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Paperback 416 pp.
16 figures; 14 tables; 11 photos, 8" x 10"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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The Active Reader

Strategies for Academic Reading and Writing, Fourth Edition

Eric Henderson

The Active Reader offers a practical, integrated treatment of academic reading and writing at the post-secondary level. Thirty-two thought-provoking readings that highlight a variety of disciplines and rhetorical patterns are accompanied by comprehension and analysis exercises that encourage students to apply critical thinking skills to their assignments.

Readership : The Active Reader is a core text for introductory English composition courses at the university level.


  • "[This] is the only textbook I have found with a Canadian focus which provides instruction in writing summaries, analyses, and research essays, combined with a strong selection of academic (rather than journalistic) essays."
    --Suzanne James, University of British Columbia

  • "The author's tone and style hit just the right note for introduction to academic writing. The inclusion of student essays and 'Active Voice' essays make academic writing more accessible to students who have read little in this genre. Chapters on critical thinking and reading strategies are a very welcome addition."
    --Betsy Keating, University of Windsor

Sample Student Essays and "The Active Voice" Essays
From the Publisher
Part One: Academic Reading: An Introduction
1. An Introduction to Academic Prose
- What Is Academic Writing?
-- What Are Conventions?
- General Features of Academic Writing
-- Knowledge across the Disciplines
-- Audience: Who Reads Academic Writing?
- The Purposes of Academic Writing
-- An Exchange of Ideas
-- Analysis, Synthesis, and Academic Writing
- The Influence of the Academic Community
-- A Self-Regulating Community
2. Conventions of Academic Writing
- Authors
- Length
- Research
-- Research Sources
-- Documenting Sources
- Voice and Style
-- Objectivity and Style
-- Language and Academic Writing
Strategies for Approaching Academic Essays
-- Previewing Content: Titles
-- Features of Introductions in Academic Writing
-- Features of Conclusions in Academic Essays
3. Three Common Kinds of Academic Essays
- Type A: Humanities (Qualitative) Essays
- Type B: Empirical (Experimental) Essays
-- Type B Subgenre: Qualitative Methodologies
- Type C: Synthesis/Critical Review Essays
- Tables, Graphs, and Other Visuals
-- Reading Tables and Graphs
- Academic Essay Formats
-- Type A: Sample Professional Essay: Excerpt from "Speed That Kills: The Role of Technology in Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour," Jeremy Foote
-- Type B: Sample Professional Essay: Adaptive Responses to Social Exclusion: Social Rejection Improves Detection of Real and Fake Smiles, Michael J. Bernstein et al.
-- Type C: Sample Professional Essay: Why Ordinary People Torture Enemy Prisoners, Susan T. Fiske, Lasana T. Harris, and Amy J.C. Cuddy
4. Critical Thinking
- When Do You Use Critical Thinking?
- Inferences and Critical Thinking
- Critical Thinking and Skepticism
- The Spirit of Inquiry
- Critical Factors in Critical Thinking
- Drawing Conclusions
- Using Critical Thinking to Determine the Writer's Attitude
5. Reading Strategies
- Interacting with Texts
-- Annotating Texts
-- Pre-Reading Strategies: Reading Purpose
- Reading Strategies: The Big Picture
-- Selective Reading: Scanning and Focused Reading
Reading Strategies: The Detail Work
-- Connotations and Denotations
-- Linguistic Resources
Part Two: Academic Writing
6. An Overview of the Essay
The Stages in Writing
-- Coming Up with a Thesis
-- Pre-writing Techniques
-- Finding Support
-- Relating Parts and Discovering Structure
-- Composing
-- Revising
- The Structure of the Essay
-- Writing Introductions
-- Writing Middle Paragraphs
-- Writing Strong Paragraphs
-- Rhetorical Patterns and Paragraph Development
-- Kinds of Evidence
-- Issues of Credibility
-- Writing Conclusions
7. Writing Summaries
- Times and Places for Summaries
-- Summarizing the Research
- The Stand-Alone Summary: The Précis
-- Ten Pointers for Précis Writing
-- A How-To of Précis Writing
-- Some Summary Writing Strategies
-- Sample Summary: NEW Taking Race Out of Human Genetics, Michael Yudell, Dorothy Roberts, Rob DeSalle, and Sarah Tishkoff
8. Using Critical Thinking to Analyze Essays
- The Rhetorical Analysis: Explaining the How and Why
-- Organizing a Rhetorical Analysis
-- Sample Student Rhetorical Analysis: NEW Rhetorical Analysis of "Reality TV Gives Back: On the Civic Functions of Reality Entertainment," Sean MacLean
9. Writing Argumentative Essays
- Argumentative Purpose
-- Academic Arguments
-- Everyday Arguments
-- Facts versus Opinions
- Claims in Argument
-- Arguable Claims
-- Specific Claims
-- Realistic Claims
- Kinds of Evidence in Argumentative Essays
-- Facts, Statistics, and Scientific Studies
-- Experts and Authorities
-- Examples and Illustrations
-- Precedents
-- Personal Experience
- Two Kinds of Reasoning
- Using Reason in Arguments
- Failures in Reasoning
- Giving Life to Logic: Strategies for Argument
-- Rhetorical Patterns
-- Refutation Strategies
- Organizing Your Argument
- Sample Student Argumentative Essay (MLA Citation Style) Agroecology Essentials: Ecological Farming Alternatives for a Modern World, Megan Wilson
- Using Critical Thinking to Analyze Arguments
-- The Language of Argument
-- Sample Student Essay: A Critical Analysis of "Universities, Governments and Industry: Can the Essential Nature of Universities Survive the Drive to Commercialize?" Simon N. Young and Taylor Lingl
Sample Professional Argumentative Essay with Annotations: NEW Added Sugars on Nutrition Labels: A Way to Support Population Health in Canada, Jodi T. Bernstein and Mary L'Abbé
10. Writing Research Papers
- Coming Up with a Topic
- Preparing for Research
- Research Proposals: Sample Proposal: Proposal for Research Essay on the Effects of Implementing Prison-Based Needle Exchange Programs in Canadian Federal Prisons, Kate Newcombe
- Recording Important Information
-- Organizing Research Notes
- Using Credible Sources
-- Credibility Issues in Online Sources
-- Sponsors and Authors
-- Accuracy and Currency
-- Objectivity
-- Scope and Comprehensiveness
-- Other Issues
- Integrating and Documenting Sources
-- Integrating Your Sources: Summary versus Paraphrase
-- Direct Quotation and Mixed Format
-- Integrating Quotations
- Documenting Your Sources
-- Plagiarism
- Major Documentation Styles
-- MLA (Modern Language Association) Style
-- MLA Sample Formats
-- APA (American Psychological Association) Style
-- APA Sample Formats
-- CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) Style
-- CMS Sample Formats
-- Sample Student Research Essay: NEW Curing the Incurable: Understanding Addiction Beyond the Disease Factor Sam Perreault
Part Three: The Reader
Section One: University Issues
- Academic Language and the Challenge of Reading for Learning about Science, Catherine E. Snow
- Tracking Affect and Academic Success across University: Happy Students Benefit from Bouts of Negative Mood, Erin T. Barker et al. NEW
- Social Norms of Alcohol, Smoking, and Marijuana Use within a Canadian University Setting, Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos et al.
- Universities, Governments and Industry: Can the Essential Nature of Universities Survive the Drive to Commercialize?, Simon N. Young
- Intellectuals and Democracy, Mark Kingwell
Section Two: Canada in the World
- Of Hockey, Medicare and Canadian Dreams, Stephen J. Toope
- When Canada Goes Viral: The Canada Party and the Circulation of Political Satire, Kimberley McLeod NEW
- Sovereignty and Security in the Canadian North: (Re)learning the Lessons, P. Whitney Lackenbauer NEW
- Being CBC: The Ambivalent Identities and Belonging of Canadian-Born Children of Immigrants, Audrey Kobayashi and Valerie Preston NEW
- Causes and Consequences of Canada's Resettlement of Syrian Refugees, Anne-Marie Bélanger McMurdo
Section Three: Voices within Canada
- Mental Wellness in Canada's Aboriginal Communities: Striving Toward Reconciliation, Patricia Boksa, Ridha Joober, and Laurence J. Kirmayer NEW
- A Sorry State, Mitch Miyagawa
- The Senate and the Fight against the 1885 Chinese Immigration Act, Christopher G. Anderson
- Missing in Action: Gender in Canada's Digital Economy Agenda, Leslie Regan Shade
- Social Justice and Social Determinants of Health: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersexed, and Queer Youth in Canada, Deborah Dysart-Gale NEW
- Learning Disabilities in Canada, Kim Calder Stegemann NEW
Section Four: Media and Image
- Sleep Problems: Predictor or Outcome of Media Use among Emerging Adults at University?, Royette Tavernier and Teena Willoughby NEW
- Reality TV Gives Back: On the Civic Functions of Reality Entertainment, Laurie Ouellette
- Jurassic World and Procreation Anxiety, Richard Dyer NEW
- Self-reported Food Skills of University Students, Courtney K. Wilson et al. NEW
- Healthy Choice?: Exploring How Children Evaluate the Healthfulness of Packaged Foods, Charlene Elliott and Meaghan Brierley
- A Ban on Marketing of Foods/Beverages to Children: The Who, Why, What and How of a Population Health Intervention, Daniel J. Dutton et al.
Section Five: Society of Excess?
- Waste Not, Want Not, Emit Less, Jessica Aschemann-Witzel NEW
- Addressing Driver Aggression: Contributions from Psychological Science, Christine M. Wickens, Robert E. Mann, and David L. Wiesenthal
- Pharmaceutical Innovation: Can We Live Forever? A Commentary on Schnittker and Karandinos, Joel Lexchi
- Cyberbullying Myths and Realities, Russell A. Sabella, Justin W. Patchin, and Sameer Hinduja
- The More You Play, the More Aggressive You Become: A Long-Term Experimental Study of Cumulative Violent Video Game Effects on Hostile Expectations and Aggressive Behavior, Youssef Hasan et al.
Section Six: Intersections with Science
- The Social Dilemma of Autonomous Vehicles, Jean-François Bonnefon, Azim Shariff, and Iyad Rahwan NEW
- Taking Race Out of Human Genetics: Engaging a Century-Long Debate about the Role of Race in Science, Michael Yudell et al. NEW
- Speed That Kills: The Role of Technology in Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour", Jeremy Foote
- Psychology's Essential Role in Alleviating the Impacts of Climate Change, Robert Gifford
- Community Perspectives on the Impact of Climate Change on Health in Nunavut, Canada, G.K. Healey et al.
Appendix A: A Note on Statistics
Appendix B: Characteristics of Type A, Type B, and Type C Essays (Chart)
Subject Index
Index of Essay Types

Instructor's Manual:
- Answer keys to activities and to selected post-reading questions in the Reader section
- Links to additional online resources
PowerPoint slides:
For each chapter:
- 10-15 lecture outline slides
Student Study Guide:
- Additional activities for selected chapters
For each chapter:
- Chapter summary
- Key terms
- 10-15 interactive quiz/review questions
- Comparison questions and essay questions for the Reader section
E-book ISBN 9780199030668

Eric Henderson is an active author with Oxford University Press Canada, where his other books include Becoming an Active Reader, 2e (2016), The Empowered Writer, 3e (2017), Writing by Choice, 3e (2015), and Short Fiction & Critical Contexts (co-edited with J. Hancock, 2009). He has also published articles in leading journals such as Canadian Literature, English Studies in Canada, and Contemporary Literary Criticism. He teaches in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, where his teaching interests include composition, rhetoric, and style.

Writing by Choice - Eric Henderson
The Empowered Writer - Kathleen M. Moran and Eric Henderson
Becoming an Active Reader - Eric Henderson
Writing for the Academic Disciplines - Sally Hayward
The Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, The late Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes
The Concise Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, The late Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes

Special Features

  • Canadian readings, examples, and sample essays make this an ideal text for teaching post-secondary reading and writing in this country.
  • Classroom-tested approach extends beyond formulaic instruction, helping students think critically and become confident readers and writers at the university level.
  • Selection of readings drawn from a range of disciplines - such as health sciences, environmental studies, political science, history, and more - makes the text ideal for students with varying interests and academic backgrounds.
  • Sample student and professional essays give students models for their own work.
  • The Active Voice boxes offer expert advice on key themes and concepts from instructors and writing professionals.
  • Suggested activities throughout the text help students gain practical skills and give them the opportunity to work both individually and collaboratively.
  • Key points in the rhetoric section are illustrated by excerpts from the readings, offering students cohesive and clear instruction throughout.
  • Fully cross-referenced to identify essays with similar subject matter, promoting comparative analyses among essays.
  • Marginal key term definitions ensure students understand key terms and concepts as they appear in the text, while a glossary provides all of these definitions in one place for quick reference.
New to this Edition
  • Fifteen new readings providing accessible, timely selections on topics that are relevant to students - such as political satire; autonomous vehicles; resettlement of Syrian refugees; mental wellness in Indigenous communities; and sleep problems caused by use of electronic media.
  • Full-colour design provides students with a vibrant, accessible, and visually appealing resource.
  • Five readings on the topic of food are available for instructors who like to teach a series of essays as a concentrated thematic unit. (Ch. 10 and the Reader section)
  • Updated coverage of MLA (2016 update), APA, and CMS documentation styles gives students access to the most current documentation requirements (Ch. 10). This section also features colour coding of in-text and reference citations to help students recognize their common elements.