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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

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Third Edition
Edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph Kett, and James Trefil

Building on the premise that there is a core body of information shared by literate Americans, this comprehensive reference book attempts to identify and define that body of shared knowledge. The Dictionary is organized into 23 subject sections, with each section providing hundreds of entries that clearly and concisely explain names, phrases, events, ideas, and other items that make up what Hirsch has described as “cultural literacy.” Contains more than 250 maps, charts, and illustrations.

(Revised and updated 2002)

Building on the premise that there is a core body of information shared by literate Americans, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy attempts to identify and define that body of shared knowledge. This comprehensive reference book is organized into 23 subject sections, with each section providing hundreds of entries that clearly and concisely explain names, phrases, events, ideas, and other items that make up what Hirsch has described as “cultural literacy.” The book contains more than 250 maps, charts, and illustrations.

From the Introduction: “Although it is true that no two humans know exactly the same things, they often have a great deal of knowledge in common. To a large extent this common knowledge or collective memory allows people to communicate, to work together, and to live together. It forms the basis for communities, and if it is shared by enough people, it is a distinguishing characteristic of a national culture. . . . It is our contention that such a body of information is shared by literate Americans . . . and that this body of knowledge can be identified and defined. This dictionary is a first attempt at this task.”

The revised and updated edition contains about 500 new entries (out of nearly 7,000), many on topics in science and technology, and the remainder on topics in history, politics, and geography. About an thousand entries have been revised for clarity and updated to reflect current usage.

Subject sections include:

  • The Bible
  • Mythology and Folklore
  • Proverbs
  • Idioms
  • World Literature, Philosophy, and Religion
  • Literature in English
  • Conventions of Written English
  • Fine Arts
  • World History to 1550
  • World History Since 1550
  • American History to 1865
  • American History Since 1865

  • World Politics
  • American Politics
  • World Geography
  • American Geography
  • Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology
  • Business and Economics
  • Physical Science and Mathematics
  • Earth Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Medicine and Health
  • Technology

ISBN: 978-0-618226-47-4

Hardcover

SKU: DCL
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