th century)
    9. Ruth Benedict: “The Individual and the Pattern of Culture” (1934)
    10. *Edward O. Wilson: “The Fitness of Human Nature” (1988)

    Law and Government

    1. The Papyrus of Ani (1240 BCE)
    2. Lao Tzu: from the Tao te Ching (400 BCE)
    3. *Abu Nasr al-Farabi: “On the Perfect State” (circa 900)
    4. Christine de Pizan: from The Treasure of the City of Ladies (1405)
    5. Niccoló Machiavelli: from The Prince (1513)
    6. *Lin Tse-hsü: “A Letter to Queen Victoria” (1839)
    7. Leni Riefenstahl: Triumph of the Will (1935)
    8. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963)
    9. Aung San Suu Kyi: “In Quest of Democracy” (1990)
    10. *Desmond Tutu: “Nuremberg or National Amnesia: A Third Way” (1997)

    War and Peace

    1. Sun Tzu: from The Art of War (400-320 BCE)
    2. *Mo Tzu: “Against Offensive Warfare” (circa 425 BCE)
    3. St. Thomas Aquinas: from Summa Theologica (1265-74)
    4. *Progress of an Aztec Warrior (1541)
    5. Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People (1830)
    6. Pablo Picasso: Guernica (1937)
    7. Margaret Mead: “Warfare: An Invention—Not a Biological Necessity” (1940)
    8. George Orwell: “Pacifism and the War” (1942)
    9. *Kenzaburo Oe: “The Unsurrendered People” (1965)
    10. Jean Bethke Elshtain: “What Is a Just War?” (2003)

    Wealth, Poverty, and Social Class

    1. Mo Tzu: “Against Music” (circa 425 BCE)
    2. New Testament: Luke, Chapter 16 (circa 90 CE)
    3. William Hogarth: Gin Lane (1751)
    4. Thomas Malthus: from Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)
    5. Mohandas K. Gandhi: “Economic and Moral Progress” (1916)
    6. *Dorothea Lange: “Migrant Mother” (1936)
    7. Octavio Paz: “The Day of the Dead” (1961)
    8. *Lucy Lameck: “Africans Are Not Poor” (1965)
    9. Garrett Hardin: “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor” (1974)
    10. *Muhammad Yunus: “The Stool Makers of Jobra Village” (1999)
    11. *Barack Obama: “A More Perfect Union” (2008)

    Science and Nature

    1. Cosmological Chart of Ptolemy’s Universe (circa 150 BCE)
    2. *Beatus Map (776 CE)
    3. Averroës: from On the Harmony of Religions and Philosophy (1190 CE)
    4. *Moses Maimonides: “The Guide for the Perplexed” (circa 1200)
    5. Joseph Wright of Derby: An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768)
    6. Charles Darwin: “Natural Selection” (1859)
    7. Rachel Carson: “The Obligation to Endure” (1962)
    8. *David Suzuki: “The Sacred Balance” (1997)
    9. Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan: “The Universe in a Grain of Sand” (2001)
    10. *Al Gore: “The Climate Emergency” (2004)
    11. *The Galaxy Cluster Abell 2667 (2007)

    Language and Rhetoric

    1. *Aspasia: “Pericles’ Funeral Oration” (circa 387 BCE)
    2. Plato: from Gorgias (380 BCE)
    3. Aristotle: from Rhetoric (350 BCE)
    4. *Gertrude Buck: “The Present State of Rhetorical Theory” (1900)
    5. Norman Rockwell: Freedom of Speech (1943)
    6. Chinua Achebe: “Language and the Destiny of Man” (1972)
    7. Ad for Chinese Population Policy (1980)
    8. *N. Scott Momaday, “The Power and Beauty of Language” (1987)
    9. Gloria Anzaldua: “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” (1987)
    10. *Toni Morrison, “Nobel Lecture” (1993)

    Part II: A Guide to Reading and Writing

    Reading Ideas

    1. Prereading
    2. Annotating
    3. Identifying Patterns
    4. Reading Visual Texts
    5. Summarizing
    6. Reading with a Critical Eye

    Generating Ideas

    1. Considering Expectations
    2. Exploring Your Topic
    3. Achieving Subtlety

    Structuring Ideas

    1. Thesis Statements
    2. Introductions
    3. Transitions
    4. Conclusions

    Supporting Ideas

    1. Supporting Claims
    2. Logos: Appealing to Reason
    3. Pathos: Emotional Appeals
    4. The Writer’s Ethos

    Synthesizing Ideas

    1. Summarizing Multiple Sources
    2. Comparing and Contrasting
    3. Finding Themes and Patterns
    4. Synthesizing Ideas to Form Your Own Argument

    Incorporating Ideas

    1. Finding Sources
    2. Finding and Evaluating Sources
    3. Quoting, Summarizing, and Paraphrasing
    4. Giving Credit through Proper Attribution

    Revising and Editing

    1. Rethinking
    2. Rewriting
    3. Editing

    *new to this edition