American Pop Culture

American Pop Culture 

(US and UK Pop Culture)–Summer 2014

Instructor: Mr. Michael Krigline, MA        Xiamen University,  Economics Dept

This class ended July 2014; this page may disappear at any time.

CURRENT STUDENTS: Watch this page during the semester. I’ll add special vocabulary and other resources for our class.

Vocabulary and Key Topics (to help with exam review)

SA=things to study, which may be a “Short Answer” (or True/False, Fill in the Blank, etc) question on the quiz/exam.
  • *Culture (sociological definition): the way of life of a group of people, developed over time and passed down from generation to generation
  • *Culture (anthropological definition): a set of ideals, values, and standards of behavior…that make the actions of individuals intelligible to the group (Edward T Hall)

IMPORTANT: Click here to see a “preview” of your exam. Especially notice the English instructions and examples. Don’t be afraid to ask me to explain unclear “instructions” before class.

As I said in class, be sure to review all of the warm up questions when preparing for the exam.


1) Carefully review the “Leisure chapter” handout, as there is a lot on the test from that material. In class, we talked about how sports/play mirror other aspects of culture, about soccer and other sports for children, the “national religion”, Joe Robinson’s book, and health issues related to exercise (or lack thereof). Be sure you know which “basic American values” we talked about in those lessons. The chapter’s last paragraph is especially important (the purpose of vacation time). If you don’t know what these words mean, then learn them quickly: contrast, renew, challenge, acquire, achieve.

2) Review the “how to study” materials we did in the first two classes. Be sure you know the 5 R’s, and (as I said in class) carefully study the section on dealing with school frustration.

3) There are also a few questions (each) about Uncle Sam, Ivy League schools, public colleges, & Alexis de Tocqueville, as well as a vocabulary matching section (there will not be a separate “synonyms” section; just think of them as “vocabulary terms”). Know the sociological definition of “culture” (see above). As I said in class, there is nothing about “Bend it like Beckham” on the test. There is also no “dictation” or “listening” section.

4) I take tests very seriously. When you arrive, you’ll find a seating chart (please don’t come late). You’ll also find a sheet on the floor at the front–put your bag/purse there. I do not allow anything near or seat or in the chair beside you. On the desk, you can have ONLY two dark pens, an eraser, tissues, a drink. NO extra paper, pencil cases, glasses cases, food or phones.

5) The test is only 4 pages, and shouldn’t take you long if you study hard!

Chapter-by-chapter vocabulary

(chapter/lesson); * key terms; ** key terms we’ve had before; = one-word synonyms (be sure you know how to spell both words)

Most of these definitions came from the source materials; see “use policy” regarding other definitions.

Uncle Sam article:

  • (Sam) * agriculture: the practice, science or process of growing food
  • (Sam) * cartoon (political): a humorous drawing (e.g., in a newspaper), often about politics or everyday life
  • (Sam) * to downsize: to make a workforce smaller, esp. to save money
  • (Sam) folklore: the traditional beliefs or stories told by a group of people (often to explain customs or practices)
  • (Sam) * to make sth official: to let others know publicly or in some legal way (i.e., sth that used to be secret or informal)
  • (Sam) * manufacturing: the practice or process of making things (esp. in factories or on a large scale)
  • (Sam) * multicultural: involving or including people or ideas from many different countries, races, or religions
  • (Sam) * the origin of sth: where sth came from; the place or situation in which sth began
  • (Sam) * to recruit: to look for people to join your company, school, army, etc.
  • (Sam) revolution: time when people change a political system by mass demonstrations, war, or other force
  • (Sam) * a service economy: when more workers provide a service instead of a product (e.g., cooking, teaching, consulting, banking)
  • (Sam) * slogan: a short phrase (also called a catchphrase) that is easy to remember and is used in advertisements, or by politicians, organizations, etc
  • (Sam) * voluntarily: by choice; because you want to (adv)

Improve Your Study Methods

  • (Study) * significance = importance
  • (Study) * to indicate: to show or point to
  • (Study) complementary: related to sth even though they are different
  • (Study) * passively: not actively; without being involved or interested (She listened passively, without thinking about what she heard.)
  • (Study) * the big picture: an overall, general view of things; a situation viewed from an outside, general perspective
  • (Study) reminders: things that help you remember (e.g., remember a major point, a date, an event, or a place)
  • (Study) * transcript: an exact word-for-word written copy of a speech, play, TV show script, etc.
  • (Study) verbatim: word-for-word without leaving anything out or changing anything (“The press printed verbatim his speech.”)
  • (Study) * abbreviation: (缩写, 缩略词): a short form of a word (etc. for etcetera), expression (i.e. for “that is”), title (Dr. for Doctor), name (NBA for National Basketball Association), and so forth
  • (Study) to revise: to change sth in order to make it better or more accurate (in BrE, to revise can also mean “to study sth again” but Americans do not use it this way)
  • (Study) fragment: a piece; an incomplete part of sth
  • (Study) the meat of sth: the most important part or main idea (of a speech, book, movie, etc)
  • (Study) the flow of sth: a steady forward movement, especially in relation to the way ideas build on each other during a speech, lecture, book, etc.
  • (Study) particular: specific or carefully chosen
  • (Study) * to review: (AmE) to look again at something you have studied (British equivalent: revise)
  • (Study) senses: your five natural abilities to see, hear, feel, taste and/or smell
  • (Study) * to compile: to add together; to put information together in one place
  • (Study) to gauge: to judge or measure carefully (a gauge is an instrument or device that shows a measurement, especially in relation to minimum or maximum, such as a fuel gauge in a car)
  • (Study) * prior to = before
  • (Study) * extracurricular: (adj, only before noun) additional activities, clubs, jobs, etc., that students do but that are not part of someone’s studies
  • (Study) to integrate: combine in an effective way
  • (Study) * to analyze: to carefully examine, esp. in terms of something’s relationship with other things
  • (Study) procedure: method; the best way to do something
  • (Study) * pertinent = relevant; directly related
  • (Study) a sitting: one continuous amount of time (i.e., how long you sit without standing up)
  • (Study) interruptions: distractions; things that unexpectedly stop what you are doing
  • (Study) to recite: to say sth out loud from memory, or in order to memorize it (i.e., to know it so well that you can repeat it perfectly)
  • (Study) to cram (for a test): to quickly learn a lot of material so that you can use it on an exam (even though you will probably forget it soon after the exam)
  • (Study) confident: certain or sure (esp. about your ability to do sth or about the truth of sth that others are not sure about)
  • (Study) * methodically: in a step-by-step way
  • (Study) (leave it) blank: empty; without writing
  • (Study) * to skip sth/sb: to choose not to do something you should do, like attend a class, answer a test question, read an assignment, report for work, or eat a meal
  • (Study) * to panic (panicked, panicking): to react in a strange (not logical or appropriate) way because of fear (Notice the unusual spelling of past/continuous verb forms; “They panicked when they heard rumors, which caused a panic in the community.”)
  • (Study) * essential = necessary; extremely important
  • (Study) * frustrations: things beyond your control that cause you to feel irritated, upset, or frustrated [you feel frustrated when annoyed because you cannot change a situation, understand something you are supposed to do, lack control, etc. (students have given these translations: 憋屈, 惘然, 失意的, 气馁, 灰心, 沮丧, 失望)
  • (Study) to put forth: (1. AmE) to give extra effort in order to accomplish sth; (2. formal) to give, suggest or produce sth

Leisure Time in America (^means “important English word”; *means “important for this class”)

  • 10 attention span: the amount of time that you are able to carefully listen to or watch sth that is happening
  • 10 ^ to bond: to develop a special relationship (as a father with his son, or among teammates)
  • 10 ^ comment: an opinion that you express
  • 10 ^ * committed: willing to work very hard at something
  • 10 to console: to make someone feel better when they are feeling sad or disappointed
  • 10 * contract: a legal written agreement, showing the responsibilities of those who have signed it
  • 10 ^ contrary: in an opposite way
  • 10 ^ * to derive: to get or produce from something
  • 10 ^ elements: parts or features of a whole system
  • 10 ^ equipment: special things needed for a sport, job, task, etc.
  • 10 ^ to evolve: to develop by gradually changing
  • 10 ^ * explicit: clear, direct
  • 10 ^ exposed: shown, revealed, or faced with
  • 10 * handicrafts: skills needing careful use of your hands, such as sewing or making baskets
  • 10 ^ * to illustrate: to make the meaning of something clearer by giving examples
  • 10 ^ * image: the way others see you; sth that intentionally looks like sth else (e.g., the face on a coin)
  • 10 * ingrained: attitudes or behavior that are firmly established and therefore difficult to change
  • 10 injury: a wound to your body caused by accident or attack
  • 10 ^ intense: very strong
  • 10 ^ * to involve: to include as a necessary part; to actively do (sth)
  • 10 ^ involving: including something as a necessary part
  • 10 ^ * item: a single thing in a set, group, or list
  • 10 ^ * to label: to attach information (e.g., a price, the item’s brand name, the name of a disease or problem)
  • 10 ^ * lecture: a long educational talk given to a group
  • 10 ^ likewise: in the same way
  • 10 ^ * mental: affecting the mind
  • 10 ^ to monitor: to watch carefully
  • 10 notorious: famous or well-known for something bad
  • 10 obsessed: thinking about sb or sth so much that you think unclearly about other things
  • 10 overindulgence: the habit of eating or drinking too much
  • 10 ^ overseas: in a foreign country (esp. if across the ocean)
  • 10 performance-enhancing drugs drugs such as steroids that some athletes use illegally to improve their strength or endurance
  • 10 * portions: the amount of food for one person, especially when served in a restaurant
  • 10 ^ * principal = main (i.e., most important)
  • 10 ^ project: a carefully planned work
  • 10 * proliferation: a rapid increase in the amount or number of something
  • 10 ^ psychological: relating to the way people’s minds work
  • 10 ^ range: different things of the same general type
  • 10 ^ * to relax: to rest (loosen muscles, become calm) after doing something intense or demanding; “Afterwork, I like to relax by listening to music.”
  • 10 sedentary: doing or requiring much sitting
  • 10 * slender: thin, graceful, and attractive
  • 10 symbol: something that represents an idea
  • 10 ^ * uniform: the same; a standardized set of clothes for fellow students, police officers, soldiers, etc.
  • 10 ^ * via: using a person or machine to send something
  • 10 * vitality: great energy and cheerfulness, and the ability to continue working effectively
  • 10 * walkie-talkie: battery-operated, two way radio telephone

Ivy League article

  • (Ivy) * alumni = graduates (from a particular school)
  • (Ivy) * conservative: supporting political traditions (things that worked in the past); “too much government” is the problem (see chapter 3)
  • (Ivy) * credentials: documents or facts used to tell others the truth about your education, experience, identity, etc.
  • (Ivy) * endowment: funds given in the past (the interest is used to support a university, family, etc.)
  • (Ivy) * liberal: supporting political change; “more government” is the solution (see chapter 3)
  • (Ivy) * prestige: the respect and importance that a person, organization, or profession has
  • (Ivy) * to recruit: to look for people to join your company, school, army, etc.

Public Colleges articles

  • (Public) * democracy: a system of government in which voters select their leaders (in modern times, “voters” means “all citizens”; in the past, “voters” were more narrowly defined by gender, race, wealth, affiliation, or other criteria)
  • (Public) * distance education: individual instruction to students not physically present in a classroom (e.g., on line, correspondence, via special seminars)
  • (Public) ^ * grant: a large gift, such as land or a scholarship
  • (Public) * modest: not great, not “showing off” (a modest tuition, musician, dress; opposite of great, expensive, boastful or sexy)
  • (Public) * sophisticated sth complicated/advanced, or sb having the experience/knowledge to understand such things (e.g., a sophisticated machine or voter)


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