Teaching Contemporary American Culture and Society

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Teaching Contemporary American Culture and Society

2015/16 - spring term

Course: BTAN113MA

Time and place: Wednesday 16.00-17.40, Room 55, Main Building

Instructor: Dr. Ágnes Tóth (agnestoth.dr@gmail.com) - Room 108/1

Office hours: Dr. Ágnes Tóth - Friday 13.45-14.30, Room 108/1

Course Description:

This course is designed to provide students with an up-to-date view on American culture, society, myths and values as they are reflected in everyday life. The course aims at examining the roots of contemporary American culture and the different responses to the changing cultural, political and social landscape as reflected in various texts and artefacts of (popular) culture.

Another goal of the course is to offer various methods, practical advice and materials for students (high school teachers) for the teaching of American culture and civilization in Hungarian high schools.
Topics to be discussed will include various aspects of American life, providing an opportunity for the analysis of American politics, society, ethnicity, regional and national identity and other topical issues. In order to meet the methodological goals of the course, resources and tools for the teaching of American civilization (textbooks, movies, internet resources, realia, etc.) will be presented and discussed, alongside possible activities aimed at teaching culture and developing different skills as well (how to set up a debate, presentations, extra-curricular activities, etc.). A significant amount of time will be devoted to the discussion of teaching methods, resources, and practical issues.
Evaluation: Class participation 30%; Project work 30 %; End-term: 40%;

The details of the assignments will be discussed in class.

A detailed reading list will be distributed in class.
Schedule of classes and topics

Week 1 (February 17) – Orientation;

Setting the stage: definition, concepts

Week 2 (February 24) – Regions and aspects of regionalism as reflected in contemporary culture
Week 3 (March 3) – Pillars of democracy: The American Constitution, government, political parties, election system
Week 4 (March 9) – (1) A culture of violence?: The right to bear arms vs. efforts to restrict it;

(2) Eye for an eye?: Death sentence or for the term of his/her natural life

Week 5 (March 16) – Icons, symbols, myths – Belief systems in the USA
Week 6 (March 23) – The system of education in the USA
Week 7 (March 30) – CONSULTATION WEEK
Week 8 (Apr 6) – The Hungarian slice of the American pie – famous Hungarians in America
Week 9 (April 13) – From John Smith to Luke Skywalker – Hollywood as a major exporter of American popular culture
Week 10 (April 20) – Music, sport, celebrities and fans
Week 11 (Apr 27) – Student project work/Micro-teaching I
Week 12 (May 4) Student project work/Micro-teaching II
Week 13 (May11) – End-term
Week 14 (May 18) Summing up and closing down
Handouts and some of the readings will be provided by the teacher, or will be available online.
Texts to be consulted (all available in the Institute library):

AN352 Course Packet: American Culture and Institutions

Advanced American Civilization Course Reader

Bigsby, Christopher, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture. Cambridge: CUP, 2006.

Fiedler, Eckhard, et al. America in Close-Up. Harlow: Longman, 2001.

Joyce, Davis D. and Tibor Glant. United States History: A Brief History for Hungarian Students. 7th rev. ed. (Debrecen: Debrecen University Press, 2010).

Kearny, E. et al. The American Way. An Introduction to American Culture. London: Prentice-Hall, 1984.

Luedtke, Luther S., ed. Making America: The Society and Culture of the United States. Washington, D.C.: USIA, 1995.

Mauk, David and John Oakland. American Civilization: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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