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History and Culture of the USA

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс по выбору
Когда читается:
2-й курс, 1, 2 модуль


Course Syllabus


The course “History and Culture of the U.S.A.” is taught to sophomores majoring in foreign languages and intercultural communication. The aim of the course is to establish the context of understanding the cultural, historic, economic, and political background of the U.S.A. as a country whose language is the target language of students’ professional scrutiny. Special attention is paid to a comparative analysis of the U.S. – Russia relations. The course features both lectures and seminars, which enables students to interiorize the “American component” of their intercultural communicative competence through involvement in discussions, presentations, and projects along with doing quizzes and writing essays.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course learning objectives are as follows: - familiarizing students with the U.S. traditions, customs, culture, politics and policies, economy, and history; - developing skills of social and cultural analysis of historic milestones of the U.S. emergence, growth, and modern status; - developing intercultural competence and forming a clear picture of the key types, forms, and issues of intercultural communication though the reflective analytical and synthetic perception of the native culture and the U.S. culture; - motivating students for further professional development in the field of American Studies.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • learn the course objectives, expectations, outcomes, reading list, grading system
  • be aware of distinctive features of the U.S. world, i.e. daily life, values, mentality, and national character
  • be familiar with American social and cultural context
  • be aware of the role of stereotypes and culture codes in intercultural communication
  • be able to interpret culture-specific language units denoting historic, cultural and social connotations
  • know key concepts of the U.S. history and culture
  • be able to analyze processes and trends in the modern U.S. social and cultural context
  • make operational use of authentic language means fostering mutual understanding within intercultural communication
  • obtain problem-solving skills applicable to intercultural communication
  • apply the knowledge and skills obtained in the course to solving tasks in foreign language teaching, translation and interpretation and intercultural communication
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Topic 1. Introduction to the course
    The section introduces students to the course objectives, expectations, outcomes, reading list, grading system.
  • Topic 2. Genesis of the American nation
    The topic focuses on an introduction to America in the Pre-Columbus era and investigates roots of the continent colonization.
  • Topic 3. American fight for independence
    The topic analyzes key stages of the 13 colonies’ fight for independence and emergence of the U.S.A.
  • Topic 4. American national identity
    The topic deals with America’s principal values and their impact on the emergence of American mentality.
  • Topic 5. American democracy
    The topic focuses on the key principles of the U.S. political system. Students get a deeper understanding of American democracy and its specific features, namely voting system.
  • Topic 6. Law in the USA
    The section covers the U.S. legislative system, i.e. role of the government in law making, and role of law in American life. An emphasis is placed on the right to keep and bear arms.
  • Topic 7. Black Lives Matter: the past and the present
    Students are made aware of the role of African Americans in the U.S. history, i.e. fight for the abolition of slavery, emancipation, and equal rights. Students also look at the modern context, especially in terms of (no) racial discrimination.
  • Topic 8. Multiculturalism in the USA
    Students are introduced to the concept of multiculturalism in the U.S. focusing on the Melting Pot and Salad Bowl paradigms and touching on the “Mexican issue” in the U.S.
  • Topic 9. Gender in the USA
    The topic spans the history of the Feminist and Civil Rights Movements.
  • Topic 11. American foreign policy in the Middle East
    The topic focuses on the U.S. foreign policy. Emphasis is placed on the U.S. involvement in military conflicts in the Middle East and response to the threat of international terrorism.
  • Topic 12. The USA and Russia: the past, the present, and the future
    Students are introduced to the history, current state and prospects of Russia – U.S. relations.
  • Topic 13. Modern life in the USA
    The section familiarizes students with America’s modern life, namely social security, healthcare, education, research, mass media, etc.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking class participation
    Class participation involves taking part in discussions, debates, round-table talks, case studies; independent preparation for seminars (information search; reading papers; watching videos; annotating and rendering the obtained materials); discussing presentations by classmates.
  • non-blocking quiz
    A 7-minute long quiz
  • non-blocking presentation
    Presentations are given at each seminar, except for the first and the last ones, 1 presentation per seminar. The time limit is 5 – 7 minutes. The maximum score is 10 points.
  • non-blocking project
    The final projects are presented at the penultimate and antepenultimate seminars. The overarching topic of the project is “Russia and the U.S.: what’s next?”
  • non-blocking cultural event
  • non-blocking final exam
    The final exam is given during the final exam session week of Module 2 and includes 10 questions based on the lectures and seminars.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.25 * class participation + 0.5 * final exam + 0.25 * quiz
  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.25 * class participation + 0.05 * cultural event + 0.25 * final exam + 0.1 * presentation + 0.1 * project + 0.25 * quiz


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • - A Few Lessons from American History: Reader for Students of English - Общество с ограниченной ответственностью "СТАТУТ" - 2014 - ISBN: 978-5-8354-1011-8 - Текст электронный // ЭБС Лань - URL: https://e.lanbook.com/book/61518

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Loewen, J. W. (2007). Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Vol. Touchstone trade pbk. ed). New York: The New Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=516592