The International Dominance of American Culture


US History (11th) Contemporary America The International Dominance of American Culture
Students consider the role of American culture in society by watching a video of a jazz performance that displays traits of American popular culture. Then, they examine and report on the influence of American culture in eight specific fields. Next, they explore and evaluate why American culture is so popular. Finally, they reflect on how cultural diffusion is a complex phenomenon.

This learning experience is designed for device-enabled classrooms. The teacher guides the lesson, and students use embedded resources, social media skills, and critical thinking skills to actively participate. To get access to a free version of the complete lesson, sign up for an exploros account.

1:1 Devices
Teacher Pack

The Pack contains associated resources for the learning experience, typically in the form of articles and videos. There is a teacher Pack (with only teacher information) and a student Pack (which contains only student information). As a teacher, you can toggle between both to see everything.

Here are the teacher pack items for The International Dominance of American Culture:

Preview - Scene 1
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Overview

In this experience, students consider the role of American culture in society by watching a video of a jazz performance that displays traits of American popular culture. Then, they examine and report on the influence of American culture in eight specific fields. Next, they explore and evaluate why American culture is so popular. Finally, they reflect on how cultural diffusion is a complex phenomenon.

Students will collaborate in small groups in scene 2. Each group will research eight cultural forms and write a group report.

Objectives

  • Explain the globalization of pop culture and identify examples.
  • Understand cultural diffusion and its impact upon the world.


If you ask people throughout the world what comes to mind when they think of American culture, they are likely to mention forms of popular culture, such as our music, films, television, fast food, and social networking. In this experience, you’ll explore the worldwide influence of American pop culture.

Objectives

  • Explain the globalization of pop culture and identify examples.
  • Understand cultural diffusion and its impact upon the world.




McDonald’s restaurant in China


As you work through this scene and the rest of the experience, emphasize that this experience is about U.S. cultural dominance, not political dominance. American culture in forms such as music, movies, and fashion has retained a dominant influence throughout the world despite changes in presidential administrations and in world opinion of U.S. policies.


Start this experience with a little music! Watch Miles Davis—It’s about that Time. Watch from the beginning to 3:25, but if you feel like watching more, go right ahead! If you listen with open ears, you’ll hear the rhythms and sounds of hip hop in this music from the summer of 1970. In fact, many prominent rappers such as Notorious B.I.G., Sean Price, Black Moon, and Queen Latifah have sampled Davis’s music.


What is distinctly American about the music and the video? Describe at least two traits.

Post your answer

Possible responses include, but are not limited to:

  • the video medium
  • jazz music
  • the central role of African Americans and African-influenced rhythms
  • electronic instruments
  • casual clothing, such as Miles Davis’s t-shirt
  • loud, informal audience behavior

Trumpeter Miles Davis (1926–1991) was one of the most influential musicians of the second half of the 20th century, radically advancing jazz style several times in his career, including combining jazz and rock as “fusion.” He has influenced contemporary hip hop, as well, as shown in Happy Birthday Miles Davis! Check Out 10 Hip Hop Songs that Sample Work by the Jazz Legend, included in the Teacher Pack. (Because of profanity in some of the hip-hop songs, the article is not appropriate for the Student Pack.) 

The song in the video, “It’s About That Time,” was sampled in a hip-hop song in Spike Lee’s movie, Crooklyn.

The article The Hegemony of Pop is a thoughtful analysis included in the Teacher Pack as background. 


Divide students into their small groups for the next scene. When everyone is ready to continue, unlock the next scene.

End of Preview
The Complete List of Learning Experiences in Contemporary America Unit.
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