United states of America: geography, history, culture

Physical Geography and climate of the USA. The civil and liberation wars in the USA. Causes of The Great depression and industrial revolution of USA. "Cold war" is in the United States: reasons and consequences. Public Holidays and Arts in the USA.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 20.06.2011
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13. Congress of the USA

Legislature of the U.S., separated structurally from the executive and judicial (see judiciary) branches of government. Established by the Constitution of the United States, it succeeded the unicameral congress created by the Articles of Confederation (1781). It consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Representation in the Senate is fixed at two senators per state. Until passage of the 17th Amendment (1913), senators were appointed by the state legislatures; since then they have been elected directly. In the House, representation is proportional to each state's population; total membership is restricted (since 1912) to 435 members (the total rose temporarily to 437 following the admission of Hawaii and Alaska as states in 1959). Congressional business is processed by committees: bills are debated in committees in both houses, and reconciliation of the two resulting versions takes place in a conference committee. A presidential veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in each house. Congress's constitutional powers include the setting and collecting of taxes, borrowing money on credit, regulating commerce, coining money, declaring war, raising and supporting armies, and making all laws necessary for the execution of its powers. All finance-related legislation must originate in the House; powers exclusive to the Senate include approval of presidential nominations, ratification of treaties, and adjudication of impeachments. See also bicameral system.

Constitutional Qualifications for Members of Congress

Members of the House must be at least 25 years of age and a citizen of the US for a minimum of 7 years.

Members of the Senate must be at least 30 years of age and a citizen of the US for a minimum of 9 years.

All representatives must reside in the state from which they are elected, although House members do not need to live in their congressional district.

Powers of Congress (Article 1)

Power to tax

Congress has the power to "lay and collect taxes"

Power to regulate commerce

Congress can make laws regarding trade and commerce amongst the states and with other countries

Power to coin money

the individual states are forbidden to have their own currencies

Power to borrow money

Congress can "borrow money on the credit of the United States"

War Power

the Constitution gives Congress the sole power to declare war. In 1973 it passed the War Powers Act which limited the President's power to send US troops overseas

Elastic Clause

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution states that the Congress is able "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." This has allowed the Congress to pass laws on matters not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, leading to a great expansion of Federal power.

Choosing a President

if no candidate receives a majority of Electoral College votes in a presidential election, the House of Representatives is able to choose a president. Congress also has the power to approve the selection of a vice-president if that office becomes vacant (as happened in 1973 following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, or 1974 following Vice-President Ford's accession to the presidency after President Nixon resigned).

Impeachment

the House may bring charges against an official, such as a judge, or the president. The Senate then acts as the jury and can convict by a two-thirds vote. No president has ever been convicted, although President Andrew Johnson survived by one vote in the 1860s and there is not much doubt that President Nixon would have been removed in 1974 if he had not resigned.

Presidential Appointments and Treaty Ratification

This power is given to the Senate alone. In the 1980s the Senate rejected the nomination by President Reagan of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. A number of Cabinet nominations by various presidents have also been rejected.

Oversight Function

the investigatory role of Congress is an important responsibility. Through committee hearings, the congress is able to investigate government departments and agencies and inquire into issues of concern at any time.

14. Arts

Support for the Arts. The level of public support for the arts is much lower than it is in other wealthy nations. Patronage for unknown individual artists, writers, and performers is scarce. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has a very small operating budget with which it funds everything from public broadcasting to individual artists. In recent years, the NEA has been under attack from Congress, whose conservative members question the value and often the morality of the art produced with NEA grants.

Support also comes from private donations. These donations are tax-deductible and are a popular hedge among the wealthy against income and estate taxes. Generous gifts to prestigious museums, galleries, symphonies, and operas that often name halls and galleries after their donors are essential means of subsidizing the arts.

Literature. Much of American literature revolves around questions of the nature or defining characteristics of the nation and attempts to discern or describe the national identity. American literature found its own voice in the nineteenth century. In the early decades of that century, the essayists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson set out the enduring themes of personal simplicity, the continuity between man and nature, individualism, and self-reliance. Walt Whitman celebrated democracy in his free verse poems.

Other nineteenth-century writers, such as Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mark Twain, articulated moral and ethical questions about the new country and were particularly influential for their critique of American puritanism.

Turn-of-the-century writers such as Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Theodore Dreiser picked up on those themes but were particularly concerned with social class and class mobility. They explored the nature of American culture and the tensions between ideals of freedom and the realities of social conditions.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway began to question the values earlier writers had represented. Fitzgerald questioned the reality of the American dream by highlighting the corrupting influence of wealth and casting doubt on the value of mobility and success. Hemingway, like other modernists, addressed the issue of how one ought to live once one has lost faith in religious values and other social guidelines. Other early twentieth-century writers, such as Zora Neil Hurston, Nella Larsen, and William Faulkner, introduced race and racism as central themes in American literature.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression inspired authors such as John Steinbeck and Willa Cather to write about rural America. Their novels romanticized the hard work of poor rural whites. Implicit in these novels is a critique of the wealth and excess of the urban metropolis and the industrial system that supported it. Although these novels are permeated with multiethnic characters and themes, Anglos are generally the focal point.

Issues of identity and race were explored by earlier American black writers. A generation of black authors after World War II made these permanent themes in American literature, illustrating the poverty, inequality and racism experienced by American blacks. Many black writers explored the meaning of living inside a black skin in a white nation with a legacy of slavery. These writers included James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. Perhaps the most influential contemporary writer who deals with these themes is Toni Morrison.

An important literary school known as Southern Gothic discussed the nature of rural southern

A tractor harvesting crops in the western United States. The U.S. is the world's leading food exporter.

life from the perspective of poor and middle-class whites. Writers such as Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, and Shirley Jackson explored the contradictions between privileged whiteness and a culturally deficient southernness. These novels feature lonely, grotesque, and underprivileged white characters who are the superiors of their black playmates, servants, and neighbors but cultural inferiors in America as a whole.

Beginning in the late 1950s and 1960s, a generation known as the Beats challenged the dominant norms of white American masculinity. They rejected conventions of family and sexuality, corporate success, and money. Among the Beats were William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlingetti, Allan Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac.

Starting in the 1960s, women writers began to challenge the notion that women's place was in the home. Early feminist writers who critiqued the paternalism of marriage include the nonfiction writer Betty Friedan, the novelist Marge Piercy, and the poets Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

Feminist themes, along with issues of ethnicity and otherness, continue to be important in American literature. Gloria Anzuldъa and Ana Castillo show how female and Latina identities intersect. Novels by Louise Erdrich and Leslie Marmon Silko illustrate how Native American families attempt to survive and reclaim their traditions amid poverty and discrimination.

Other contemporary novels try to deconstruct the experience of the "norm" in American culture. Ann Tyler's characters are often empty and unhappy but cannot locate the sources of those feelings. Don Delillo writes about the amoral corporate world, the American obsession with consumer goods, and the chaos and anxiety that underlie the quietness of suburban life. Joyce Carol Oates is attracted to the sinister aspects of social conformity.

These novels are not the most widely read looks in the United States. Much more popular are genres such as crime and adventure, romance, horror, and science fiction. These genres tend to repeat valued cultural narratives. For example, the novels of Tom Clancy feature the United States as the moral victor in cold war and post-Cold War terrorist scenarios. Harlequin romances idealize traditional male and female gender roles and always have a happy ending. In horror novels, violence allows for catharsis among readers. Much science fiction revolves around technical-scientific solutions to human problems.

Graphic Arts. The most influential visual artists are from the modern period. Much early art was imitative of European styles. Important artists include Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol. Warhol's art documented icons of American life such as Cambell's soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. His work was deliberately amusing and commercial. Most graphic art is produced for the advertising industry.

Performance Arts. Performance arts include many original genres of modern dancing that have influenced by classical forms as well as American traditions, such as jazz. Important innovators in dance include Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Alvin Ailey. Theaters in every town that once hosted plays, vaudeville, and musicals now show movies or have closed. In general, performance arts are available only in metropolitan areas.

The United States has produced several popular music genres that are known for blending regional, European, and African influences. The best known of these genres are the African-American inventions blues and jazz. Among the most important jazz composers and musicians are Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonius Monk. Although now considered classics, blues and jazz standards were the popular music of their day.

Music fits into "black" and "white" categories. Popular swing jazz tunes were standardized by band leaders such as Glenn Miller, whose white band made swing music hugely popular with young white people.

Rock 'n' roll, now a major cultural export, has its roots in these earlier popular forms. Major influences in rock and roll include Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Bruce Springstein. Although rock 'n' roll is primarily white, soul and Motown, with singers such as Aretha Franklin, the Supremes, and the Temptations, produced a popular black music.

Country music, another popular genre, has its roots in the early American folk music of the Southeast now termed country or bluegrass. This genre reworked traditional gospel songs and hymns to produce songs about the everyday life of poor whites in the rural Southeast.

Popular music in the United States has always embodied a division between its commercial and entertainment value and its intellectual or political values. Country and folk, blues, rock 'n' roll, rap, and hip-hop have all carried powerful social and political messages. As old forms become standard and commercialized, their political edge tends to give way to more generic content, such as love songs.

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