Н. А. Новик american culture course Pack Американская культура Курс лекций


Large country with many differences



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Large country with many differences: The U.S. is a spacious country of varying terrains and climates. Roughly it can be divided into 4 main cultural regionsthe Northeast, the South, the Midwest, the West, and Southwest often treated together.

Interesting to know: The Northeast consists of New England: Connecticut | Maine | Massachusetts | New Hampshire | Rhode Island | Vermont; Mid-Atlantic :Delaware | Maryland | New Jersey | New York | Pennsylvania | Washington D.C.

The South: Alabama | Arkansas | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | Louisiana | Mississippi | North Carolina | South Carolina | Tennessee | Virginia | West Virginia; the Midwest Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Nebraska | North Dakota | Ohio | South Dakota | Wisconsin; The Southwest: Arizona | New Mexico | Oklahoma | Texas; The West: Alaska | Colorado | California | Hawaii | Idaho | Montana | Nevada | Oregon | Utah | Washington | Wyoming

Each of these regions maintains a certain degree of cultural identity. People within a region generally share common values, economic concerns, and a certain relationship to the land, and they are usually identified with the history and traditions of their region.

But today, we are witnessing the gradual convergence of these regional identities as a result of globalization. The mobility of people and the spread of pop culture through television and other mass media have greatly advanced this convergence.

However, some regional differences are noticeable. E.g., the food Americans eat. Most of it is standard wherever you go. A person can buy packages of frozen peas bearing the same label in Idaho, Missouri, and Virginia. Cereals, candy bars, and many other items also come in identical packages from Alaska to Florida. Generally, the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables does not vary much from one state to the next. On the other hand, it would be unusual to be served hush puppies (a kind of fried dough [ou]) or grits (boiled and ground corn prepared in a variety of ways) in Massachusetts or Illinois, but normal to get them in Georgia.



American speech also often differs according to what part of the country you are in. Southerners tend to speak slowly, in what is referred to as a “Southern drawl.” Midwesterners use “flat” [ae] (as in bad or cat), and the New York City features a number of Yiddish words (schlep, nosh, nebbish) contributed by the city’s large Jewish population.

Among differences there are also regional attitudes and outlooks, e.g., the attention paid to foreign events in newspapers. In the East, where people look out across the Atlantic Ocean, papers tend to show greatest concern with what is happening in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Western Asia. On the West Coast, however, news editors give more attention to events in East Asia and Australia. To understand regional differences, let’s take a closer look at each cultural region.



The Northeast: The Northeast, comprising the New England and Mid-Atlantic states, has traditionally been at the cradle of the nation’s economic and social progress. The Northeast is more urban, more industrial, and more culturally sophisticated. A sense of cultural superiority sets Northeasterners apart from others.

During the 19th – 20th centuries and well into this century, the Northeast produced most of the country’s writers, artists, and scholars. New England’s colleges and universities are known all over the country for their high academic standards. Harvard is widely considered the best business school in the U.S. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) surpasses all others in economics and the practical sciences.



New England does not possess rich farmland or a mild climate. Yet it played a dominant role in the U.S. development. Between the 17th - 19th centuries, New England was the country’s cultural and economic center. New Englanders were engaged in shipbuilding, fishing, and trade, in manufacturing such goods as clothing, rifles, and clocks. Most of the money to run these businesses came from Boston, which was the financial heart of the nation. New England also supported a vibrant cultural life. New Englanders often describe themselves as thrifty, reserved, and dedicated to hard work, qualities they inherited from their Puritan forefathers.

The economic and cultural dominance of New England gradually reduced after WWII. In the 20th century, most of New England’s traditional industries were relocated to the South and West or foreign countries where goods could be made much cheaper. Many factories and mills were closed. As a result of this outsourcing, in many factory towns skilled workers were left without jobs. However, now some parts of New England are experiencing economic recovery thanks to the development of microelectronics and computer industries. New high-tech industries are boosting foreign investment and employment.

If New England provided the brains and dollars for 19th-century American expansion, the Middle Atlantic states provided the muscle. The region’s largest states, New York and Pennsylvania, became centers of heavy industry (iron, glass, and steel). Like New England, the Middle Atlantic region has much of its heavy industry relocated elsewhere. Other industries, such as drug manufacturing and communications, have taken up the slack.

The South: The South is perhaps the most distinctive and colorful American region. Here the regional identity is most pronounced. The pecu­liarities of Southern history played an important role in shaping the region’s character. The South was originally settled by English Protestants who came for profitable farming opportunities. Some farmers, capitalizing on tobacco and cotton crops, became very prosperous. They established large plantations with African slaves working there. And though the system of slavery was regarded in the Northeast as unjust, Southern slave owners defended it as an economic necessity which led to the division of the nation and the Civil War of 1861-65 that was the most bloody war in American history. The war devastated the South socially and economically and at the same time gave the South its unmistakable identity. The Civil War experience helps explain why Southerners have developed respect for the past and a resistance to changes, and why the South is different from the rest of the country.

The South differs from other regions in a number of ways. Southerners are more conservative, more religious, and more violent than the rest of the country. Because fewer immigrants were attracted to the less industrialized Southern states, Southerners are the most “native” of any region. Southerners tend to be more respectful of social rank and have strong ties to hometown and family. Even today, Southerners tend to have less schooling and higher illiteracy rates than people from other regions, and pockets of poverty are scattered throughout the Southern states.

Americans of other regions are quick to recognize a Southerner by his/her dialect. Southern speech tends to be much slower and more musical. The Southern dialect characteristically uses more diphthongs: a one-syllable word such as yes is spoken in the South as two syllables, ya-es. In addition, Southerners say “you all” instead of “you” as the second person plural.



The South is also known for its music. In the time of slavery, black Americans created a new folk music, the Negro spiritual. Later forms of black music which began in the South are blues and jazz. Most American country music has a Southern background.

The South has been one of the most outstanding literary regions in the 20th century. Novelists such as William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Thomas Wolfe, Katherine Anne Porter, Tennessee Williams, and Flannery O'Connor addressed themes of the Southern experience such as nostalgia for the rural Southern past.

Today, the South is a manufacturing region, and high-rise buildings crowd the skylines of such cities as Atlanta and Little Rock, Arkansas. Owing to its mild weather, Florida has become a Mecca for retirees from other U.S. regions and from Canada. It is a place for newly-weds and nearly deads.



The West: Americans have long regarded the West as the last frontier.

The West is a region of scenic beauty on a grand scale. Mountain ranges are the sources of startling contrasts. To the west of the peaks, winds from the Pacific Ocean carry enough moisture to keep the land well-watered. To the east, the land is very dry.

The West is marked by cultural diversity and competing interests. Beginning with the 1980’s, large numbers of Asians settled in California, mainly around Los Angeles. Los Angeles — and Southern California as a whole — has large Mexican-American population.

Mormon-settled Utah has little in common with Mexican-influenced California. Montana ranchers have different needs and different outlooks from the people of Washington or California. Alaska is a vast land of few, but hardy, people and great stretches of wilderness protected in national parks and wildlife refuges. Hawaii is the only state in which Asian Americans outnumber residents of European stock.

California has some of the richest farmland in the country, and, along with Oregon and Washington in the rainy Northwest, does not share the rest of the West’s concern over the scarcity of water. California is densely populated and highly industrial. By combining the nation’s highest concentration of high-tech industries with the greatest percentage of service industries, California’s progressive economy is a trend-setter for the rest of the U.S.

Western cities are known for their tolerance. Perhaps because so many Westerners have moved there from other regions to make a new start; as a rule, interpersonal relations are marked by a live-and-let-live attitude.

The Western economy is varied. Western life is dominated by resources. Although water is scarce in the Mountain West, the region is rich in uranium, coal, crude oil, oil shale (сланцы), and other mineral deposits.

The population of the West rapidly increases, but supplies of water are limited, as a result the West is already experiencing physical limits to growth.

While generalizations about the West are difficult to make, the region shares concerns that differ the region from the rest of the country. Westerners are united in their long-standing hostility toward Washington (D.C.) and Eastern federal bureaucrats. Westerners feel government policies fail to address the vital concerns unique to their region. Particularly distressing to Westerners is their lack of control over Western land and resources owned and administered by the federal government. Western states’ troubles with water scarcity and government-owned land seem to matter little to the rest of the country. Westerners like to think of themselves as independent, self-sufficient, and close to the land, but they feel they cannot control their own destiny while Washington controls their land.



The Midwest: While the South and West feel like strangers, the Midwest, by contrast, has long been regarded as typically American. The fertile farmland and abundant resources have allowed agriculture and industry to thrive and to strengthen the Midwesterners’ conviction that people can make something of themselves if they seize opportunities. Class divisions are felt less strongly here than in other regions; the middle class rules.

Midwesterners are seen as commercially-minded, self-sufficient, unsophisticated, and pragmatic.

Midwesterners are also praised as being open, friendly, and straightforward. Their politics tend to be cautious, but the caution is sometimes mixed with protest. The Midwest gave birth to the Republican Party which was formed in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery into new states. The region also gave birth to the Progressive Movement, aimed at making the local and federal governments less corrupt and more receptive to the will of the people.

Because of their geographic location, many Midwesterners have been strong adherents of isolationism, the belief that Americans should not concern themselves with foreign wars and problems. The Midwest’s position in the middle of the continent, far removed from the east and west coasts, has encouraged Midwesterners to direct their concerns to their own domestic affairs, avoiding matters of wider interest.



The Midwest is a cultural crossroads. Starting in the early 1800’s easterners moved there in search of better farmland, Germans and Dutch - to eastern Missouri, Swedes and Norwegians - to Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Interesting to know: The Plain People create a very colorful cultural group and retain many of their traditions, including their language, which is a blending of several German dialects. The family is still the main social and economic unit, with the church next in importance. Traditional groups, such as the Amish and Mennonites, dress in plain black or brown homespun clothing. These groups have resisted such modern conveniences as automobiles, televisions, and telephones. They are known for their hard work, thrift, and orderliness — qualities reflected in their well-tended farms.
The Midwest is known as a region of small towns and huge tracts of farmland where more than half the nation’s wheat and oats are raised. It is the nation’s “breadbasket.” The region’s fertile soil made it possible for farmers to produce abundant harvests of cereal crops such as wheat, oats, and corn.

Most of the Midwest is flat. The Mississippi River has acted as a regional lifeline, moving settlers to new homes and foodstuffs to market. The river inspired two classic American books, both written by a native Missourian, Samuel Clemens, who took the pseudonym Mark Twain “Life on the Mississippi and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Dominating the region’s commerce and industry is Chicago, the nation’s third largest city. This major Great Lakes port is a connecting point for rail lines and air traffic to other parts of the U.S. and the world.

The Southwest: The Southwest is often described separately from the Midwest, the West and the South as it differs from them in weather (drier), population (less dense), and ethnicity (strong Spanish-American and Native-American components).

Outside the cities, the region is a land of open spaces, much of which is desert. The magnificent Grand Canyon is located in this region, as is Monument Valley.

Parts of the Southwest once belonged to Mexico. The U.S. obtained this land following the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. Its Mexican heritage continues to exert a strong influence on the region, which is a convenient place to settle for immigrants (legal or illegal) from farther south. A lot of U.S. retirees prefer to live in Arizona. T

The four Southwestern states are the homes of numerous Indian reservations.

Population growth in the hot, arid Southwest has depended on two human artifacts: the dam and the air conditioner. Dams on the Colorado and other rivers and aqueducts such as those of the Central Arizona Project have brought water to once-small towns such as Las Vegas, Nevada, Phoenix, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, allowing them to become metropolises. Las Vegas is known as one of the world’s centers for gambling, while Santa Fe, New Mexico, is famous as a center for the arts, especially painting, sculpture, and opera. Houston is a center of space research and modern technologies.

Americanization: As it was said at the beginning, the distinctiveness of the Northeast, the South, the West, and the Midwest is disappearing. The regions are becoming ever more alike due to the homogenizing influence of mass media and regional convergence towards national socioeconomic norms. Interstate high-ways and communication lines and television are among the basic contributors to this regional convergence. Americans’ mobility has also played an important part in leveling off regional differences. Americans have always been on the move in pursuit of opportunity. Steady movements from farm to city, east to west, and south to north brought about an intermixing of cultures. This process of Americanization has been accelerated by new migration trends.

Between the 1950’s and 70’s poorer, less populous areas in the South and West experienced tremendous growth as people and businesses moved out of the historically dominant Northeast and Midwest in search of new opportunities in warmer climates. The new migration brought economic prosperity to the warm “Sunbelt” while economic stagnation occurred in the Frostbelt or Rustbelt.”



The Sunbelt: The attractions of the Sunbelt were numerous. Many older couples moved to the South in order to enjoy retirement in a warmer environment. Others moved to escape problems of urban crime, overcrowding, high taxes, and expensive housing. Most people moved for better employment oppor­tunities. Many corporations relocated to the Sunbelt because of the more favorable business conditions: lower wage scales, weak labor unions, and local governments offered a wide variety of incentives, including tax reliefs to attract new industries. During the past few decades the population of the South and Southwest has been growing rapidly while that of the Midwest or Northeast has grown slowly or not at all.

The increase in population moving to the Sunbelt brought an increase in power. The political and social status of the South and Southwest grew. At the end of the 20th century the South and Southwest gained more seats in the House of Representatives at the expense of the North and Midwest.

A clear rise in per capita income in the South and Southwest is an indication that socioeconomic gaps between regions are narrowing. The cultural dominance of the North­east and Midwest is diminishing as such as Atlanta, Santa Fe, and Los Angeles, are gaining reputations as important cultural centers. The great universities of the Northeast are rivaled by Stanford in California and the Universities of Texas and North Carolina.

The shift in economic strength and status to the Sunbelt does not mean that the Northeast and Midwest are drained of power and promise. Adapting to the needs of the time, many communities of the Northeast are redirecting their economies to accommodate new service-related and high-tech industries. So now we should speak not about the decline of the Frostbelt, but rather about a steady converging of the regions' economic status as the formerly lagging Sunbelt states catch up.



The Frontier Spirit: One final American region deserves mentioning here. You will not find it on the map. It is in the hearts and minds of Americans. It is not a fixed place but a moving zone, as well as a state of mind. Traditionally, it was thought to be the border between settlements and wilderness known as the frontier. But in real life terms, it means a challenge, something that is difficult to attain.

Numerous present-day American values and attitudes can be traced to the frontier past: self-reliance, resourcefulness, comradeship, a strong sense of equality.



SUMMARY

  1. The United States of America is a federal republic on the continent of North America. It has an area of 9,826,630 sq km and is the third largest country in the world after Russia and Canada.

  2. The estimated U.S. population as of July 2013 was over 316,590,000 people. So, in size of population it is also the third in the world behind China and India.

  3. The U.S.A. consists of 50 states and is divided into three distinct sections: the continental United States, Alaska, which is physically connected only to Canada, and the archipelago of Hawaii in the central Pacific Ocean. 48 states are contiguous and form the continental United States. Their names are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

  4. Washington, D.C. is the capital city and administrative district of the U.S.A.

  5. The largest cities of the United States are New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

  6. Today, U.S. regional identities are not as clear as they once were, its regions converge gradually. Regional differences also make themselves felt in less tangible ways, such as attitudes and outlooks.

  7. Each of the country’s four main regions — the Northeast, the South, the West, and the Midwest and Southwest treated together — maintains a degree of cultural identity. People within a region generally share common values, economic concerns, and a certain relationship to the land, and they usually identify to some extent with the history and traditions of their region.

  8. The Northeast, comprising New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, has traditionally been at the helm of the nation’s economic and social progress.

  9. The South is perhaps the most distinctive and colorful American region. Here regional identity has been most pronounced.

  10. The West is a region of scenic beauty on a grand scale. It is marked by cultural diversity and competing interests. Westerners are united in their long-standing hostility toward Washington and Eastern federal bureaucrats.

  11. The Midwest has long been regarded as typically American. The fertile farmland and abundant resources have allowed agriculture and industry to thrive and strengthen the Midwesterners’ conviction that people can make something of themselves if they seize opportunities.

  12. The Southwest differs from the adjoining Midwest in weather (drier), population (less dense), and ethnicity (strong Spanish-American and Native-American components).

  13. The Northeast, the South, the West, and the Midwest are becoming more alike due to the homogenizing influence of mass media and regional convergence towards national socioeconomic norms.

  14. Nowadays, the Sunbelt is opposed to the Frostbelt.

  15. The frontier is in the hearts and minds of Americans. It is not a fixed place but a moving zone, as well as a state of mind: the border between settlements and wilderness.


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