miércoles, 10 de enero de 2018

Course Description

Taught by
Prof. Dr. Jesús Ángel González, gonzalezja@unican.es
Course language
Classes: Wed 12:30-13:30, Thu 10:30-12:30

The course will deal with the concepts of culture and European unity and diversity. Therefore, the different concepts of culture and the diverse dimensions of Europe (geographical, historical, religious, economic, cultural) will be analyzed and followed by an individual analysis of the culture and civilization of some specific European countries.

The course will also present key facts about the creation and development of the European Union. Some of the topics to be covered are: Origin of the EU, how the EU works, monetary union, European issues and priorities, perception of living conditions by European citizens and the EU in the world, current developments and future possibilities.

-Class attendance and participation 10%
-Oral presentation 30% Students will choose a European country and prepare an oral presentation about its culture and civilization.. The presentation should last between 15 and 20 minutes and some of the following fields could be covered: Background, history, geography, languages, sociological overview, education, religion, economy, politics, the Media, cultural conflicts, cultural products (Literature, Cinema, Art). Special emphasis should be placed on each student’s field of expertise (preferably his University Major).
- Reading and Writing Assignments: 30 %: Students are expected to read a number of articles, present them in class and hand in article reviews (Deadline: May 19). They are also expected to fill in the Europass CV and Language Passport (Deadline: May 5)-
- Final paper: “What is then a European?“ 30 % (Deadline: June 15)
Teaching methods
Participants will be encouraged to actively participate in class and share their experiences and ideas with others to explore new ways of thinking. The course will be conducted using a mixture of lectures; small group activities; practical exercises, facilitated discussions and oral presentations.
Teaching material

§  Core Texts:
Oxford Guide to British and American Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Barbour, P. (Ed.) The European Union Handbook. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. 1996
Bryson, Bill. Neither Here nor There. London: Black Swan, 1999
Bryson, Bill. Notes from a Small Island.  London: Black Swan, 1999.
Díez Medrano, J. Framing Europe. Princeton University Press. 2003.
Hartley, Emma. 50 Facts you Need to Know: Europe. Icon Books: 2006.
González López, Jesús A. An Introduction to North American Culture and Literature. Santander: TGD, 2006.
§  Additional material:
Articles from magazines, newspapers and the internet, video clips from films and television programs.

martes, 9 de enero de 2018

Reading and Writing Assignments (30%)

Students are expected to read the articles provided by the teacher, present some of them in class (as scheduled) and hand in 10 article reviews (8 from the list and 2 from the blog: 20 % of the final mark). 

 They are also expected to fill in the Europass CV and Language Passport (10 %). As you can see on the official website (on the right, in the "links" section):

Europass is a new way of helping people to:

  • make their skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in Europe (European Union, EFTA/EEA and candidate countries);
  • move anywhere in Europe.

Europass consists of five documents:

I am interested in the first two documents only, particularly in the Language Passport. It is quite self-explanatory.  Once you have filled it in, my advice is to save it as Adobe® PDF + Europass XML, which allows you to update it and get a pdf as many times as you want. The deadline to hand in a printed version of it will be May 3. The deadline for the article reviews is May 17.

Presentations (30 %)

Students will choose a European country and prepare an oral presentation about its culture and civilization. The presentation should last around 20 minutes and some of the following fields could be covered: Background, history (5 meaningful events only), geography, languages, sociological overview, education, religion, economy, politics, the Media, cultural conflicts, cultural products (Literature, Cinema, Art). Special emphasis should be placed on cultural conflicts and on each student’s field of expertise (preferably his University Major).You need to choose a country and a date as soon as possible and then you have to attend one of the Wednesday tutorials to let me know about your ideas about the presentation.

After delivering your presentation in class, you have to upload it on the internet and send a link as a comment to this post (as in the models).

This is a guide to different slide-sharing services:http://www.masternewmedia.org/where-to-upload-and-share-powerpoint-presentations-guide/

And this is a video about issu: http://issuu.com/#whatIsIssuu

Final paper (30 %)

Deadline for the final paper: June 15th.

The final paper should be 5-10 pages long (2,000-4,000 words) and should involve some research as well as personal opinions. Don't forget to quote your sources and include a bibliography.You will find useful articles and book extracts in the set of photocopies as well as in the blog.

The topic of the final paper is "What is then a European?"in response to J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur's definition of Americans: “What is then the American, this new man? He is either a European or the descendant of a European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country… He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world … The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions.
(J. HECTOR ST. JOHN DE CRÈVECOEUR Letters from an American Farmer, 1782)

American history and character have been fundamentally shaped by three important myths:
· The American Dream: the belief that their country offers the best opportunities for a good and successful life. A dream of freedom and opportunities. Anybody can get rich, anybody can become president. But there are some American nightmares, as many writers and film directors keep pointing out ...
· The Melting Pot: a phrase used to describe the USA as a country in which people from many different races and cultures are ‘melted’ together to form the American people.
· The Manifest Destiny, as we have already mentioned, is a phrase coined in the late 19th century to justify the right of the US to own and occupy land across the continent to the Pacific Ocean, buying or stealing land from Europeans, Indians, Mexicans (California, Texas,...) or Spaniards (the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba). This idea is linked to the concept of the frontier (the border between settlements and wilderness), which has had a tremendous influence in the American psyche as shown in American popular culture (westerns).
These three myths are still alive in many ways and their effects can be seen in aspects such as the way the economy is handled (an extension of the concepts inherent to the American Dream), the problems with immigration and the ‘English Only’ movement (the Melting Pot), North-American foreign policy in Latin America (the Manifest Destiny), individualism, love of guns, the permanent conflict between nature and civilization or even the space race (the frontier).

Adapting these ideas to the European context, you can try to answer the following questions:
- What is then a European? is there such a thing as a European identity? How is it created? (You may think of the European Union and the monetary union, but also of the Council of Europe and other identity-forming elements like the Erasmus program, the Schengen agreement, the Cultural Capital of Europe, or even UEFA and the Eurovision song contest)
- What are the different European dimensions or ways to understand Europe? Think about Geography, History, Languages, Religion, Politics, Foreign Policy, Economy, Human Rights, etc.
- Is there a European Dream? What is it made of? Is it similar to the American Dream? Is there a social dimension vs. the more individualistic American dream?
- Is there a European Melting Pot? Should there be one? Is European diversity an asset or a curse? How should Europe deal with immigration (both from inside Europe and from outside Europe)?
- Is there a European Manifest Destiny? Was there one (in the 19th century colonialization period, for example)? How should Europe expand its influence outside its borders (think, for example, of democracy, human rights, prosperity, protection of the environment, the destruction of borders as a recipe for peace, the so-called social market...)?

jueves, 23 de febrero de 2017



March 1
Isabel Pether
March 1
Sierra Fisher
March 1
Na Lin
March 1
Joe Walters
March 8
Paula Campesino
March 8
Christian Dosdos
March 8
Miriam Bellina
March 8
Federico Palmieri
March 15
Isabel Kirk
March 15
Lianne Brito
March 15
Ragni Olsson
March 15
Kemi Odusanija
March 22
Malgorzata Witek
March 22
Annalisa Gardner



March 29
Paula Campesino (Portugal)
March 29
Miriam Bellina (Bosnia)
April 5
Sierra Fisher (Sweden)
April 5
Isabel Pether (Belgium)
April 26
Federico Palmieri (Germany)
April 26
Na Lin (Spain)
May 3
Annalisa Gardner (Italy)
May 3
Christian Dosdos (Greece)
May 10
Malgorzata Witek (Cyprus)
May 10
Joe Walters (Ireland)
May 17
Isabel Kirk (Austria)
May 17
Liainne Brito (Hungary)
May 24
Kemi Odusanija (Switzerland)
May 24
Ragni Olsson (Finland)

martes, 21 de febrero de 2017

miércoles, 4 de mayo de 2016

Eurovision Song Contest

"As the most anticipated event of the 2016 calendar draws ever nearer, tensions are running high: people up and down the country are considering and re-considering their position, reflecting on our national identity, the intricacies of an aged voting system, our relationship with our European neighbours, and the result’s knock-on effect on the European referendum. Sorry – you thought I meant the European referendum? No, I’m talking about the 61st Eurovision Song Contest."


Inequality in the USA

lunes, 18 de abril de 2016

European Social Progress Index

MEASURING NATIONAL PROGRESS – To truly advance social progress, we must learn to measure it, comprehensively and rigorously. The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing. 



Worlds's data table



TED Talk

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016


April 6
March 2
April 7
March 2
April 13
March 2
April 13 (2)
March 2
April 14
March 9
April 20
March 9
April 27
March 9
April 28
March 16
May 4

The Netherlands
March 16
May 4 (2)

March 2
May 5
March 16
May 11
March 16
May 12
March 23
May 18
March 23
May 19
March 23