• Building a Religion

    As I head into the summer recess for my Bits blogs, I find myself contemplating the cultural significance of the rise and apparent fall of Theranos, the troubled biotech startup that was once heralded as a disruptive ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • What's With All the Wisecracking?

    One of my all-time favorite readings from past editions of Signs of Life in the USA is Andy Medhurst's "Batman, Deviance, and Camp." In that analysis of how the original muscle-man clone of Superman morphed into "Fred...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Nothing Succeeds Like Success

    The lead-in to the L.A. Times article on the Tony Award nominations really caught my attention. Here it is:   "'SpongeBob SquarePants,' 'Mean Girls' and 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.' 'Angels in America,...
    Jack Solomon
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  • The Phenomenology of Facebook

      Though there have been some very high profile participants in the "movement" (can you spell "Elon Musk"?), I am not aware that the #deletefacebook movement is making much of a real dent in Facebook's membershi...
    Jack Solomon
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  • All in the Family: Or, the Return of "Roseanne"

    In 1971, Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin reconfigured a popular British sitcom featuring a bigoted working class patriarch (Till Death Do Us Part) to create America's All in the Family. A massive hit, All in the Family con...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Things Fall Apart

      While there appears to be some significant doubt over whether Cambridge Analytica really had much effect on the outcome of 2016 presidential election (Evan Halper at the L.A. Times makes a good case that it di...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Critical Thinking in an Age of Madness

    I had not planned on writing on this topic as my Bits Blog posting deadline approached. But when a headline in the L.A. Times on February 21st blared that "Conspiracy theories about Florida school shooting survivors h...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Super Ads 2018: Or the Dog that Didn't Bark in the Night

      Yes, it's that time of year again: time for Super Bowl Semiotics, advertising division. And as I contemplate this year's rather uninspiring, and uninspired, lineup, I find myself realizing that the ads were mo...
    Jack Solomon
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  • The Anatomy of a Methodology

    Since the publication of the first edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A in 1994, semiotics has become a popular instrument in promoting critical thinking skills in composition classrooms. With such a broad variety of...
    Jack Solomon
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  • War Everlasting

      In "The Myth of Superman," the late Umberto Eco's pioneering essay on the semiotics of superheroes, a useful distinction is drawn between the heroes of myth and those of the traditional novel. What Eco points ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Reading InsideHigherEd.com

    Everyone has a secret vice, I suppose, and mine is reading online newspapers like Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education—as in multiple times every day. I admit that there is something compulsive...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Thor Ragnarok: Or, It’s Déjà vu All Over Again

    So Thor is back, hammering his way to another blockbusting run at the box office. But this time, it's almost as if the producers of Thor: Ragnarok read an analysis I posted to this blog on November 11, 2013, when Thor...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: A Cover Story

    In my last blog (Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: A Portrait of the Project as a Young Book) I indicated that I might tell the story of the various book covers that have been used for Signs of Life in the U.S.A. over the ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: A Portrait of the Project as a Young Book

    The arrival of the authors' copies of the ninth edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A. prompts me to reflect here on the history of this—at least for Sonia Maasik and myself—life-changing project...
    Jack Solomon
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  • The Uses of Objectivity

    I take my title, and topic, for my last blog before the summer break from two pieces appearing in today's (as I write this) online news. One, John Warner's essay "The Pitfalls of 'Objectivity,'" appears in Inside High...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Politics and Popular Culture

    One of the most common objections from students whose instructors use popular culture as a basis for teaching writing and critical thinking skills in their classes is that it (pop culture) "is only entertainment," and...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Coping Without Catharsis

    It's beginning to feel like every time I sit down to write this bi-weekly blog of mine that America has just endured another calamity of such mind-numbing atrociousness that I can't simply ignore it, while at the same...
    Jack Solomon
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  • They're Ba-ack!

    Creepy clowns are back, and Hollywood is counting on them to deliver big box office after what appears to have been a slow summer for the movie industry—at least according to the L. A. Times.  I've visited ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Power, Postmodernism, and Populist Politics

    Last Spring I left off in this blog with an exploration of what I called “The Uses of Objectivity.” That essay probed the inadvertent relationships between poststructural theory and the current climate of ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Unintended Consequences

    It could be argued that the biggest popular cultural phenomenon of our era has been the advent of digital technology and the Internet—a techo-cultural intervention at least as profound as television, in its time...
    Jack Solomon
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