Literature: The Human Experience 13th Edition by Richard Abcarian, ISBN-13: 978-1319105068


Literature: The Human Experience 13th Edition by Richard Abcarian, ISBN-13: 978-1319105068

[PDF eBook eTextbook]

  • Publisher: ‎ Bedford/St. Martin’s; Thirteenth edition (October 2, 2018)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • 1344 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 1319105068
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1319105068


We believe that students are most immediately engaged by works in which they can see themselves. The ability of students to connect their experiences to those they read about does not mean they should be assigned nothing but literature about students or Americans or Westerners or young people from anywhere; it does mean that the human experience, in its dazzling variety, can be represented in art and that students can respond to it no matter the different circumstances of reader and writer. In gathering these works, we tried to meet students where they live and take them to places they have never seen. The best way to do this is to concentrate on different themes drawn from human experience and to ask students to read divergent perspectives on these themes. Thus, the anthology is organized into five thematic sections: “Innocence and Experience,” “Conformity and Rebellion,” “Culture and Identity,” “Love and Hate,” and “Life and Death.” Each section opens with a short introductory essay and questions that invite students to reflect on their own experiences with the chapter’s theme.

To enhance teaching flexibility, the thematic structure features two subordinate arrangements of the literature. Embedded in each thematic section, the stories, poems, plays, and essays are grouped by genre; within each genre, selections are arranged chronologically by author’s birth date. (The date following the title indicates the selection’s first appearance in a book. We have not attempted to date traditional ballads.) The dates, together with an appendix containing biographical notes on the authors, provide students with a brief historical context for each work. So whether you teach literature thematically, generically, or historically—or some combination of the three—the organization of Literature: The Human Experience accommodates your approach.

The thematic sections are also punctuated with twenty-four short units that pair or cluster literary works—often classic with contemporary. While promoting comparative critical thinking with their accompanying questions and writing assignments, these compact clusters provide engaging reading for students. For example, “America through Immigrants’ Eyes” brings together poets from Phillis Wheatley to Richard Blanco, and in “Confusing Loves,” stories by Junot Díaz and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are joined in a pairing about the pain that often accompanies young love. The new nonfiction pair “Where We Are From” couples James Baldwin’s powerful reflection on growing up in Harlem, “Notes of a Native Son,” with Joan Didion’s complicated elegy to California, “Notes from a Native Daughter.”


Two introductory chapters, “Reading Literature” and “Writing about Literature,” give students the tools to think about and appreciate what they read and to put those thoughts into words. In these chapters, we discuss the formal elements of each genre, provide descriptions and samples of various forms of written response and documentation, and show an annotated student research paper. Throughout the thematic sections, study questions challenge students to analyze works, to make connections between them, and to write about them in a variety of ways. At the end of the book, the “Glossary of Critical Approaches” and the “Glossary of Literary Terms” provide additional resources for students learning about how to approach literature.

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