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The third edition of this anthology has been substantially revised and updated for a contemporary American audience; a selection of classic essays from earlier eras has been retained, but the emphasis is very much on twenty-first-century expository writing. Works of different lengths and levels of difficulty are represented, as are narrative, descriptive and persuasive essays—and, new to this edition, lyric essays. For the new edition there are also considerably more short pieces than ever before; a number of op-ed pieces are included, as are pieces from blogs and from online news sources. The representation of academic writing from several disciplines has been increased—and in some cases the anthology also includes news reports presenting the results of academic research to a general audience. Also new to this edition are essays from a wide range of the most celebrated essayists of the modern era—from James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, and Annie Dillard to Eula Biss and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
The anthology remains broad in its thematic coverage, but certain themes receive special emphasis—notably, issues of race, class, and culture in twenty-first century America.
For the new edition the headnotes have been expanded, providing students with more information as to the context in which each piece was written. Questions and suggestions for discussion have been moved online to the instructor website.