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   Course Title    Culture of the Western Countries
Lecturer    Alla Bairamova
Institution    Western University Baku
Country    Azerbaijan

The aim of the course is to acquaint the students with the variety of Western countries` cultures and to explain how cultural pluralities and differences constitute the phenomenon of Western culture and to make its role clear in World Civilization. Besides European countries, the culture of the USA is also briefly observed as belonging to the Western tradition. The course is divided into 2 unequal parts. The 1st, shorter, consisting of 6 lectures and 6 seminars, surveys the origin and development of Western culture from Antiquity to the present time in its historical consequence and, thus, describes it as a pluralistic cultural unit. The diachronic method, used in the 1st part, will be supplemented by the synchronic and the comparative-historical methods in the 2nd, longer, part, consisting of 14 lectures and 10 seminars. It is divided into some subsections following the division of European countries to some groups according the cultural regions. Thus, the cultural area approach has been undertaken here.

This part is focused on the cultural specificity and peculiarities of certain European countries and the USA. Stress will be laid on the point that religion, literature, art, rites, traditions, mentality, moral teachings, way of life, values, etc., are numerous prisms through which one country’s culture reveals itself. The correlation between them will be shown.

Using the most characteristic method "of precedent texts", portrayal features of national cultures will be presented.

Both parts are concluded with seminars following up on all the topics proclaimed in the title of the part.

It is expected that students, studying the course, will become more aware of the cultural situation of the past and present in the West and will be able to orient themselves within the cultural multiplicity of Western countries (including Eastern Europe), understanding their historical and social background, cultural interrelations and specificity. They will be able to find true directions in evaluating cultural achievements of the Western countries and get the tools for further independent research in this sphere.

This 72-hours course of 20 lectures and 16 seminars is intended to fill 18 weeks and is oriented to Regional Studies, Cultural Studies, Philology students and also students of other specialities and different years of education.

PART I. Concise History of Western Cultural Tradition

This part consists of 6 lectures and 6 seminars surveying the cultural history of the West and explains the specificity of Western Culture phenomenon.

The 1st week

Lecture 1. Foundations of the Western Cultural Tradition: The Greeks

Points to be covered:

General characteristics of Hellenic civilization. From myth to reason.

Philosophy in the Hellenistic age. The Pre- Socratic. The Sophists. The Socratic Revolution. Plato. Aristotle. Greek achievement: reason, freedom, humanism. Ethical teachings. Theatre. Tragedy and comedy. Music. Architecture. Sanctuaries. The Temple. Sculpture.

The stages of Hellenistic world. Drama and literature. Philosophy and religion. Cynicism. Scepticism. Epicureanism. Stoicism. Fate and the mystery cults.

Architecture. The Corinthian temple. The Altar. Sculpture.

Seminar 1. Greek Culture

The 2nd week

Lecture 2. The Western Cultural Tradition. The Romans.

Points to be covered:

General characteristics of Roman civilization. The style of Pre-Christian Rome: from Greek imitation to Roman grandeur. Roman religion. Language, literature, drama. Philosophy. Law. The visual arts: architecture, sculpture, painting and mosaics. Music.

Judaism. The Bible. Christianity. New Testament. Christians in the Roman Empire. The Christian World-View. Early Christian literature and art. The Triumph of Christianity. Christian Rome and the end of the Western Empire. The transition from classical humanism to Christian civilization.

Seminar 2. Roman Culture

The 3rd week

Lecture 3. The Middle Ages and the Rise of Modernity.

Points to be covered:

The early Middle Ages and the Waning of classical culture. The High Middle Ages: an intellectual flowering. The medieval world-view. Philosophy. Art and architecture. Carolingian, Romanesque, and Gothic styles. Science. The Middle Ages and the modern world: continuity and discontinuity. The Renaissance. The spirit and style of the early Renaissance. Humanism, Scholarship and schooling. Thought and Philosophy. Artistic ideals and philosophy. The Reformation. Shaping of the modern mentality. The scientific revolution: A new cosmology and methodology. Shaping of the modern scientific outlook. Prophets of modern science. The meaning of scientific revolution. Literature. Art. Architecture. Mannerism. Music. Baroque.

Seminar 3. European Culture of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Baroque.

The 4th week

Lecture 4. Toward the Modern State.

Points to be covered:

Breaking with the medieval outlook and sapping the Modern outlook. Revolution in political thought. The Enlightenment outlook: reason and science. Opposition to dogma, fanaticism, and persecution. Social through: psychology, education, toleration, freedom of press, humanitarianism, progress. French revolution. The impact of the Romantic movement. Europe 1815-1848 – Liberal and nationalist revolutions. Civil war in the 49. Liberalism: The value of the individual. The sources of liberalism. Individual liberty. Liberalism and democracy. Early socialism. Rise of Modern nationalism. The spread of industrialism.

Seminar 4. The Enlightenment and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century.

The 5th week

Lecture 5. Western Culture in the Nineteenth and the 1st Half of the 20th Centuries.

Points to be covered:

Religion and the challenge of science. Cultural trends: from romanticism to realism. Literature. Art. Architecture. Photography. Music.

Europe’s rise to world leadership. The development of socialism. Marxism. The second industrial revolution and the making of modern life. Domestic policies in the heavily industrialized west. Domestic policies in Central and Eastern Europe.

The rise of extreme nationalism. Racial theories. Anti-Semitism. The outbreak of World War. Early modernism. The modernist revolution in arts. Impressionism. Post-impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism and Expressionism. New directions in sculpture and architecture. Music: from impressionism to jazz.

The great depression of the 1930s. The rise of to totalitarism. Cult of the leader. Ideology. Russian communism. European fascism. World War II: origins and outcome. The failure of Western culture.

The zenith of Modernism. Experimentation in literature and art. Abstraction. Primitivism. Music: atonality, Neoclassicism, American idiom. Trends in philosophy: pragmatism, logical positivism, phenomenology, existentialism.

Seminar 5. Western Culture in the Nineteenth and the 1st Half of the Twentieth Centuries.

The 6th week

Lecture 6. Western Culture in the Contemporary Age.

Points to be covered:

From a Western to a world civilization. Postwar recovery of a new world order. From Modernism to Postmodernism. Philosophical, political and social thought.

Science and technology.

Literature and art of Late Modernism. Literature and art of Post-Modernism. Mass culture.

Seminar 6. Modern Western Culture.

The 7th week

Seminar 7. History of Western Cultural Tradition.


This part is consist of 6 subsections, unequal in size. Five of them are devoted to countries of different 5 regions of Europe:

  • British isles (5 lectures & 2 seminars)

  • Western and Northern Europe (2 lectures & 1 seminar)

  • Western Mediterranean region (3 lectures & 2 seminars)

  • Western Central Europe (1 lecture & 1 seminar)

  • Eastern Central Europe (1 lecture & 1 seminar)

  • Eastern Europe (1 lecture & 1 seminar)

The 7th subsection is devoted to culture of the USA (1 lecture & 1 seminar).

The biggest number of lectures devoted to the British Isles is explained not only by the great contribution of this European region to the Western and World culture but also by the location of this topic in the beginning of this part. Some points covered here, common also for other regions, and needed the explanation, take less place when they are repeated in further lectures, devoted to other countries.

The 8th week

Subsection: British Isles.

Lecture 7. Survey of Religious History in Britain

Points to be covered:

British history, culture and mentality through the prism of religious history in Britain. Druidism. Celtic mythology. Anglo-Saxons and their religion. The spread of Christianity. The monasteries as the centres of learning and education. Missionary work of British monks in Continental Europe. Lollard movement as the morning star of Reformation.

The English Reformation. Church reforms during Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. A moderately Protestant direction.

The establishment of the Church of Scotland. Presbyterianism. Catholicism and Protestantism in Ireland.

Puritanism. Baptism. Quakers. The Toleration Act of 1689-the formal recognition of religious pluralism. Dissent. Methodism. Congregationalism. Unitarianism.

A religious revolution in Wales.

Scientific impact on religion.

Religion today. Structure of the Church of England.

The rise of Pentecostalism and charismatic movement. Roman Catholic Church. The Salvation Army. Christian and non-Christian communities in nowadays Britain.

Relations with the State. Religious education. Co-operation between faith. Inter-Faith network for the United Kingdom.

Seminar 8. Religious history in Britain

The 9th week

Lecture 8. British Architecture and Art

Points to be covered:

Christianity and culture.

The building churches and castles. Norman, or Romanesque, style in architecture. The Gothic style. Early English Gothic. French styles. The final phase of Gothic (Perpendicular). Castles. Stained glass. Sculpture. Paintings.

Church music. Secular music. Travelling minstrels.

Folk lore, Nursery rhymes.

Baroque style. Classical Style. Georgian style. Architects. W. Kent. "Capability" Brown. The Romantic period. Constable. Turner. Cotman. Norwich School. Raeburn. Lawrence. The Regency period (the early 19th c.). Pre-Raphaelists Nash. The Aesthetic movement. Beardsley.

Art Nouveau. C. R. Mackintosh.

Cinema. C. Chaplin. Art Deco.

Museums. Sites. Places of interest.

Lecture 9. British Literature (short survey)

Points to be covered:

Medieval literature. Beowulf. Folk-lore. Arthurian romances.

W. Langlend. G. Chaucer. Ballads. The Renaissance. T. More. The Elizabethan era. E. Spencer. The development of drama. C. Marlowe.

W. Shakespeare. Puritan revolution and the enlightenment. J. Milton. Classicism. Alexander Pope. Sentimentalism. S. Richardson.

Satire. J. Swift.

The moulding of novel genre. D. Defoe. H. Fielding.

Poetry. R. Burns.

Women writers. Jane Austen.

Romanticism. The Lake school poets.

G. G. Byron. P. B. Shelly. W. Scott.

The Victorian literature. Critical realism. C. Dickens. W. M. Thackeray. Sisters Brontè.

Victorian poetry. Alfred, Lord Tennusson. R. Browning. Pre-Raphaelits.

Neoromanticism. R. L. Stensan. O. Wilde. R. Kipling.

XXth-century. Realism and modernism.

J. Golsworthy. J. Joyce. V. Wulf. G. B. Show. G. B. Priestly. E. Waugh. G. Greene. A. Christie.

Angry Young Men.

A. Sillitoe. S. Hill. I. Murdach. D. Lessing.

The 10th week

Lecture 10. Moral Teachings and Mentality in Britain

Points to be covered:

Morals and religion.

Ethical teaching of Sir T. More. Ethical teaching of Sir F. Bacon. Ethical teaching of T. Hobbs. Ethical teaching of A. Smith. Ethical teaching of lord Shaftsbury. The origin of moral feeling according the explanation of C. Darwin.

Moral in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Morals in the period of the Bourgeois Revolution and Restoration Puritanism

Moral in the Enlightenment, Victorian era, in the 20th c.

Lecture 11. Sports, Games and Entertainment in the Past and Nowadays. Rites, Leisure, Habits and Holydays. Britain round the calendar.

Points to be covered:

The annual "Feast of Fools". Hunting. Sport of falconry. Hawking. Gambling with dice. Playing cards (since the 14th cent.) Board games (e.g. ludo or checkers, chess). The Royal Ascot race meeting. Horse racing. Shooting. Cock-fighting. Rugby. The Oxford-Cambridge boat Race. Bumping Races. The Cup Final. The Grand National. The Derby. The Henley Regatta. The London to Brighton Car. Rally.

Engagements. Getting engaged. The forms of marriage. Division of responsibilities during wedding. Births and christenings. Twenty-first birthdays. Funerals. Everyday leisure pursuits. Sports. Football. Horse racing. Greyhound races. Bowels. Playing "Bingo" ("Lotto"). Dancing. Pubs. The game of darts and Clubs. Gardening. Keeping pet animals. Weekends. Sunday in England. Caravanning. Camping holidays. The Englishman’s love of the countryside. The English abroad.

Festivals of music and drama.

Burns Night. The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations. The Edinburgh Festival.

Traditional ceremonies in London.

Changing the guard. Mounting the Guard. The ceremony of the keys. Trooping the colour. The sovereign’s entry into the city of London. Swan-upping. Electing London’s Lord Mayor.

The Lord Mayor’s Show.

Britain as a "melting pot". British history, culture and mentality though the prism rites and holidays;

Public holidays and celebrations. New year in England. Hogmanay Celebrations.

First-Footing. The Night of Hogmanay. Tar-Barrel Burning.

St. Valentine’s day – February 14.

Pancake day. Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races. Mother’s day. Easter April Fool’s day. Whitsun. Late summer bank holiday. Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire night) – November 5. Remembrance day (Poppy Day). Christmas celebrations. Boxing Day. The spread of British traditions all over the world.

Seminar 9. Culture of British Isles

The 11th week

Subsection: Western and Northern Europe.

Lecture 12. France: Literature, Moral Teachings and Music.

Points to be covered:

Peculiarities of French culture.

Historical background. Absolutism and culture. Architecture. Sites.

Fine arts. Rococo. F. Boucher, Watteau, Fragonard. Classicism. Chardin, J. A. D. Ingres. Romanticism. E. Delacroux, Realism. G. Courbet. Impressionism. Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Renoir. Post-impressionism. Gogien, Van Gogh, Rodin.

Dadaism. M. Duchamp

Cubism. Picasso. G. Braque. Fanvism.

Arthurian Romances. Troubadours and trouvers. F. Rablais. M. Montaigne. R. Descartes The Enlighteners. Voltaire. Romanticism and critic realism. V. Hugo. H. Balzac. A. Dumas. Naturalism. E. Zola. G. De Maupassant. Existentialism. A. Camus.

M. Proust.

Music. Ballet and Opera. J. B. Lully. J. F. Rameau. J. J. Rousseau.

Y. Berlioz. J. Meyerbeer. J. Offenbach. Sch. Gounod. Saint-Sains

Impressionism in music. C. A. Debussy. M. Ravel. J. Bizet. Sch. C. Saint-Saèns. O. Messiaen. P. Bouleze.

Lecture 13. Holland, Scandinavian Countries and Baltic Countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania)

Points to be covered:

Peculiarities of Dutch culture. Historical background. The outstanding figures of Dutch culture. Erasmus of Rotterdam. Rembrandt.

J. Huizinga´s play theory of culture.

Peculiarities of Scandinavian culture. Historical background.

Norway. Skalds. E. Greig. K. Gamson, H. Ibsen.

Finland Folk-lore.The runes. Epic "Kalevala". Music. J. Sibelius.

Peculiarities and outstanding figures of Estonia, Latvian and Lithuanian cultures.

The 12th week

Seminar 10. Culture of the Western and Northern Europe

Subsection: Western Mediterranean Region

Lecture 14. Italy: The Renaissance of Thought and Literature.

Points to be covered:

The intellectual revival. Humanism.

Dante. Francis Petrarh. Bocaccio. Civic humanists. Moral teachings.

L. Bruni. L. B. Alberti. C. Raimondi. L. Valla. N. Machiavelli. G. Bruno. P. Pomponazzi.

Giotto. S. Botticelli. P. Lippi. B. Lesce. Leonardo da Vinci. Raphael. Michelangelo. Donatello. Bramante. Titian. Veroneze. Caravaggio. Mannerism. Tintoretto.

The 13th week

Lecture 15. Italy: Music, Cinema, Museums, and Sites.

Points to be covered:

Musical instruments and their makers. Amati. Stradivari. Guarneri.

B. Cristofori

Oratorio. Opera. C. Monteverdi. Y. B. Pergolesie.

B.Y.A.D. Scarlatti. J. B. Sammartini. Y. Tartini. Z. Boccherini.

V. Bellini, G. Donizetti, J. Rossini, N. Paganini, J. Verdi, J. Puccini,

R. Leoncavallo.

Cinema. De Sica, M. Antonioni, L. Visconti, F. Fellini, F. Zefirelli.

Museums Sites. Places of interest.

Seminar 11. Culture of Italy

The 14th week

Lecture 16. Cultures of Spain and Portugal

Points to be covered:

Peculiarities of Spanish culture.

Historical background. Moorish and Gypsy influences in Spanish culture.

Literature. Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderon de la Barca. Federico Garsia Lorca.

Arts. El Greco. Murillo. D. Velasquez. F. Goya. P. Picasso. S. Dali.

Music. Folk-songs and dances. Andalusian fandango, flamenco and malaquena etc. Professional music. Singers Manuel Garcia, M. Malibran, P. Viardot-Garcia. P. Sarasate, I. Albeniz, Manuel de Falliya-Navascuès.

Sites. Museums. Prado. Places of interest.

Architecture. Modernist architecture in Barcelona. A. Gaudi.

Peculiarities of Portuguese culture. Historical background. History of Lisbon. The era of great geographical discoveries. Vasco da Gama. F. Magellan. The Spice root to India. Portuguese Baroque. The Moorish, Indian and Spanish influences in architecture and arts. Manuelino. Azulejo. Bull fighting

Music Fado.


Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

Seminar 12. Culture of Western Mediterranean region.

The 15th week

Subsection: Western Central Europe

Lecture 17.Cuiture of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Points to be covered:

German literature religion and philosophy. M. Luther’s revolt.

G. E. Lessing, I. Kant. A. Schopenhauer "Sturm und Drang".

J. W. Goethe. F. fon Schiller. H. Heine.

F. W. Nietzsche. Z. Freud. A. Schweitzer. "The Veneration for life".

Expressionism. L. Frank.

A. Hitler.

Literature. H. Mann. T. Mann. E. M. Remarque . H. Hesse. H. Böll.

Austrian literature. S. Zweig

Fine arts in Germany. A. D?rer. P. Bruegel.

German and Austrian music. C. Gluck, J. S. Bach, J. Hydn, V. A. Motzart, Ludvig van Beethoven, K. M. Veber, J. Stroeuss, F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, F. D. Schubert, V. Schumann, R. Wagner, R. Stroeuss, A. Schònberg.

Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

Peculiarities of Swiss culture.

Literature. M. Friesh. F. Durrenmatt.

Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

Seminar 13. Culture of Western Central Europe

The 16th week

Subsection: Eastern Central Europe.

Lecture 18. Culture of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Slovakia.

Points to be covered:

Common cultural patterns, existing in the religion, linked to a common historical heritage.

Peculiarities of Polish culture. Historical background. The outstanding figures of Polish literature and art. A. Mickiewicz, F. Chopin .

Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

Peculiarities of Hungarian culture. Historical background. Turkic and Gipsy influences. The outstanding figures of Hungarian literature and art. F. List.

Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

Peculiarities of Czech culture. Czech literature and art. Historical background. The outstanding figures of Czech culture. B. Smetana. A. Dvorak. K. Chapek.

Lecture 19.Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus

Points to be covered:

Landmarks of Slavic history. Byzantine conversion of Slavic peoples. Medieval Russia as a cultural province of Byzantuizam. Kievan and Muscovite Russia. Rise of Russia. Petrine period. Peter´s reforms and innovations in government, society, industry, Church, education and culture.

Russian culture. Literature. Art. Architecture, sites. Music. Icon painting. Monuments of architecture. Cathedrals. Peculiarities of Church architecture. Sites. Kremlin. Heritage. Petergoff. Painting. The flourishing of literature and in the 19th century. Classicism. Romanticism Realism. N. Gogol, A. Pushkin, M. Lermontov, I. Turgenev,

F. Dostoyevski, A. Chekhov, L. Tolstoy.

Ukrainian literature. T. Shevchenko.

Flourishing of music in the 19th century. M. Glinka, P. Tchaykovsky,

M. Rimsky-Korsakov, G. Borodin. Theatre. K. Stanislavsky. Balet. Bolshevism in Russia. Socialist revolution of 1917. Changes in ideology. Literature and art of Soviet decades in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Russian avant-garde. Socialist realism.

Music. S. Rakhmaninov, S. Prokofyev, D. Shostakovich.

Russian culture in the turn of millennia.

Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

The 17th week

Seminar 14. Culture of the Eastern Europe.

Subsection: The USA

Lecture 20. Culture of the USA

Points to be covered:

Peculiarities of American culture. Historical background.

Music. Ballads. Indian and African influences, The Spirituals. Ragtime.

Country music. Jazz. Dixieland. Musicales. C. Ives. G. Gershwin.

A. Copland. L. Bernstein.

Arts. R. Kent.

Literature. Romanticism W. Irving. N. Howthorne. H. Melville.

E. A. Poe. H. Longfello.

The Boston school or Brahmins. Naturalism. Realism. S. Crane. F. Norris. M. Twain. J. London, Th. Dreiser. Lost generation. E. Hemingway. F.S. Fitzgerald.

W. Faulkner. R. Frost. I. Show.

Sites. Museums. Places of interest.

The 18th week

Seminar 15. Culture of the USA

Seminar 16. Culture of the Western Countries

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