Western Culture

Learning Materials for Students

Course Outline

Lecturer: Algirdas Makarevicius

Website: http://alslectures.webs.com/

Course description

This course is about Western culture and its relationship with and influence on the development of the English language. It focuses on origins of Western culture, present-day etiquette, thinking, cultural values and traditions.




Topics and Learning Resources




No classes



Registration Week





Introduction to Language and Culture

History and its relationship with culture, language, education and communication. Introduction of basic terms: culture, civilization, linguistics, language, speech and communication. Western culture versus other cultures. The etymology of Europe. The three-age system introduced by Christian Jurgensen Thomsen. Mesopotamia – the Cradle of Civilization.







Origins of Western Civilization

The foundational triad – Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, and Christianity. Ancient Greece - origins of Western culture: Greek philosophy, based on reason and enquiry; the distinguishing characteristics of Western philosophy, and culture. Roman Law - the greatest Roman contribution to Western Culture; republic, constitution, monarchy, democracy, aristocracy. The Augustan Age (Caesar Augustus Gaius Octavius, Cleopatra, and Antony). Christianity. Dark Ages. Middle Ages. The Renaissance. Enlightenment. The French Revolution. Spread of Western culture.






English as a Tool of Cross-Cultural Communication

The development of English. Five Events that Shaped the history of English. The modern world and the global English. The basic elements of language and the process of communication. Gender. Verbal and non-verbal communication. Paralanguage, kinesics, postures, proxemics, and symbols. Varieties of English and English-speaking countries.






World Englishes

Modern English and the development of Anglo-Saxon culture in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other countries. The differences between British and American English.






Language and Discrimination

Racist language. Ethnicity and race. Subcategories of individual racism, structural racism, and ideological racism. South African apartheid. Redlining. Reverse racism. Racial profiling. Pseudoscience - theories about biological differences among races. Racism in Australia, Canada, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Zimbabwe and other countries. Examples of specific types of alleged racism. Cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing and racial purity. Institutional racism or structural racial discrimination. Case studies. Some problems related to of language and gender. Xenophobia. Sexism and gender-neutral language. Neologisms. Case studies.





Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, as the sub-discipline of anthropology which studies contemporary societies and cultures. Subfields of anthropology: biological, forensic, cultural or social, paleoethnobotany, applied, medical, political, visual, linguistic, physical, etc. Cultural evolution.







The processes of culture change. Acculturation in America, Asia, Africa and Papua New Guinea. Diffusion and acculturation. Millenarian movements. Global change.




Mid-Term Exam



Assessment: 30%



May Day (May 1)



Public Holiday




Culture and Marriage

Marriage partner selection in various cultures. Taboos. Marianismo. Infanticide. Marriage rules in different societies. The price of marriage. Residence rules. Restrictions regarding sodomy and homosexuality in different cultures.






Culture and Color




Historical information and contemporary research on the meanings associated with basic colors. Color associations in political and social representations of various countries. Similarities than differences in the color associations of people cross-culturally. Meanings of colors in different cultures. Color as a means of social identity. Linguistic evidence on how cultures express color meaning. Color metaphors and their power. Psychological and emotional aspects of color meaning in different cultures. Color preferences and meanings. Symbolic meanings of colors. Color and global culture.







Culture Shock


Coping with culture shock. Symptoms of culture shock. Stages most people go through in adjusting to a new culture: fun, flight, fight and fit. Coping strategy for culture shock: survival techniques. Customs, cues, norms, stereotypes. Re-entry shock. Factors important to successful inter-cultural adjustments. American ethnocentrism. Cross-cultural miscommunication. Case studies.





Cultural Identity


Who is a native speaker? Bilingualism and biculturalism. Ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism as selfishness. Xenophobia. Pogrom as a form of xenophobia. Cultural stereotypes. Social and ethnic stereotypes. Common phrases based on stereotypes. Linguistic nationalism and cultural imperialism. Media imperialism and censorship. Case studies.





Norms and effects of etiquette. Traditions, manners and behavior. Social etiquette. Business etiquette. Table manners and etiquette. Etiquette and language. Case studies.






Office etiquette. Interview etiquette. Dining etiquette. Audience etiquette. Personal etiquette. Chinese etiquette and protocol versus Western. Greetings and introductions. Titles and forms of address. Personal questions and compliments. Social distance, touching and gestures. Annoying things. Gift giving. Case studies.





Public Holidays


Celebrations, traditions and customs in the United Kingdom, America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific Ocean.



Final Exam



Assessment: 50%


Learning Materials

(1) Website http://alslectures.webs.com/

(2) Handouts - provided by the teacher during the first week of classes

(3) Lecture notes - students take notes in class


Assessment (100)

(1) Participation and attendance: 5%

(2) Oral presentation: 15%

(3) Mid-term exam: 30%

(4) Final exam: 50%


Regulations and Requirements of the Course

Each student must fulfill the following basic requirements.

(1) Copy the handouts from the classroom computer during the first week of classes. Study the handouts regularly every week.

(2) Use regularly the learning tools and materials which are provided in the following website http://alslectures.webs.com/

(3) Take lecture notes and actively participate in discussions on various topics by asking questions and giving short one-minute presentations or comments.

(4) Prepare one oral presentation during the semester. Handouts, PowerPoint, overhead projector or other devices can be used but a student is not allowed to read from a paper or from a computer. The presentation should last approximately ten minutes and will be assessed out of 15 points (15%). An outline of the presentation must be handed in to the teacher in advance. The outline must be printed on one page (A4 size page) and must contain the student number, the name of the student written both in English and in Chinese (written on top of the A4 size paper), title of the topic, and the basic points of the presentation. The font size should be Arial 10 (the same size as the size of this text).

(5) Attend all classes regularly. If a student misses more than four classes without a clear reason s/he will not be allowed to continue the course without a special permission from the Dean.

(6) Attend all examinations. Cheating at examinations is not tolerated and students who are caught by invigilators during an examination will be automatically failed.

(7) The course outline is the main document and the topics which are written in the course outline must be discussed in class every week. The duty of each student is to study the handouts, according to the course outline, and prepare for class discussions. The course outline is given to each student during the first class together with all other handouts and it is also available in the website http://alslectures.webs.com/

(8) Any additional questions or suggestions related to the above can be answered by your teacher either during the class time, during the break time between classes. Each student who approaches the teacher by email must write his/her student number, name and the class number. Anonymous emails will not be replied.