Synopses & Reviews
In this fast-paced Information Age, how can Americans know what's really important and what's just a passing fashion? Now more than ever, we need a source that concisely sums up the knowledge that matters to Americans the people, places, ideas, and events that shape our cultural conversation. With more than six thousand entries, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
is that invaluable source.
Wireless technology. Gene therapy. NAFTA. In addition to the thousands of terms described in the original Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, here are more than five hundred new entries to bring Americans' essential knowledge bank up to date. Are you familiar with the digital divide, European Union, Kwanzaa, pheromones, Type A and Type B personalities, spam? Or, test your knowledge on cultural icons that have stood the test of time: Odysseus, Leaves of Grass, Cleopatra, Winston Churchill, the Taj Mahal, and many, many more. Numerous original entries have been revised to reflect the many recent changes in world history and politics, American literature, and, especially, science and technology.
As our world becomes more global and interconnected, it grows smaller through the terms and touchstones that unite us. As E. D. Hirsch writes in the preface, "Community is built up of shared knowledge and values the same shared knowledge that is taken for granted when we read a book or newspaper." A delicious concoction of information for anyone who wants to be in the know, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy brilliantly confirms once again that it is "an excellent piece of work...stimulating and enlightening" (New York Times) the most definitive and comprehensive family sourcebook of its kind.
"It's entertaining, snappily written, extremely handy and reasonably inclusive (although there are bound to be readers who will find issue with Hirsch's well-known conservative ideologies)....Arguments over it will probably not center on its stylistics, but on who or what the editors consider essential e.g., Allen Ginsburg made the cut; Jack Kerouac did not." Publishers Weekly
"[A]n exciting update whose 6900 entries include 1000 revised entries and 500 new ones, 200 of which are in science and technology alone....The entries themselves are complete, concise, and clearly written as well as extensively and effectively cross-referenced. All that need be said about this first-rate reference is that it is well written, well researched, and well worth the money." Library Journal
About the Author
James Trefil is a regular contributor to Smithsonian
magazine and a science commentator on National Public Radio. He is the Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University and lives in Annandale, Virginia.
E.D. Hirsch, Jr. is the Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the author of Cultural Literacy, The First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, and The Core Knowledge Series. Dr. Hirsch is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been a senior fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is president of the Core Knowledge Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to educational reform.
Joseph F. Kett, Commonwealth Professor of History at the University of Virginia, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the author of The Formation of the American Medical Profession: The Role of Institutions, 1780-1860 (1968) and Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America, 1790-Present (1977). He is the co-author of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (1988). A former History Department chair at Virginia, he has also participated on the Panel on Youth of the President's Science Advisory Committee, served on the Board of Editors for the History of Education Quarterly, and is a past member of the Council of the American Studies Association.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the First Edition
The Theory Behind the Dictionary: Cultural Literacy and Education
How to Use This Dictionary
The Bible 1
Mythology and Folklore 27
World Literature, Philosophy, and Religion 83
Literature in English 115
Conventions of Written English 147
Fine Arts 163
World History to 1550 202
World History since 1550 217
American History to 1865 251
American History since 1865 277
World Politics 311
American Politics 329
World Geography 356
American Geography 408
Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology 425
Business and Economics 448
Physical Sciences and Mathematics 473
Earth Sciences 509
Life Sciences 523
Medicine and Health 546
Photo and Illustration Credits 607