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WORKING CLASS LITERATURE —
SHORT STORIES, NOVELS, POETRY, ACADEMIC BOOKS, HISTORIES
Class Matters: Working Class Studies Association Conference, Pittsburgh, PA
June 3 – 6, 2009 The Working Class Studies Association (WCSA) is pleased to announce that its biennial Conference will be held at the University of Pittsburgh, June 3 – 6, 2009. Proposals are invited for presentations, panels, workshops, and performances, according to the guidelines attached. Proposals must be received by January 4, 2009.
(Note to working class literature publishers — if your book costs more than two hours' wage for the average working class worker, you may be publishing about the working class, but are you publishing for the working class? Not all working people have access to public libraries, and not all libraries stock working class titles.)
Fiction — Non-fiction
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer — Mark Twain. Mischief is Tom Sawyer's middle name. There is nothing he likes better than playing hookey from school, messing about on the Mississippi with his best friend, the hobo Huckleberry Finn, or wooing the elusive beauty Becky Thatcher. Lazy and reckless, he is a menace to his Aunt Polly — 'Tom, I've a notion to skin you alive' — an embarrassment to his teachers and the envy of his peers. But there is method in his badness. He exhibits all the cunning of a magpie when hatching an elaborate scheme to avoid whitewashing a fence, and an adventure downriver with Huck and Joe Harper plunges the little town of St Petersburg into such an outpouring of grief that Tom is spared the belt on his return. But the innocent adventures end suddenly when Tom and Huck witness a murder in the graveyard. Should they tell of what they saw under the moonlight, when Injun Joe slipped the bloodstained knife into the hands of Muff Potter? Or should they 'keep mum' and risk letting an innocent man go to the gallows?
Afternoon in the Jungle: The Selected Short Stories of Albert Maltz — Albert Maltz. Americans in America as it is, not as it is idealized. Without being outright disrespectful and critical of [the U.S.], the human dramas Maltz has written concern social problems that have not been fully resolved, even decades after these stories were written. The spiritually impoverishing drudgery of manual labor finds a home in a nameless town when a circus comes. Racism threatens the life of an unborn child. Suicide erupts in a tranquil urban setting. Corruption mars the landscape in a Southern town. A poor child learns the destructiveness of greed when he faces another, equally poor man one late winter afternoon. Two couples are ruined or threatened by dangerous job conditions.
An American Mosaic: Prose and Poetry by Everyday Folk — Robert Wolf (Editor), Bonnie Koloc (Illustrator). Wolf helped found the nonprofit Free River Press to publish the writings of homeless men and women. He helped nonwriters overcome their inhibitions about writing by conducting "orally oriented" workshops. These proved to be so successful he widened the circle to include other groups in need of a forum, such as farm families and citizens of small towns. The resulting poems and personal narratives are authentic, involving, and enlightening. They do, indeed, create a mosaic, and it captures the frustration and determination of people whose lives are constricted by harsh economic realities. Homeless men and women write about their lives both before and after they ended up on the streets, and rural life is revealed in all its surprising diversity, demands, satisfactions, and traumas. Wolf characterizes rural America and the terrain of the homeless as a Third World country and believes that the only way things will improve is if the stories of its people are heard.
American Sensations: Class, Empire, and the Production of Popular Culture (American Crossroads, 9) — Shelley Streeby. Investigates an intriguing, thrilling, and often lurid assortment of sensational literature that was extremely popular in the United States in 1848--including dime novels, cheap story paper literature, and journalism for working-class Americans. Shelley Streeby uncovers themes and images in this "literature of sensation" that reveal the profound influence that the U.S.-Mexican War and other nineteenth-century imperial ventures throughout the Americas had on U.S. politics and culture. Streeby's analysis of this fascinating body of popular literature and mass culture broadens into a sweeping demonstration of the importance of the concept of empire for understanding U.S. history and literature.
American Working-Class Literature — Nicholas Coles & Janet Zandy. An Anthology. Key historical and cultural developments in working-class life. The only book of its kind, this groundbreaking anthology includes work not only by the industrial proletariat but also by slaves and unskilled workers, by those who work unpaid at home, and by workers in contemporary service industries. As diverse in race, gender, culture, and region as America's working class itself, the selections represent a wide range of genres including fiction, poetry, drama, memoir, oratory, journalism, letters, oral history, and songs. Works by little-known or anonymous authors are included alongside texts from such acclaimed writers as Frederick Douglass, Upton Sinclair, Tillie Olsen, Philip Levine, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Leslie Marmon Silko.
Andromeda: A Space Age Tale — Ivan Yefremov. (1957)
Animal Farm — George Orwell.
An Anthology of Chartist Poetry: Poetry of the British Working Class, 1830S-1850s — Peter Scheckner.
Ardent Propaganda: Miners’ Novels and Class Conflict 1929-1939 — David Bell.
The Armies of Labor - A Chronicle of the Organised Wage-Earners — Samuel P. Orth. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. Hesperides Press are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Arrogant Beggar — Anzia Yezierska. This realistic, socially conscious, occasionally overly romantic novel by Yezierska (1880-1970) chronicles the adventures of narrator Adele Lindner, who exposes the hypocrisy of the charitably run Hellman Home for Working Girls (read the Clara de Hirsch Home) after fleeing from the poverty of the Lower East Side. In the seemingly picture-perfect institution, Adele's eyes are opened. She wants to be seen as an equal, but her benefactress instead sees her as a servant girl, someone whose role, she is told later, "consists in serving others." Later, after leaving the home and founding a restaurant, Adele is able to practice philanthropy the way she feels it should be practiced. On its publication in 1927, this book was criticized for its sarcastic attacks on boarding institutions. Though dated and sometimes melodramatic, particularly where Adele's romance with her benefactress's son is concerned, the social commentary about Jewish class and ethnic tensions still rings true. Fast-paced, the book brings to life the teeming activity of the Lower East Side with both passion and careful attention to detail.
Audacious Democracy: Labor, Intellectuals, and the Social Reconstruction of America — Steven Fraser. The labor movement-reviled, held in contempt, or ignored for a generation-is making itself heard again. How can a newly aroused and combative labor movement restore social justice and economic security to postmodern America? This collection of essays by intellectuals and labor activists does nothing less than challenge the corporate domination of American life.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X — Malcolm X.
Autobiography of Mother Jones — Mary Harris Jones. Widowed at the age of 30 when her husband and four young children died during a yellow fever epidemic, Jones spoke tirelessly and effectively throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries on behalf of workers' rights and unionists, and played a significant role in organizing mining strikes.
The Beans of Egypt, Maine — Carolyn Chute. Carolyn Chute is an American writer and populist political activist strongly identified with the culture of poor, rural western Maine. See Wikipedia.
Beggars of Life: A Hobo Autobiography — Jim Tully (Author), Charles Ray Willeford (Introduction). A bestseller in 1924, this vivid piece of outlaw history has inexplicably faded from the public consciousness. Jim Tully takes us across the seamy underbelly of pre-WWI America on freight trains, and inside hobo jungles and brothels while narrowly averting railroad bulls (cops) and wardens of order. Written with unflinching honesty and insight, Beggars of Life follows Tully from his first ride at age thirteen, choosing life on the road over a deadening job, through his teenage years of learning the ropes of the rails and -living one meal to the next. Followed by: Circus Parade, "a series of none too happy and often ironical incidents with a circus"; Shanty Irish, "the background of a road-kid who becomes articulate"; Shadows of Men, "the tribulations, vagaries, and hallucinations of men in jail"; and Blood on the Moon, "the period which led to social adjustment. . . With it I bid farewell forever, I hope, to that life, the winds of which equally twisted and strengthened me for the sadder years ahead."
The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs — Ray Ginger, with a new introduction by Mike Davis. Presents "the definitive story of the life and legacy of the most eloquent spokesperson and leader of the US labor and socialist movements."
Betrayal of Work : How Low-wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans (03 Edition) — Beth Shulman. Following its publication in hardcover, the critically acclaimed The Betrayal of Work became one of the most influential policy books about economic life in America; it was discussed in the pages of Newsweek, Business Week, Fortune, the Washington Post, Newsday, and USA Today, as well as in public policy journals and in broadcast interviews, including a one-on-one with Bill Moyers on PBS's Now, The American Prospect's James K. Galbraith's praise was typical: Shulman's slim and graceful book is a model combination of compelling portraiture, common sense, and understated conviction. Beth Shulman's powerfully argued book offers a full program to address the injustice faced by the 30 million Americans who work full time but do not make a living wage. As the influential Harvard Business School newsletter put it, Shulman specifically outlines how structural changes in the economy may be achieved, thus expanding opportunities for all Americans. This edition includes a new afterword that intervenes in the post-election debate by arguing that low-wage work is an urgent moral issue of our time.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 — Marcus Rediker.
Between the Hills and the Sea — K.B. Gilden. (1990) The cold war in the Connecticut labor movement.
Big Bad Love — Larry Brown. Ten short stories "dealing with sex, with drink, with fear, with all kinds of bad luck and obsession, these stories are unflinching and not for the fainthearted or the easily shocked. But as is true of all Brown's fiction, these ten stories are linked in a collected statement of redemption and hope, a statement here illuminated by the obsession that sets man apart from beast - the drive to communicate. Here are ten stories and ten heroes -- heroes who share many of the same characteristics, though not exactly the same name. Here are Leo, Lonnie, Leroy, Louis, Mr. Lawrence, Leon... some even have the initials L.B. All ten live in rural Mississippi. They like to drive around the back roads in pickup trucks with coolers of beer close at hand. Their marriages aren't ideal. They frequent local bars. They are men of few words driven to express themselves. Nine of the stories are irreverent, brutal, and funny. In the tenth story, one difference sets its hero apart. He is a writer. And by the end of this book, we understand what it is that drives this writer past alcoholism, infidelity, love, grief. His story is also irreverent and brutal, but it is not quite so funny. Instead, it is as close to the truth as human expression can take us."
Big Red Songbook — Archie Green, John Neuhaus. A collection of "the potent and piquant songs that Wobblies of many creeds and colors sang around copper mines and hobo campfires, on picket lines and in jail." The music of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Big Trouble — J. Anthony Lukas. An important work about the "Trial of the Century," the murder conspiracy trial of Western Federation of Miners (WFM) leader Bill Haywood and two associates, who were successfully defended by Clarence Darrow. While the book appreciates class issues, it fails in one significant way-- it explores in depth the lives of everyone connected with the trial except for the WFM miners. Also see The Corpse on Boomerang Road.
Biographies Of Working Men — Grant Allen.
Bisbee '17 — Robert Houston. (1979) About the Bisbee Deportation of 1917.
BLACK PIT — Albert Maltz. A workers’ drama about West Virginia miners and union organizing. The cause demands stern sacrifices, but some turn to treachery.
Blood Red Roses — John McGrath. Blood Red Roses explores the apathy and misery which overtook the working-class, especially in Scotland, under the Callaghan and Thatcher governments. The drama covers the same period as John Mortimer's series Paradise Postponed but whereas Mortimer explored the decline and fall of the English middle-class, McGrath was concerned with the experience of the Scottish working-class. The drama's central subject, the closure of the local factory - and largest local employer - following the union defeat of the multinational company which takes it over, was based on a real incident in East Kilbride. Bessie is a feisty heroine, almost too committed and brave to be true. When we first meet her, she is fighting, and she continues to fight everyone she sees as an enemy, whether it is her mother's lover or the chauvinist school minister. McGrath is concerned with sexual politics too; Bessie's political and sexual awakening coincide, but her new husband still expects her to stay at home to bring up the children. Her increasing trade union involvement inevitably puts a strain on the marriage, and eventually Bessie finds herself a single parent. Her problems worsen when she is victimised and cannot get another job, because of her union militancy. But she is a survivor. McGrath ends by bringing Bessie's story right up to date, and showing her marching with her children and other mothers at the Glasgow May Day parade, no longer alone but one of millions challenging the old order. -Janet Moat
Blood, Sweat & Tears: The Evolution of Work — Richard Donkin. Blood, Sweat & Tears is a captivating history of work, from prehistoric times to the present day. It offers fascinating and intelligent analyses of the individuals, assumptions, theories, developments, and practices that have so much changed work. Based on detailed research from around the world, the author examines early societies, slavery, the guilds, the creation of trade secrets and the influence of religion on work (such as the humanist ideals of the great Quaker industrialists). Donkin also investigates the ideas of the theorists, such as F. W. Taylor, Max Weber, Elton Mayo, Mary Parker Follett, and W. Edwards Demming, and the impact they have had on our lives. And, controversially, the author challenges the work ethic on behalf of all those whose lives have increasingly become subsumed by the demands of employers, asking the question: Why do we do it? Donkin challenges the Protestant work ethic and suggests that people would lead happier lives if they worked less.
Blue Collar Goodbyes — Sue Doro. Honest and powerful portraits of real blue collar working people facing imminent job loss. Doro chronicles the struggles and victories of her life and the lives of those around her.
The Bonds of Labor: German Journeys to the Working World, 1890-1990 (Kritik: German Literary Theory and Cultural Studies) — Carol Poore.
Border Country — Raymond Williams. An academic visits his sick father, who was a railway signalman. There are lengthy flashbacks to the 1920s and 1930s, including the General Strike of 1926. Though fiction, it has many points in common with Raymond Williams's own background. From Wikipedia.
Border Iron — Herbert Best.
Bows against the Barons — Geoffrey Trease.
Bread Givers — Anzia Yezierska. 1975.
British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870-1900: Beauty for the People (Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture) — Diana Maltz. Reveals the interdependence between British Aestheticism and late-Victorian social reform movements. Following John Ruskin, who believed in art's power to civilize the poor, cultural philanthropists promulgated a Religion of Beauty as they advocated practical schemes for tenement reform, university-settlement education, Sunday museum opening, and High Anglican revival.
Broken Promise : Subversion of U. S. Labor Relations Policy, 1947-1994 (95 Edition) — James A. Gross and Paula Rayman and Cermen Sirianni. The Wagner Act of 1935 (later the Wagner-Taft-Hartley Act of 1947) was intended to democratize vast numbers of American workplaces: the federal government was to encourage worker organization and the substitution of collective bargaining for employers' unilateral determination of vital work-place matters. Yet this system of industrial democracy was never realized; the promise was "broken." In this rare inside look at the process of government regulation over the last forty-five years, James A. Gross analyzes why the promise of the policy was never fulfilled. Gross looks at how the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) policy-making has been influenced by the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, public opinion, resistance by organized employers, the political and economic strategies of organized labor, and the ideological dispositions of NLRB appointees.
Brownsville: Stories — Oscar Casares. Probing underneath the surface of Tex-Mex culture, Casares's stories, with their wisecracking, temperamental, obsessive middle-aged men and their dramas straight from neighborhood gossip are in the direct line of descent from Mark Twain and Ring Lardner.
Burning Valley (Radical Novel Reconsidered) — Phillip Bonosky. The story of a young working class boy's developing conscience as he lives life out in a steeltown. While Benedict's dilemmas sometimes seem a trifle precious and overwrought, the author brings the character off in a way that endears the reader to him even while finding him sometimes annoying. This title should be of interest to anyone who enjoyed Thomas Bell's Out of the Furnace. It also deserves an audience from those interested in liberation theology.
By the Sweat of the Brow: Literature and Labor in Antebellum America — Nicholas K. Bromell. The spread of industrialism, the emergence of professionalism, and the challenge to slavery fueled an anxious debate about the meaning and value of work in antebellum America. In chapters on Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Rebecca Harding Davis, Susan Warner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass, Nicholas Bromell argues that American writers generally sensed a deep affinity between the mental labor of writing and such bodily labors as blacksmithing, house building, housework, mothering, and farming.
Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working Class Camerados
Camaro City — Alan Sternberg. The economic blight that has devastated southeastern Connecticut's old industrial towns forms the backdrop for this debut collection about the problems of blue-collar workers in hard times. Most of Sternberg's stories are about men who build and fix things, who "might have worked in the factories if the factories hadn't closed." These men are concerned with keeping their jobs and their often better-educated and better-employed wives while dealing with problems from unruly kids to house fires. There is some diversity of character here in the occasional professional worker or person of color, but it is the beefy white blue-collar worker in a grittily realistic milieu who is so keenly, almost lovingly, portrayed.
Cane — Jean Toomer. African-American poetry.
Catch-22 — Heller.
The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880-1920 — Olivier Zunz. Originally published in 1983, The Changing Face of Inequality is the first systematic social history of a major American city undergoing industrialization. Zunz examines Detroit's evolution between 1880 and 1920 and discovers the ways in which ethnic and class relations profoundly altered its urban scene.
Chartism to Trainspotting — See Working Class Fiction.
Chicago Stories (Prairie State Books) — James T. Farrell.
Child Labour Issues 46 — Craig Donnellan. It is estimated that over 250 million children work for a living, 300,000 have fought in armed conflicts world-wide and each year over one million children enter the sex trade. This book looks at the growing problem of child exploitation and what is being done to eradicate it.
Child of the Dark — Carolina Maria De Jesus. The diary of a Brazilian peasant who lived most of her life in the favela (slums) of São Paulo, Brazil. See Wikipedia.
Children for Hire: The Perils of Child Labor in the United States — Marvin J. Levine. Despite popular belief, the problem of illegal child labor has not been remedied. The practice persists in the United States and even appears to be increasing. Levine, an acknowledged expert in the field, reveals the nature and magnitude of this "old" problem in today's economy. Levine explains that since 1981, there has been a relaxation in enforcement of federal child labor law provisions. He presents the complicated elements and troubling implications of a problem that has come to be ignored or overlooked in American society, focusing especially on matters of occupational health and safety. This book is important reading for the general public, as well as for scholars and policymakers involved with children's and labor issues in the United States. The United States has more of its children in the workforce than any other developed country. They are found in textile, jewelry, and machine shops in New York and New Jersey, in Southeast supermarkets operating meat-cutting machines and paper-box bailers, in Washington state selling candy door-to-door, and in farming operations throughout the country.
Children of Other Worlds: Exploitation in the Global Market — Jeremy Seabrook. Examines the international exploitation of children and exposes the hypocrisy, piety, and moral blindness that have informed much of the debate in the West on the rights of the child. Seabrook addresses the key question of whether the West can turn its benevolent attention to the evils of child labor in the rest of the world without first understanding that gross forms of poverty anywhere are part of the same pathology.
Choose a Bright Morning — Hillel Bernstein.
Christ in Concrete : a novel — Pietro Di Donato. Italian-American fiction.
Class (The New Critical Idiom) — Gary Day. Traces the phenomenon of class from the medieval to the postmodern period, examining its relevance to literary and cultural analysis today. Drawing on historical, sociological and literary writings, Gary Day gives an account of class at different historical moments; shows the role of class in literary constructions of the social; examines the complex relations between "class" and "culture"; focuses attention on the role of class in constructions of "the literary" and "the canon"; employs a revived and revised notion of class to critique recent theoretical movements.
Class in Turn-of-the-Century Novels of Gissing, James, Hardy And Wells (The Nineteenth Century Series) — Christine Devine.
Class War: A Decade of Disorder — Ian Bone (Author), Alan Pullen (Author), Tim Scargill (Author). This book is about the class war federations tabloid (Class War). It contains the history of the paper, and events surrounding it, very interesting for anyone interested in class politics and direct action. Not much on the deeper side of the politics, refer to their book Unfinished Business for the politics behind the chaos. Great stories, comics, and propaganda graphics, a must have for syndicalists and anyone into what democracy really looks like.
The Cliff Walk: A Memoir of a Job Lost and a Life Found — Don J Snyder. Snyder was an English professor at Colgate University with books to his credit and teaching awards, a beautiful old house which comfortably housed his wife and four small children, and the perks and honors that normally acrue to a successful academic. Then he was fired. The book he has written about his subsequent two-year struggle to understand that fact is a painful one (particularly for another academic), because it is so unflinchingly honest. Without a trace of selfpity, Snyder describes his vain attempts to get another teaching job, his descent into a kind of twilight of disbelief and loss of faith in himself, and then his recovery through a stint as a carpenter's laborer. Snyder may not be much of a carpenter, as he himself admits, but he has written a wonderful and moving memoir." -- Daniel Weiss
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty — Eudora Welty. Character stories from the southern U.S.
Common Sense and a Little Fire (95 Edition) — Annelise Orleck. Traces the personal and public lives of four immigrant women activists who left a lasting imprint on American politics. Though they have rarely had more than cameo appearances in previous histories, Rose Schneiderman, Fannia Cohn, Clara Lemlich Shavelson, and Pauline Newman played important roles in the emergence of organized labor, the New Deal welfare state, adult education, and the modern women's movement. Orleck takes her four subjects from turbulent, turn-of-the-century Eastern Europe to the radical ferment of New York's Lower East Side and the gaslit tenements where young workers studied together. Drawing from the women's writings and speeches, she paints a compelling picture of housewives' food and rent protests, of grim conditions in the garment shops, of factory-floor friendships that laid the basis for a mass uprising of young women garment workers, and of the impassioned rallies working women organized for suffrage. From that era of rebellion, Orleck charts the rise of a distinctly working-class feminism that fueled poor women's activism and shaped government labor, tenant, and consumer policies through the early 1950s.
The Common Thread: Writings by Working Class Woman — June Burnett.
Company Woman — Kathleen De Grave.
The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain Now Collected for the First Time — Mark Twain, Charles Neider.
The Condition of the Working Class in England (World's Classics) — Friedrich Engels (Author), David McLellan (Editor). This, the first book written by Engels during his stay in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, is the best known and in many ways the best study of the working class in Victorian England.
Co-op — Upton Sinclair.
Corporations Are Gonna Get Your Mama — edited by Kevin Danaher. Collection of essays by different writers on globalization, the rise of corporate power, and the downsizing of the American Dream. Forward by Noam Chomsky.
The Corpse on Boomerang Road — MaryJoy Martin. Written in the style of a novel, with a significant surprise revealed in the early chapters, this is the account of the war against the Western Federation of Miners in Telluride, Colorado. Adds a new perspective to the account of the WFM leadership explored in Big Trouble.
Cranford — Elizabeth Gaskell. Classic portrait of life in a quiet English village of the early nineteenth century.
The Cricket in Times Square — George Selden. A very sweet story about a cricket from Connecticut who accidentally ends up in the subway station at Times Square. While there, he makes some friends, and discovers that he has an amazing talent.
Cruising Modernism: Class and Sexuality in American Literature and Social Thought — Michael Trask. Modern society, Michael Trask argues in this incisive and original book, chose to couch class difference in terms of illicit sexuality. Trask demonstrates how sexual science’s concept of erotic perversion mediated the writing of both literary figures and social theorists when it came to the innovative and unsettling social arrangements of the early twentieth century. Trask focuses on the James brothers in a critique of pragmatism and anti-immigrant sentiment, shows the influence of behavioral psychology on Gertrude Stein’s work, uncovers a sustained reflection on casual labor in Hart Crane’s lyric poetry, and traces the identification of working-class Catholics with deviant passions in Willa Cather’s fiction. Finally, Trask examines how literary leftists borrowed the antiprostitution rhetoric of Progressive-era reformers to protest the ascendence of consumerism in the 1920s. Viewing class as a restless and unstable category, Trask contends, American modernist writers appropriated sexology’s concept of evasive, unmoored desire to account for the seismic shift in social relations during the Progressive era and beyond. Looking closely at the fraught ideological space between real and perceived class differences, Cruising Modernism discloses there a pervasive representation of sexuality as well.
CUENTOS: STORIES BY LATINAS — edited by Alma Gómez, and Cherríe Moraga, and Mariana Romo-Carmona. Cuentos: Stories by Latinas describe the varied experiences of Hispanic women. Anger, love, compassion, humor and pathos fill the pages of this collection. Most importantly, these women speak of their ability to overcome daily struggles of survival, and prevail.
Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American 1930s — Laura Hapke
Death of a Salesman; Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem — Arthur Miller. American literary drama.
The Death Ship — B.
Traven. Describes the predicament of merchant seamen who lack documentation
of citizenship and cannot find legal residence or employment in any nation.
The narrator is Gerard Gales, an American sailor who claims to be from
New Orleans, and who is stranded in Antwerp without passport or working
papers. Unable to prove his identity or his eligibility for employment,
Gales is repeatedly arrested and deported from one country to the next,
by government officials who do not want to be bothered with either assisting
or prosecuting him. When he finally manages to find work, it is on the
Yorikke, the dangerous and decrepit ship of the title, where undocumented
workers from around the world are treated as expendable slaves. The term "death
to any boat so decrepit that it is worth more to its owners overinsured
and sunk than it would be
worth afloat. Due to its scathing criticism of bureaucratic authority,
nationalism, and abusive labor practices, The Death Ship is often described
as an anarchist novel. From Wikipedia.
Detroit Tales — Jim Ray Daniels, Jim Daniels. Michigan short stories.
Dharma Bums — Jack Kerouac.
Dickens And Empire: Discourses Of Class, Race And Colonialism In The Works Of Charles Dickens (Nineteenth Century) — Grace Moore.
Digger's Blues — Jim Daniels. American poetry chapbook.
Dirty Work — Larry Brown. "...Braiden Chaney has no arms or legs. Walter James has no face. They lost them in Vietnam, along with other, more vital parts of themselves. Now, twenty-two years later, these two Mississippians -- one black, the other white -- lie in adjoining beds in a V.A. hospital. In the course of one long night they tell each other how they came to be what they are and what they can only dream of becoming. Their stories, recounted in voices as distinct and indelible as those of Faulkner, add up to the story of the war itself, and make 'Dirty Work' the most devastating novel of its kind since Dalton Trumbo's Johnny got his gun."
The Disinherited — Jack Conroy. (1963)
Disposable American : Layoffs and Their Consequences (06 Edition) — Louis Uchitelle. The Disposable American is an eye-opening account of layoffs in America — their questionable necessity, their overuse, and their devastating impact on individuals at all income levels. Yet despite all this, they are accelerating.
The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia — Ursula K. Le Guin.
Distinctions of Class — Anita Burgh.
The Dodo Bird — Manny Fried. A play that "brings union and working class life into the arts." -Les Fiedler
The Dogs of March — Ernest Hebert. The story of a middle-aged mill worker who loses his job when the shop closes. For more Hebert novels, see Wikipedia.
The Dollmaker — Harriette Arnow. (1972) Appalachian migrants in wartime Detroit from a woman's perspective.
Dona Flor and her Two Husbands — Jorge Amado. About the poor urban black and mulatto communities of Bahia. See Wikipedia.
Down and Out in Paris and London — George Orwell.
Downsize This! — Michael Moore. Hardhitting and satirical essays on hard-pressed American workers, economic conditions, and political policies.
The Drinking Den — Ãmile Zola (Author), Robin Buss. "Incredibly interesting descriptions of people and Paris."
Drop Hammer — Manny Fried. A labor play.
The Economics of Gender and Mental Illness — D. E. Marcotte. While gender has so often been found to be an important determinant of prevalence and outcomes of mental illness, economists have rarely focused on gender differences as a central element of their analyses. In this volume, we direct the focus of research in the economics of mental health squarely on the topic of gender. Each paper in this volume provides insight into the ways in which women and men are afflicted and affected by mental illness in the labor market.
Educating Our Masters: Influences on the Growth of Literacy in Victorian Working Class Children — Alec Ellis.
Eighteenth-Century English Labouring-Class Poets: 1700-1800 — John Goodridge.
Empire Falls — Richard Russo. A tale of blue-collar life, which itself increasingly resembles a kind of high-wire act performed without the benefit of any middle-class safety nets.
The End Of The Class War — Catherine Brady. The 14 interlinked stories in this moving collection are beautifully crafted snapshots of Irish immigrants to American cities (Chicago, San Francisco) in 1950. "It's no mercy... seeing into the insides of things, into the secret ways by which the bones absorb shock and mend themselves..." but Brady does it with compassion and joy. Her short fictions capture critical moments in the lives of the working-class women who absorb shocks, mend, go on.
Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-or-Less Gay Life — Wendell Ricketts (Editor). Fascinating, diverse and refreshingly unique short fiction anthology blows apart many of the tired stereotypes of gay men that persist in Western culture. The struggling protagonists of these stories are acutely aware, not only of their place in the social strata, but of their status as outsiders. They sometimes remark on more privileged men that surround them with frustration and contempt. But even though their working class origins are plainly evident most of them occupy an uncomfortable grey area in between the two worlds, for it is with an equal degree of detachment they regard their own families and the environments they grew up in. Fathers are often belching, farting brutes firmly planted in front of the TV with beers in hand, while mothers are ineffectual, chain smoking, church-ladies. The (central) characters refuse to be pigeonholed. They come across as living, breathing individuals and thus are the strong suit in most of the stories.
The Exploited Child — Bernard Schlemmer. This investigation of child labor explores difficult conceptual and public policy issues. It demonstrates the sheer prevalence of the commercial exploitation of child labor in both industrial and developing countries, and its rapid growth today under the twin pressures of mass poverty and the globalized marketplace for labor. In addition to its rich empirical material from countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe, the author makes a clear distinction between the socialization of children through labor within the family and their economic exploitation for profit. It also focuses on the role of adults with responsibility for children, and the specific form which paternal domination takes towards children.
Factory Girl: Ellen Johnston And Working-class Poetry In Victorian Scotland (Scottish Studies International, Vol. 23) — H. Gustav Klaus. The first critical biography of the Glaswegian writer who signed her poems as The Factory Girl. An essay in recovery and exploration, situating Ellen Johnston at the intersection of gender, class and nation. Documents her range of subjects, styles and voices. The book is concluded by a selection of Ellen Johnston's verse.
The Factory Girl and the Seamstress: Imagining Gender and Class in Nineteenth Century American Fiction (Garland Studies in American Popular History and Culture) — Amal Amireh. Studies the representations of working-class women in canonical and popular American fiction between 1820 and 1870. These representations have been invisible in nineteenth century American literary and cultural studies due to the general view that antebellum writers did not engage with their society's economic and social relaities. Against this view and to highlight the cultural importance of working-class women, this study argues that, in responding to industrialization, middle class writers such as Melville, Hawthorne, Fern, Davies, and Phelps used the figures of the factory worker and the seamstress to express their anxieties about unstable gender and class identitites. These fictional representations were influenced by, and contributed to, an important but understudied cultural debate about wage labor, working women, and class.
Falling through the Earth : a memoir — Danielle Trussoni. The author of Falling through the Earth is as much a casualty of the Viet Nam war as was her father, Dan, who returned from that war as damaged goods, a man unable to show his wife and children that he loved them. Trussoni's benign neglect of his children forced them to grow up tough and able to solve their own problems because he was a firm follower of the old adage that "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Sadly, their situation shows clearly how the crippling aftereffects of combat can be so easily passed on from one generation to the next.
Family and the Scottish Working-Class Novel, 1984-1994: A Study of Novels by Janice Galloway ... Et Al (Scottish Studies International, Vol. 29) — Horst Prillinger.
Fay — Larry Brown. The author writes about "the truly forgotten, the truly disenfranchised people of this country, the impoverished and working class white Americans of the South and Appalachia." Fay is "a beautiful 17-year-old woman, walking out of the hills of Mississippi, escaping the horror of attempted sexual abuse by her father, a migrant farm worker with a penchant for drink, bad judgment, and wife beating. FAY has only a vague idea about where she is going, having had almost no schooling. She only knows that wherever she is going can be no worse than what she is leaving. And as Brown reveals her home life, piece by piece, the reader is left with the same conclusion."
Fictions of Labor: William Faulkner and the South's Long Revolution (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture) — Richard Godden. A persuasive account of the ways in which Faulkner’s work rests on deeply submerged anxieties about the legacy of violently coercive labour relations in the American South.
Fire in Our Hearts: A Study of the Portrayal of Youth in a Selection of Post-War British Working-Class Fiction (Gothenburg Studies in English, 51) — Ronald Paul.
Florida's Farmworkers in the Twenty-First Century (Florida History and Culture) — Nano Riley. In a book that combines both oral history and documentary photography, Nano Riley and Davida Johns tell the story of Florida's farmworkers in the 21st century. Largely ignored by mainstream America, migrant laborers often toil under adverse labor and living conditions to provide the nation's food supply. Intimate photographs and lucid text offer a look not only into the difficulties faced by these laborers but also into the rich cultural heritages of their communities and the close ties of their family life. Until now, most publications on migrant farm labor focused on California or the Southeast in general, offering little information on conditions particular to farmworkers in Florida. Florida's Farmworkers focuses on the history of Florida agriculture, the unique climate, ecology, crops, and working conditions that distinguish the situation of Florida's farm laborers from those in other states. Organized thematically, the book explores the issues facing these migrant workers, who are largely Hispanic, Haitian, and from other regions of the Caribbean. Among the issues addressed are low wages, children's problems, education, substandard living conditions, health, pesticide exposure, and immigrant smuggling. Riley and Johns draw attention to a labor system greatly in need of reform.
For a Living: THE POETRY OF WORK — Nicholas Coles. Substantial collection surveys many different kinds and styles of laboring in poems... not just work but "nonindustrial" work, that of a short-order cook, a woman giving birth, a baseball coach, even a scholar in pursuit of tenure.
For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-95 (Working Class in American History) — Clark D. Halker.
The Foundry — Albert Halper. (1934)
Front Lines — Jack Hirschman. Poetry. "Jack is a revolutionary whose poetic imagery, as well as his politics, are born of the heart--born of knowing the full capacity of the human spirit... He uses the art of poetry as the greatest artisans of language do; respectful, knowing his craft, while sharing the wisdom that just might prod us toward creating a better world."
George Gissing, the Working Woman, And Urban Culture — Emma Liggins.
Germinal — Zola. Coal mining in France more than a century ago, as starving families rise up against greed.
Giants in the Earth — O.E. Rolvagg. The saga of Norwegian immigrant Per Hansa, his family, and fellow settlers in the Dakota prairie in the late 1800s. A tale of hard work and harsh landscapes, hopes and homesickness, isolation and utter dependence on nature's whims.
The Girls Are Coming — Peggie Carlson. In 1974, due to passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, Peggie Carlson was one of the first four women hired by Minnegasco for a non-secretarial position. On the job, she met men who were hostile, men who were helpful, and those who were simply confused to find women in their midst.
Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy — Barbara Ehrenreich. Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave third world countries to work in the homes, nurseries, and brothels of the first world. This broad-scale transfer of labor results in an odd displacement, in which the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones—easing a “care deficit” in rich countries, while creating one back home. Confronting a range of topics from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles, Global Woman offers an original look at a world increasingly shaped by mass migration and economic exchange.
Go East, Young Man: Sinclair Lewis on Class in America — Sinclair Lewis (Author), Sally E. Parry (Editor, Introduction). brand-new collection of Sinclair Lewis's prolific body of short fiction, focusing on the author's primary concerns: the issue of class, work and money in America.
Going for Coffee: Poetry on the Job — Tom Wayman. 93 authors of working class poetry representing a diverse spectrum of the labor market: paid or unpaid; assembly line workers, oil riggers, doctors, managers, teachers, farmers, housewives and more.
Grandsons: A Story of American Lives — Louis Adamic. See Wikipedia.
Granny @ Work : Aging and New Technology on the
Job in America (04 Edition) — Karen E. Riggs. The advancing
age of Baby Boomers has generated an upsurge of older workers. And
as this aging workforce encounters radical technological changes, it
faces increasingly tumultuous work environments.
Granny D: You're Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell — Doris Haddock (Author), Dennis Burke (Author), Bill Moyers (Foreword). Doris Haddock raised her family during the Great Depression, and worked in a shoe factory for twenty years. She has spent 45 years of her life changing the things that are wrong. "In 2003 and 2004, she embarked on a 23,000 mile tour of the 'swing states', encouraging women and the residents of poor neighborhoods to register to vote. She walked through housing projects considered too dangerous to visit by many, and registering voters all along her way." --from the Granny D website. In 2007, she is 97 years old and not just active, but acting for change.
Grapes of Wrath — John Steinbeck.
The Great Midland (Radical Novel Reconsidered) — Alexander Saxton. Ignored by its publisher and the public (except by federal agents) when it was first published in 1948, "The Great Midland" will still be avoided by those who think it's no more than a novel by a Communist writer about Communists laborers. That would be shame, since the book is far more nuanced than the usual agitprop from the era. While several of the main characters are indeed Communist "agitators", the book is a multigenerational saga about American labor, racial strife, and ethnic communities. And it's an atypically realistic love story. The plot of "The Great Midland" frequently recalls Steinbeck's early labor novels; Saxton slyly quotes both the "in dubious battle" passage from "Paradise Lost" and "grapes of wrath" stanza from the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." In Saxton's book, activists (some Communist, some not) struggle to organize Chicago railroad labor against both the callousness of the corporate structure, the hostility of law enforcement, and the unresponsiveness of the union. Unlike most novels at either end of the political spectrum (such as the pro-capitalist manifestos of Ayn Rand or the pro-labor sermonizing of "In Dubious Battle"), "The Great Midland" does not offer easy answers, and it does not portray its many heroes, Communist or not, as faultless. Saxton's characters have very human failings, they often bring their own bad luck on themselves, and the path to the utopia they envision is fraught with danger, dashed hopes, and the potential for abuse. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the bosses or the police, whose menace approaches caricature and whose motives or personal lives are never explored.
Growing Up Poor — a literary anthology — edited by Robert Coles (Children of Crisis) and Randy Testa. Selected writers whose work gives a real sense of what it means to be alive and poor in America.
Gunsmith's Boy — Seth Philips.
Hands: Physical Labor, Class, and Cultural Work — Janet Zandy. Demonstrates through examples of working-class literature, as well as other writings and art, how work-related injuries "collectively attest to untold stories of labor." Research that repeatedly shows, "The cause of death was not an unforeseen natural catastrophe, but rather unsafe working conditions where profits took precedence over human lives." Nearly 11,000 workers are treated in emergency rooms each day, with about 200 of these workers hospitalized. Each day, thousands of employees require time away from their jobs to recuperate, while 15 workers die from their injuries, and another 134 die from work-related diseases. Zandy also identifies some basic characteristics of working-class texts. At the center of these texts is the living experience of the workers, as represented by the working class. A working-class text "recognizes and resists the transformation of the human I/we into an it—a thing, a commodity, a working unit, a disembodied hand." Beyond affirming the working-class experience, these texts help recover "submerged labor histories," according to the author. The genre defies traditional structure and form, challenging dominant assumptions about aesthetics. Another common element of working-class writings, according to Zandy, is class consciousness, with many working-class writers taking sides in their writing. "Their words offer hope and model struggle." All of these characteristics are offered as an empirical framework for discussion, rather than a strict definition. The author does not hide her political views, which are shared by many worker writers—the language of class oppression and labor exploitation permeate much of this work. Zandy sees a "historicity of class experience being inseparable from an understanding of working-class literature."
The Harbor — Ernest Poole. (1915)
Haymarket: A Novel — Martin Duberman.
The Haymarket Tragedy — Paul Avrich.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter — by Carson McCullers. The story of five isolated, lonely people, in a sleepy Southern town, who come together in their search for expression and spiritual integration with something greater than themselves: John Singer, a deaf mute who moves into the Kelly family boarding house; Mick Kelly, a thirteen-year-old tomboy who dreams of a life in music; Biff Brannon, a café owner and recent widower; Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland, the only black doctor in town; Jake Blount, a ne'er-do-well who is torn apart by awareness of the injustices perpetrated around him every day, but feels helpless and impotent.
Heart, Home & Hard Hats — Sue Doro. Poetry.
Henry Poulaille And Proletarian Literature (1920-1939). — Rosemary Chapman.
Hidden Hands: Working-Class Women & Victorian Social-Problem Fiction — Patricia E. Johnson.
Homage to Catalonia — George Orwell.
How to Tell When You're Tired: A Brief Examination of Work — Reg Theriault. Covers factory jobs, time-and-motion studies, accidents and injuries on the job, black and white workers, slave and prison labor, unions that only add more management, and strikes versus job actions. Theriault argues that workers do the work and so are the most familiar with how it should be done. Industrial workers, he believes, are alienated from their work and are not helped by the adversarial stance of capital and labor. There's no point, he maintains, in maximizing efficiency and increasing productivity if the only result is a higher quota at the same pay. Decrying the "warlike tension" between workers and management that has existed since the onset of the industrial revolution, the author concludes, "in all work situations where the production process takes place at the expense and denial of human values, production suffers." "...simply superb--just the right combination of personal anecdote, philosophical reflection, sociological commentary, old-timer's wisdom, and humor."
Hue and Cry: Stories — James Alan McPherson. McPherson's characters -- gritty, jazzy, authentic, and pristinely rendered -- give voice to unheard struggles along the dividing lines of race and poverty in subtle, fluid prose that bears no trace of sentimentality, agenda, or apology.
Human Tradition in American Labor History (04 Edition) — Eric Arnesen. The Human Tradition in American Labor History is a comprehensive exploration of the American working class from the colonial period to the present. In marked contrast to most academic treatments of American labor, this book presents history through mini-biographical portraits of a diverse selection of workers. Focusing on the contributions of women and minorities and using the racial and ethnic diversity of America's working people as its starting point, The Human Tradition in American Labor History features the most up-to-date research into the experiences of American workers and labor activists in the broadest range of occupations and sectors of the economy. This book encompasses all aspects of American labor history and reveals the diversity of movements for social change, including unionism, labor politics, and race relations.
Identity in Transition: The Images of Working-Class Women in Social Prose of the Vormarz (North American Studies in Nineteenth-Century German Literature) — Helen G. Morris-Keitel.
Ideology and Discourse in Contemporary Working-Class Culture : Five Contemporary American Writers and Filmakers (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities) — Nora Ru Roberts (Author), Nora Ruth Roberts (Author).
I know why the caged bird sings — Maya Angelou. "Tells of the hardships she experienced in her youth, beginning with her parents' divorce when Angelou was only three years old. As a result of the divorce, Maya and her older brother are sent to live with their grandmother in a small, Arkansas town. Here, she experiences the horrors of racism and learns to hate herself for not being white. When she is eight, Maya goes to live with her mother in St. Louis. There, she is sexually abused by her mother's live-in boyfriend, and is emotionally scarred by the terrible experience. Finally, after Maya has become aware of racial prejudice and religious hypocrisy, she begins to find her voice. Maya's mother marries a man who proves to be a positive father figure, and the family moves to Los Angeles. Here, Maya spends her teenage years being defiant and getting herself into a lot of trouble. When she becomes pregnant in her senior year of high school, however, she gains the confidence to become a strong woman and a good mother to her child."
The Impact of Occupational Dislocation; The American Indian Labor Force at the Close of the Twentieth Century (Native Americans) — Patricia Kasari. This study broadens our knowledge of the relationship between occupational prestige, family composition, and migratory patterns of American Indians at the close of the twentieth century. Findings suggest that although many urban Indians work in fields that offer little prestige, reservation Indians are even more likely to have undesirable jobs, due primarily to low educational attainment, gender affiliation, and familial responsibilities.
In Dubious Battle — John Steinbeck. (1936)
Industrial Valley — Ruth McKenney. (1939)
The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (Yale Nota Bene) — Jonathan Rose.
The Iron Heel — Jack London. Dystopian and prescient novel of fascism.
Ironweed — William Kennedy. Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, has hit bottom. Years ago he left Albany in a hurry after killing a scab during a trolley workers' strike; he ran away again after accidentally — and fatally — dropping his infant son. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and present.
Israel Horovitz, Vol. II: New England Blue: 6 Plays of Working-Class Life (Contemporary American Playwrights) — Israel Horovitz. American playwright Horovitz has produced a distinguished body of work. These six loosely related plays (The Widow's Blind Date, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, Henry Lumper, North Shore Fish, Strong Man's Weak Child, and Unexpected Tenderness) are his most recent and among his best. They are full of fiercely accurate regional dialog and an overwhelming spirit of time and place. His main subject in these and other plays is life in the workplace, a record of the world of manual labor and its cost. His characters live dehumanized existences, sometimes rising above their travails and relieved only briefly by the warmth of human contact. Family, competition, labor, and environment test their strength and endurance.
I Stand Here Ironing — see Tell Me a Riddle.
I Was Marching — Meridel Le Sueur. Takes the reader into the heart of the 1934 Minneapolis strike. Short story included in many collections, including Salute to Spring and Ripening.
The Jacket —
James Hanley: Modernism and the Working Class — John Fordham.
Jarnegan — Jim Tully. (1926) The story of a he-man who kills a man in a fight, spends some time in jail, begins life anew on regaining freedom, drifts into Hollywood and becomes a successful movie director.
J.C. Prince and The Death of the Factory Child: A Study in Victorian Working Class Literature — B. E Maidment.
Jesus' Son : stories — Denis Johnson. Drug addiction.
Joe — Larry Brown. Author Brown writes about "poor Southern rednecks who exist from day to day, from hand to mouth, in tar-paper shacks and shabby mobile homes. Some are hard, mean and utterly lacking in moral fiber; others, such as the eponymous protagonist, try to live with integrity and dignity despite limited opportunities, despite the ingrained, ubiquitous habit of drinking prodigious amounts of beer and whiskey. Joe Ransom is almost 50, newly divorced, with bitter recollections of years spent in the pen for assaulting a police officer while drunk. A product of his time and place, Joe is reckless, self-destructive, hard-driving, hard-drinking, sometimes ruthless, but he is essentially kindhearted and decent. Joe manages a crew of black laborers who poison trees for a lumber company. When he gives a temporary job to teenage Gary Jones, part of a migratory family so destitute the boy has never seen a toothbrush or understood the significance of a traffic light, Joe is touched by the boy's dogged determination to work although Gary's alcoholic, vicious, amoral father takes the money as soon as Gary earns it. In his own laconic way Joe acts as mentor for Gary, until, in the novel's wrenching conclusion, fate and Joe's own stubborn morality wrench them apart."
Joe College — Tom Perrotta. Danny has survived his working-class adolescence and moved on to rarified air of early 1980s Yale. But he still spends his vacations back home in New Jersey, behind the wheel of his dad's lunch truck, pondering a complicated love life and dodging a gang of thugs bent on muscling their way into his dad's territory. A comic journey into the dark side of love, class, higher education, and food service.
The Jungle — Upton Sinclair. (1906) For nearly a century, the original version of Upton Sinclair's classic novel has remained almost entirely unknown. When it was published in serial form in 1905, it was a full third longer than the censored, commercial edition published in book form the following year. That expurgated commercial edition edited out much of the ethnic flavor of the original, as well as some of the goriest descriptions of the meat-packing industry and much of Sinclair's most pointed social and political commentary.
Kellogg's Six-Hour Day (Labor and Social Change) — Benjamin Hunnicutt. Documents the struggle of Kellogg's workers, mostly women, who fought to keep six-hour work shifts originally instituted during the Depression of the 1930s, and examines their part in the century-old vision of progressively shorter hours for all workers.
L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) — Émile Zola. The story of a woman's struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. It was a contemporary bestseller, outraged conservative critics, and launched a passionate debate about the legitimate scope of modern literature. At the centre of the novel stands Gervaise, who starts her own laundry and for a time makes a success of it. But her husband Coupeau squanders her earnings in the Assommoir, the local drinking shop, and gradually the pair sink into poverty and squalor. L'Assommoir is the most finely crafted of Zola's novels, and this new translation captures not only the brutality but also the pathos of its characters' lives. This book is a powerful indictment of nineteenth-century social conditions...
L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement — Ruth Milkman.
Labor Divided: Race and Ethnicity in United States Labor Struggles, 1835-1960 (Suny Series, American Labor History) — Robert Asher. An anthology on race, ethnicity and the history of American working- class struggles that gives substantial (and rare) attention to the experiences of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic workers as well as to workers from European backgrounds. The essays cover a time period of more than a century, and consider service workers as well as factory workers, women as well as men.
Labor's Canvas: American Working-Class History and the WPA Art of the 1930s — 40 illustrations. An unusual synthesis of art and working-class history, Labor’s Canvas argues that however simplified this golden age of American worker art appears from a post-modern perspective, The New Deal’s Federal Art Project (FAP), under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), revealed important tensions. Artists saw themselves as cultural workers who had much in common with the blue-collar workforce. Yet they struggled to reconcile social protest and aesthetic distance. Their canvases, prints, and drawings registered attitudes toward laborers as bodies without minds often shared by the wider culture. In choosing a visual language to reconnect workers to the larger society, they tried to tell the worker from the work with varying success. Drawing on a wealth of social documents and visual narratives, Labor’s Canvas engages in a bold revisionism. Hapke examines how FAP iconography both chronicles and reframes working-class history. She demonstrates how the New Deal’s artistically rendered workforce history reveals the cultural contradictions about laboring people evident even in the depths of the Great Depression, not the least in the imaginations of the FAP artists themselves. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2001.
Labor's Text: The Worker in American Fiction — Laura Hapke. Includes working class fiction.
Labor's Troubadour — Joe Glazer. Thje singer tells his tale simply and directly in Labor's Troubadour, published in 2001, by the University of Illinois Press, as part of its series "Music in American Life." The book is both a memoir and a chronicle of Glazer's life's work in the American Labor Movement from the 1940s up to the present day, and it also presents, quite keenly, the struggles of the labor force in the United States and abroad during the last half of the 20th century.
The Language Of Gender And Class: Transformation in the Victorian Novel — Patricia Ingham. The Language of Gender and Class challenges widely-held assumptions about the study of the Victorian novel. The author analyzes language as the framework for the concepts of gender and the formations of social class, specifically, how stereotypes of gender and class encode cultural myths that reinforce the status quo.
The Last of Her Kind — Sigrid Nunez. Nunez's ruthlessly observed portrait of countercultural America in the sixties and seventies opens in 1968, when two girls meet as roommates at Barnard College. Ann is rich and white and wants to be neither, confiding, "I wish I had been born poor"; Georgette has no illusions about poverty, having just escaped her depressed home town, where "whole families drank themselves to disgrace." Georgette finds Ann at once despicable and mesmerizing, and she's stunned — if not entirely surprised — when, years after the end of their friendship, Ann is arrested for killing a cop.
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men : Three Tenant Families — James Agee. Photojournalism. Alabama, depression era.
Liberating Memory: Our Work and Our Working-Class Consciousness — Janet Zandy. This is a book about working-class identity, consciousness, and self-determination. It offers an alternative to middle-class assimiliation and working-class amnesia. The twenty-five contributors use memory--both personal and collective--to show the relationship between the uncertain economic rhythms of working-class life and the possibilities for cultural and political agency. Manual labor and intellectual work are connected in these multicultural autobiographies of writers, educators, artists, political activists, musicians, and photographers and in the cultural work--the poems, stories, photographs, lectures, music--they produce. Illustrated with family snapshots, this collection--the first of its kind--includes the work of a female machinist who is also a poet, a secretary who is also a writer, a poet who worked on the assembly line, a musician who was also a red-diaper baby, and an academic who is recovering the working-class writing of her father. The consciousness that is revealed in this book makes evident the value of class identity to collective, democratic struggle.
Life in the Iron Mills — Rebecca Harding Davis. A short story by Rebecca Harding Davis set in the factory world of nineteenth century Wheeling, Virginia (now Wheeling, West Virginia), appeared anonymously in April 1861 in the Atlantic Monthly where it caused a literary sensation with its powerful naturalism that anticipated the work of Theodore Dreiser and Emile Zola. The story is emphatically on the side of the exploited industrial workers, who are presented as physically stunted and mentally dulled but fully human and capable of tragedy. From Wikipedia.
Lights and Shades of a Factory Village: A Tale of Lowell — Norton. "Secret incidents in the history of Lowell, Massachusetts."
Literature, Class, and Culture: An Anthology — Paul Lauter and Ann Fitzgerald. Achieves a balance between traditional and lesser-known writers. Presents canonical writers such as Herman Melville and William Faulkner, and more obscure authors such as Sue Doro and Tom Wayman. Covers various genres of writing including fiction, poetry, essays, speeches, autobiographies, and songs. Includes information on working-class authors. Appropriate for classroom use.
The Literature of Labour: Two Hundred Years of Working-Class Writing — H. Gustav Klaus.
The Literature of Labor and the Labors of Literature: Allegory in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture) — by Cindy Weinstein. This book juxtaposes representations of labor in fictional texts with representations of labor in nonfictional texts in order to trace the intersections between aesthetic and economic discourse in nineteenth-century America. This intersection is particularly evident in the debates about symbol and allegory, and Cindy Weinstein contends that allegory during this period was critiqued on precisely the same grounds as mechanized labor.
The Literature of Work: Short Stories, Essays, and Poems by Men and Women of Business — Sheila E. Murphy (Author), John G. Sperling (Author), John D. Murphy (Editor).
Little House in the Big Woods — Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House on the Prairie series.
Living My Life — Emma Goldman.
London Labour and the London Poor — Henry Mayhew (Author), Victor E. Neuburg (Author). originated in a series of articles, later published in four volumes, written for the Morning Chronicle in 1849 and 1850 when journalist Henry Mayhew was at the height of his career. Mayhew aimed simply to report the realities of the poor from a compassionate and practical outlook. This penetrating selection shows how well he succeeded: the underprivileged of London become extraordinarily and often shockingly alive.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (Contemporary Fiction, Plume) — Alan Sillitoe. Sillitoe's sympathy for the working class is best demonstrated in the title story, narrated by a teen resident of a reform school whose voice vibrates with rebellion. The youth shows a keen awareness of his position within England's rigid class structure and has made a conscious decision to resist those whom he says have "the whip hand" over him. Sillitoe reveals the motivation for his protagonist's attitude in an understated but memorable scene in which the youth remembers finding his laborer father dead, blood spilled out of his consumptive body. The reader sees the boy's perception that his father's life has been used up by the system. In the story's surprising final turn, the youth -- who has become a champion runner for his school -- attempts in his own way to turn the tables on that system.
Looking Backward — Edward Bellamy. Utopian.
Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Race and American Culture) — Eric Lott. Lott (American Studies/University of Virginia) brings a mass of obscure information and a multidisciplinary approach, interpreting the meaning of black-face minstrelsy to the white working classes who invented and performed it. The appropriation of black music, dance, humor, and narratives for commercial entertainment, says Lott, expressed the deep racial conflicts suffered by the white working classes, especially in the North in the decades before the Civil War. Their parodies reflected their admiration and contempt, their envy and fear, their remoteness and--as the economy changed--their impending identification with the dispossessed, whom they represented as absurd. In their imitation of blacks, and in the cross-dressing that minstrelsy required, whites males gained control over the alien and the threatening (especially black sexuality) and changed the way they experienced themselves as men. Lott's study ranges through folklore, history, sociology, politics, economics, psychoanalysis, theater history, popular music, even film theory, but it's based clearly on contemporary and technical studies of race, gender, and class: The ``stars'' of minstrelsy, Lott says, ``inaugurated an American tradition of class abdication through gendered cross-racial immersion.'' In the course of his analysis, Lott places Huckleberry Finn, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the music of Stephen Foster in new and interesting perspective, and reveals the significance of an art form, a ritual, that has fallen into neglect after a period of universal popularity.
Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918 — Ellen Ross. An academic book, exceptionally well researched, but also exquisitely well written and accessible. This book shows how motherhood is socially constructed, in this case by class as well as by era. But it also shows how central mothering in all its aspects (earning and spending and caring and negotiating) was to survivial among the working poor in industrializing England.
The Lowell Offering : Writings by New England Mill Women (1840-1845) —
The Magic of Blood — Dagoberto Gilb. Plain-spoken stories take readers to construction sites and cheap rentals where chronically underemployed, necessarily mobile, struggling yet optimistic Texas Mexicans survive in an ungenerous world.
Making Steel — Mark Reutter. Making Steel chronicles the rise and fall of American steel by focusing on the fateful decisions made at the world's once largest steel mill at Sparrows Point, Maryland. Mark Reutter examines the business, production, and daily lives of workers as corporate leaders became more interested in their own security and enrichment than in employees, community, or innovative technology. This edition marks the return of a classic and features 26 pages of photos, a new preface, and afterword.
The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic — Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker.
A Man with No Talents: Memoirs of a Tokyo Day Laborer — Oyama Shiro (Author), Edward Fowler (Translator). In Tokyo's San'ya district, day laborers live in crowded, smelly bunkhouses (doya) and rise early each morning to visit the San'ya Welfare Recruiting Office, where the competition is fierce for backbreaking work that pays paltry wages. Oyama (a pseudonym), a college graduate who dropped out of the corporate world at age 40, lived in San'ya for 12 years, six of them during the 1980s "bubble economy" and six after its collapse. At some point, he began writing down his experiences, and submitted his manuscript to a competition "as a lark." He won, but declined to attend the award ceremony, and continues to live on the streets of Tokyo, albeit in a different neighborhood. He has a self-described "inability to interact with other people," and translator Fowler acknowledges that even among day laborers, Oyama is particularly eccentric. But the narrative here is generally strong and engaging. To those interested in Japanese culture, this book will surely be an intriguing look at an obscure aspect of the culture.
Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In (Reencounters With Colonialism--New Perspectives on the Americas) — C. L. R. James. Rather than see Ahab and Ishmael as representing respectively "totalitarian" and "American" cultural themes as critics in the 1950's saw it, James offers a vison focused on the Pequod and its crew. A view in which the MARINERS, RENEGADES & CASTAWAYS of the ship were at the mercy of their Captain. In James' interpretaion the Pequod is a factory ship and the crew are the workers. Ahab is no longer a mere sailor but is now illustrative of a "Captain of industry." -Michaeleve.
Masculinity and the English Working Class in Victorian Autobiography and Fiction (Literary Criticism & Cultural Theory) — Ying S. Lee.
Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working Class Culture (The Haymarket Series) — Michael Denning (Author), Michael Sprinker (Author).
The Member of the Wedding — Carson McCullers. Twelve-year-old Frankie falls in love with her brother's wedding, convinced that her brother's honeymoon will be the start of her new and exciting life of world travel and inevitable fame. A coming-of-age story full of long summer afternoons and the shocking juxtapositions of puberty.
Memoirs of a Surrey Labourer (Working Class Biography) — George Sturt.
Men Working — John Faulkner (Author), Trent Watts (Introduction). : A novel.
Mid-Atlantic — Taffrail.
The Middle Sister: A Novel — Bonnie Glover.
Migrant Farmworkers: Hoping for a Better Life (Proud Heritage: The Hispanic Library) — Deborah Kent. Planting and harvesting crops is backbreaking labor that can take its toll on the strongest of workers. Migrant Farmworkers: Hoping for a Better Life introduces kids to the history and struggle of the many men, women, and children of Hispanic heritage who travel the United States in search of work and a better life for future generations.
Migration & the International Labour Market, 1850-1939 — Tim Hatton. "Migration and the International Labour Market 1850-1939" concentrates on the two central aspects of international migration--the forces which cause it and its economic effect. The contributors are drawn from a wide range of countries representing both the underdeveloped and the developed world, each of them examining and testing the validity of migration theories in a historical setting. In some cases migration is viewed from a comparative perspective--an approach which is facilitated by data on internationally comparable real wages. The authors also look at the responsiveness of migration from different countries, international wage differentials and the degree of international labor market integration. A number of chapters examine the impact of migration on real wage growth and economic convergence between original and destination countries--issues which remain at the heart of debates over international migration policy.
Milldust and Roses: Memoirs — Larry Smith. A poetic but bittersweet account of growing up in an eastern Ohio steel mill town. The town's residents, like the residents of many Mahoning Valley communities, were a varied ethnic mix from eastern and southern Europe. . . . The first section, the most interesting of the book, deals with his life until his graduation. Though Smith is only 59, he writes about a world that is almost gone now, a world where small towns were still vibrant and alive.
The Misadventures of Jack the Builder — W.J.P. Holgar. Follow Jack as he lurches between crises. This character-packed situational comedy is a potent laughter tonic to brighten the dullest day.
Moby Dick — Herman Melville. Among other themes — revenge, racism, and politics — Moby Dick explores the nature of hierarchical relationships. For some, including C.L.R. James, the work of men in one industry during the mid-19th Century represents a working class relationship with their boss. The doomed ship Pequod, with its full whale-processing facilities, can serve as a symbol for the American factory system, with its workers being used perilously and brought to their untimely deaths, with a mad captain of industry at the helm. See Mariners, Renegades and Castaways.
Modern Times, Ancient Hours - Updated and Expanded (Rev) 03 Edition— Pietro Bassom. It is a commonly expressed view that the sickness of our society is unemployment. Less frequently argued is the fact that we are, at the same time, suffering from overwork. It is even more rare to hear that the two sicknesses, unemployment and overwork, feed off one another and jointly attack the working classes worldwide. In Modern Times, Ancient Hours Pietro Basso argues convincingly that the average working time of wage labourers is more intense, fast-paced, flexible, and longer than at any period in recent history. This is true, he posits, not only in industry and agriculture, but also, and particularly, in the service industry. In this comprehensive survey of all the Western countries, not just the US, he demonstrates that extraordinary work pressure is increasing throughout. The introduction of the thirty-five-hour working week in France notwithstanding, all the signs of a creeping deterioration in the working lives of millions of people are explored: a reduction in the purchasing power of wages, the mass downsizing of corporations, the continual erosion of company and state-ensured benefits, and finally the availability of much cheaper labour from Latin America, Asia, Africa and eastern Europe. The only sensible response is a renewal of the working-class struggle. Modern Times, Ancient Hours forcefully reminds us that the human aspiration to do work that does not break the body or the spirit is universal and deep-rooted. Workers will rise, Basso argues, if they continue to be pushed beyond their limits.
Monitoring Sweatshops: Workers, Consumers, and the Global Apparel Industry — Jill Louise Esbenshade. Monitoring Sweatshops offers the first comprehensive assessment of efforts to address and improve conditions in garment factories. The author describes the government's efforts to persuade retailers and clothing companies to participate in private monitoring programs. She shows the different approaches firms have taken, and the range of monitors chosen, from large accounting companies to local non-profits. Esbenshade also shows how the efforts of the anti-sweatshop movement forced companies to employ monitors overseas, as well.
Moving Up or Moving on: Who Advances in the Low-Wage Labor Market? — Fredrik Andersson. Offers a compelling argument about how low-wage workers can achieve upward mobility, and how public policy can facilitate the process.
The Muses of Resistance: Laboring-Class Women's Poetry in Britain, 1739-1796 — Donna Landry. Donna Landry shows how an understanding of the remarkable but neglected careers of laboring-class women poets in the eighteenth century provokes a reassessment of our ideas concerning the literature of the period. Poets such as the washerwoman Mary Collier, the milkwoman Ann Yearsley, the domestic servants Mary Leapor and Elizabeth Hands, the dairywoman Jane Little, and the slave Phillis Wheatley can be seen employing various methods to adapt the conventions of polite verse for the purposes of social criticism. Historically important, technically impressive, and aesthetically innovative, the poetic achievements of these working class- women writers constitute an exciting literary discovery.
Music of the Mill — Luis J. Rodriguez. Focuses on diverse characters living, loving and just trying to get by in the L.A. barrios over a period of 60 years. Within the multigenerational saga of the Salcido family and its deep ties to the Nazareth Steel Mill, Rodriguez's main character is 20-year-old Johnny, a second-generation mill worker who tries to fight the abusive powers-that-be inside the operation's corporate and union hierarchies. The novel hums with intensity as Rodriguez passionately dramatizes the battle the mill's minority workers wage against the often-violent, KKK-aligned white mill workers in the 1970s.
The Naked and the Dead — Norman Mailer. A Pacific battleground of the Second World War, as seen through the eyes of a single platoon. Blighted by depression, divided by their parochialism and ethnicity, often callously used by their superiors — the survival of democracy nonetheless rests squarely on the shoulders of this generation of G.I.s., ordinary men called up for extraordinary duties.
Neighborhood Jobs, Race, and Skills: Urban Unemployment and Commuting (Garland Studies in the History of American Labor) — Daniel Immergluck. Examines the role of job proximity on neighborhood employment rates and the propensity of residents to work close to their own neighborhoods.
The New Ruthless Economy: Work and Power in the Digital Age (Century Foundation Books) — Simon Head. Simon Head points to information technology as the prime cause of growing wage disparity. Many economists, technologists and business consultants have predicted that IT would liberate the work force, bringing self-managed work teams and decentralized decision making. Head argues that the opposite has happened. Reengineering, a prime example of how business processes have been computerized, has instead simplified the work of middle and lower level employees, fenced them in with elaborate rules, and set up digital monitoring to make sure that the rules are obeyed. This is true even in such high-skill professions as medicine, where decision-making software in the hands of HMO's decides the length of a patient's stay in hospital and determines the treatments patients will or will not receive. Head argues that these computer systems devalue a worker's experience and skill, and subject employees to a degree of supervision which is excessive and demeaning. The harsh and often unstable work regime of reengineering also undermines the security of employees and so weakens their bargaining power in the workplace.
Nineteen Eighty-Four — George Orwell. Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, 1984. The story of one man's nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory.
The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez — John Rechy. Amalia Gomez awakens one day and looks out her window in the barrios of Los Angeles to see a silver cross in the sky--a sign from God. This Mexican-American woman is always looking for the brighter side of life, never wanting to face her real-life problems or those of her children, friends, or neighbors. From the early morning cross in the sky to Amalia's near murder at the end of the day, readers are given a glimpse of life in a decaying urban environment and see from Amalia's perspective the motivations and challenges of barrio life. Rechy, a Mexican-American author, presents a rich portrayal of Amalia in this readable and moving work, punctuating his work with Spanish dialog.
Next Upsurge : Labor and the New Social Movements (03 Edition) — Dan Clawson. The U.S. labor movement may be on the verge of massive growth, according to Dan Clawson. He argues that unions don't grow slowly and incrementally, but rather in bursts. Even if the AFL-CIO could organize twice as many members per year as it now does, it would take thirty years to return to the levels of union membership that existed when Ronald Reagan was elected president. In contrast, labor membership more than quadrupled in the years from 1934 to 1945. For there to be a new upsurge, Clawson asserts, labor must fuse with social movements concerned with race, gender, and global justice. The new forms may create a labor movement that breaks down the boundaries between "union" and "community" or between work and family issues. Clawson finds that this is already happening in some parts of the labor movement: labor has endorsed global justice and opposed war in Iraq, student activists combat sweatshops, unions struggle for immigrant rights. Innovative campaigns of this sort, Clawson shows, create new strategies--determined by workers rather than union organizers-that redefine the very meaning of the labor movement. "The Next Upsurge presents a range of examples from attempts to replace "macho" unions with more feminist models to campaigns linking labor and community issues and attempts to establish cross-border solidarity and a living wage.
The New Urban Immigrant Workforce: Innovative Models of Labor Organizing — Sarumathi Jayaraman and Immanuel Ness (eds).
Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America — Barbara Ehrenreich. The author worked undercover as a waitress in Florida, a housecleaner in Maine, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk in Minnesota to examine living conditions for the working poor. Reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and generosity.
Night-Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain — Butch Lee (Author), Red Rover (Author). “A book that should be read by anyone who gives a damn about a non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic future.” [Bo Brown]. “The transformation to a neo-colonial world has only begun, but it promises to be as dramatic, as disorienting a change as was the original european colonial conquest of the human race. Capitalism is again ripping apart and reconstructing the world, and nothing will be the same. Not race, not nation, not gender, and certainly not whatever culture you used to have.” [from the preface] Butch and Red break it down, how it all fits together, how to break it apart again.
Nothing in the World — Roy Kesey.
Now You See It… Stories from Cokesville, PA — Bathsheba Monk. Seventeen dark and hilarious interwoven short stories covering 40 years in the lives of the stories’ two main characters, Annie Kusiak and Theresa Gojuk, who vow as young girls to escape their dying rust belt town and reinvent themselves. http://www.bathshebamonk.com/
Off-Season City Pipe — Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Hedge Coke's reputation rests on her memoirs concerned with her Native American heritage, such as the searing and memorable Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer. Here she reveals another identity, as a poet of the American worker — "cracker-packin' girls" and "fieldworkers and framers like me" — in long-lined, conversational poems full of southern swing and storytelling zest. She captures the lives of people struggling, sometimes failing like the zoned-out man in the Mission District who needs a "Houdini mentality to stand," but also exulting in their strength, like the women who, "double-handed / popping apart plump green strings / fresh from leafy hills," can pint after pint of produce. Though informed by the history of Indian struggle, the poems are set more in the city than on the reservation, in places "the BIA forgot to watch." Anyone interested in the often silenced voices of America's working poor will appreciate these poems.
Of Mice & Men — John Steinbeck. Depression-era American fiction.
Olly's World — Edward Bond. This play opens in a small, working-class apartment in London, where Mike tries to communicate with his teenage daughter, Sheila. She remains entirely unresponsive, and ultimately Mike commits an extreme act which lands him in prison. Once there, Mike attempts to understand his behavior, journeying first to the brink of self-destruction, then to reconciliation and redemption. Meanwhile Sheila's former boyfriend Frank, now a policeman, sets out to take vengeance on Mike. They find Olly, a young criminal, who becomes the pawn in Mike's search for justice and Frank's for revenge. Caught in an endless cycle of violence and retribution, slaves to a system that grinds them down, the men and women of Olly’s Prison strive to create a world of order and humanity amidst a society of brutality and chaos.
On the Line — Harvey Swados. (1990) Fictional sketches of automobile assembly-line workers.
Other Women: The Writing of Class, Race, and Gender, 1832-1898 — Anita Levy. Exposes certain forms of middle-class power that have been taken for granted as "common sense" and "laws of nature." Joining an emergent tradition of cultural historians who draw on Gramsci and Foucault, she shows how middle-class hegemony in the nineteenth century depended on notions of gender to legitimize a culture-specific and class-specific definition of the right and wrong ways of being human. The author examines not only domestic fiction, particularly Emily Bront's Wuthering Heights, but also nineteenth-century works of the human sciences, including sociological tracts, anthropological treatises, medical texts, and psychological studies. She finds that British intellectuals of the period produced gendered standards of behavior that did not so much subordinate women to men as they authorized the social class whose women met norms of "appropriate" behavior: this class was considered to be peculiarly fit to care for other social and cultural groups whose women were "improperly" gendered. When Levy reads fiction against the social sciences, she demonstrates that the history of fiction cannot be understood apart from the history of the human sciences. Both fiction and science share common narrative strategies for representing the "essential" female and "other women"--the prostitute, the "primitive," and the madwoman. Only fiction, however, represented these strategies in an idiom of everyday life that verified "theory" and "science."
Our Common Dwelling: Henry Thoreau, Transcendentalism, and the Class Politics of Nature — Lance Newman. When the New England Transcendentalists spiritualized nature, they were reacting to intense class conflict in the region's industrializing cities. Their goal was to find a secular foundation for their social authority as an intellectual elite. Our Common Dwelling engages with works by William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. The works of these great authors, interpreted in historical context, show that both environmental exploitation and conscious love of nature co-evolved as part of the historical development of American capitalism.
Out of the Furnace — Thomas Bell. (1976) A Slovak-Hungarian immigrant family (three generations who worked in the steelmills in Braddock - PA. Bell based this book on the immigrant experiences of his own family. He tells the story not just of this immigrant family but of the process of unionization of the steel industry.
The Oxford Book of Work — Reference and anthology.
Parable of the Sower — Octavia Butler.
People From the Backwoods: A novel (The Working class in Soviet literature) — Aleksandr Malyshkin.
Philadelphia Fire — John Edgar Wideman.
Pioneering: Poems from the Construction Site — Susan Eisenberg. "The poems speak with a voice that is by turns dangerous and exhilarating, rich with metaphors and unrelentingly physical--much like construction work itself."
The Pittsburgh Cycle — August Wilson. Wilson's "Pittsburgh Cycle" consists of ten plays—nine of which are set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, an African-American neighorhood that takes on a mythic literary significance. The plays are each set in a different decade and aim to sketch the Black experience in the 20th century. See Wikipedia.
Places/Everyone — Jim Daniels. Brittingham Prize in Poetry.
Pocket Monologues: Working-Class Characters for Women — Susan Pomerance.
The Politics of Turmoil; Essays on Poverty, Race, and the Urban Crisis — Richard A. Cloward.
The Politics of Whiteness — Michelle Brattain. Brattain (history, Georgia State U.) examines the textile industry in Rome, Georgia from the 1930s to the 1970s, and finds that white workers there had considerable collective political and social power, and supported each other in working-class conservative activism against civil rights. She traces how the textile industry offered one of the few alternatives to agricultural work for the working class in the South, how they protected their jobs more or less collectively. She also describes how labor unions both hit and missed the mark amongst whites during the Depression and after World War II, and how Rome eventually went Republican in the face of civil rights.
Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail — Richard A. Cloward. Have the poor fared best by participating in conventional electoral politics or by engaging in mass defiance and disruption? The authors of the classic Regulating The Poor assess the successes and failures of these two strategies as they examine, in this provocative study, four protest movements of lower-class groups in 20th century America: -- The mobilization of the unemployed during the Great Depression that gave rise to the Workers' Alliance of America -- The industrial strikes that resulted in the formation of the CIO -- The Southern Civil Rights Movement -- The movement of welfare recipients led by the National Welfare Rights Organization.
Poor Workers' Unions : Rebuilding Labor From Below (05 Edition) — Vanessa Tait. "While the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions desperately try to figure out how to rebuild and energize the labor movement, this exceptional book reveals that poor workers have been showing the way for the past forty years. Utilizing original documents, Tait examines . . . a wide range of movements organized by poor workers to improve their circumstances and build a more just society, including the Revolutionary Union Movement, the National Welfare Rights Organization, ACORN's Unite Labor Unions, workfare unions, and independent workers'centers. She demonstrates that these movements were founded and developed upon principles of rank-and-file control, democracy, community involvement, and solidarity and aimed to improve all aspects of workers' lives. . . . Both labor activists and labor historians will learn much from this book."-Michael Yates
The Power of Privilege — Joseph Soares. Not about the working class, but rather an investigation of the elite privilege that reproduces the ruling class. Kim Martineau of the Hartford Courant has written about today's college admissions that, "...the system no longer screens out Jews but has done remarkably well at leaving the poor and working class outside the gates..."
The book The Power of Privilege "...clarifies the dynamics of elite reproduction, shows how privilege and social inequality are deeply embedded in institutions, and demonstrates the important role that meritocratic schools plays in society.” —Judith Blau
PRIVATE HICKS — Albert Maltz. One act play about a working-class soldier (National Guard) who refuses to shoot at strikers at an unnamed Midwest factory. A great short play with eight characters. (1935)
Punching Out — Jim Daniels. African American Life (Poetry, paperback).
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists — Robert Tressell. Set against the Free Trade Tariff Reform bills in a Sussex seaside town, early nineteen-hundreds.
A Raisin in the Sun — Lorraine Hansberry. The play debuted on Broadway in 1959. The story is based upon Hansberry's own experiences growing up in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, as well as the first play with a black director (Lloyd Richards) on Broadway. From Wikipedia.
Ramparts of Resistance: Why Workers Lost Their Power and How to Get It Back — by Sheila Cohen.
The Rat Pit (Working Class Biography) — Patrick MacGill. The Rat-Pit tells the tragic story of the struggle of Donegal girl, Norah Ryan against poverty in turn-of-the-century Glasgow. The book's appearance proved deeply divisive due to its fierce anticlericalism and unflinching portrayal of social conditions in the early years of the century. In the intervening years it has lost none of its power to shock. Published in 1915, Children of the Dead End was MacGill's autobiographical novel of his childhood in Ireland and later Scotland. The Rat Pit was a semisequel that told the story of protagonist Norah Ryan, who is forced into the harshest of lives. Both volumes reveal the poverty and oppression suffered by Irish immigrants in Britain and the near slave conditions in which they toiled as laborers.
The Ravenmaster's secret : escape from the Tower of London — Elvira Woodruff. Workmanlike, engaging story of the son of the ravenmaster of the Tower of London who becomes involved in caring for the daughter of a Scottish Rebel who is imprisoned there. He is forced to decide where his loyalties truly lie. A secondary story involves a ratcatcher's boy who becomes a chimney sweep. A good sense of period.
Rear View: Stories — Peter Duval (Author), Jay Parini (Introduction). Working-class characters struggling with their fates populate the monochromatic New England landscape of Duval's 12 stories. Often lapsed Catholics, they measure the bleakness of their existence against memories of better times.
Reading Lives: Working-Class Children and Literacy Learning (Language and Literacy Series) — Deborah Hicks.
A Rebecca Harding Davis Reader — Jean Pfaelzer. A selection of stories and nonfiction essays. Davis inherited the sentimental literary tradition (of the latter half of the 1800s) but nonetheless wrote "common stories" that "exposed the tension between sentimentalism, a genre predicated on the repression of the self, and realism, a genre predicated on the search for individual identity." Also see Life in the Iron Mills.
Regulating The Poor:
The Functions of Public Relief —
Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare —
Representations of Working Class Life, 1957-64 — Stuart Laing.
Return to Wigan — Clancy Sigal.
Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory — Kevin Murphy. The most thorough investigation to date of working-class life during the revolutionary era (1917).
Rewriting White: Race, Class, and Cultural Capital in Nineteenth-Century America — Todd Vogel. Looks at how America has racialized language and aesthetic achievement. To make his point, he showcases the surprisingly complex interactions between four nineteenth-century writers of color and the "standard white English" they adapted for their own moral, political, and social ends. The African American, Native American, and Chinese American writers Vogel discusses delivered their messages in a manner that simultaneously demonstrated their command of the dominant discourse of their times—using styles and addressing forums considered above their station—and fashioned a subversive meaning in the very act of that demonstration. The close readings and meticulous archival research in ReWriting White upend our conventional expectations, enrich our understanding of the dynamics of hegemony and cultural struggle, and contribute to the efforts of other cutting-edge contemporary scholars to chip away at the walls of racial segregation that have for too long defined and defaced the landscape of American literary and cultural studies.
The Rising of the Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict, 1880-1917 — Meredith Tax. Focusing on the socialist housewives, settlement workers, and left-wing feminists who were the main allies of working women between the 1880s and World War I, The Rising of the Women explores the successes and failures of the "united fronts" within which middle- and working-class American women worked together to improve social and economic conditions for female laborers. Through detailed studies of the Illinois Women's Alliance, the Woman's Trade Union League, the New York shirtwaist makers strike of 1909-10, and the 1912 textile workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Meredith Tax uncovers the circumstances that helped and hindered cross-class and cross-gender cooperation on behalf of women of the working class. In a new introduction to this first Illinois paperback edition, Tax assesses the progress of women's solidarity since the book's original publication.
Rivethead : Tales From the Assembly Line (91 Edition) — Ben Hamper. The man the Detroit Free Press calls "a blue collar Tom Wolfe" delivers a full-barreled blast of truth and gritty reality in Rivethead, a no-holds-barred journey through the belly of the American industrial beast.
River: A Novel (Working Class in Soviet Literature) — Leonid Leonov.
Rivington Street — Meredith Tax. (1982) See Union Square.
The Road to Wigan Pier — George Orwell. Orwell brings his unparalleled powers of observation to portray the wretched conditions of the working class... A first-person account of the lives of coal miners and others in the poor north of England. See Wikipedia.
Ruined City — Nevil Shute.
Sailors Of Cattaro — Friedrich Wolf. A play with a battleship setting that emphasized the need for centralized direction in a Communist organization.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning — Alan Sillitoe. A working class man in northern England, Sillitoe bring to life the way it used to be. Between cups of tea, Woodbines, too many pints for sobriety and a long list of ladies, our man Arthur spends his days in mindless bicycle manufacture and his nights forgetting it all. There is the smell of coal smoke in the winter air, the taste and crunch of fried bread and bacon, the scent of a woman and the hard reality of no exit. Arthur came from a family who had spent too many years on the dole, a situation now repreating itself in England. Prosperity was a full larder and an endless supply of cigarettes and new clothes. Sillitoe has captured it all in a book which still breathes the life he infused into it almost 40 years ago.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Time and the Working Classes — John Rule. Content unknown.
Scholars and Rebels in Nineteenth-Century Ireland [ILLUSTRATED] — Terry Eagleton. Account of Ireland's neglected "national" intellectuals, an extraordinary group, including such figures as Oscar Wilde's father William Wilde, Charles Lever, Samuel Ferguson, Isaac Butt, Sheridan Le Fanu. They formed a kind of Irish version of "Bloomsbury", but one composed, exceptionally, of scientists, mathematicians, economists, and lawyers, rather than preponderantly of artists and critics. Their work, much of it published in the pages of the Dublin University Magazine, was deeply caught up in networks of kinship, shared cultural interests and intersecting biographies in the outsized village of nineteenth-century Dublin. Eagleton explores the preoccupations of this remarkable community, in all its fascinating ferment and diversity, through the lens of Antonio Gramsci's definitions of "traditional" and "organic" intellectuals, and maps the nature of its relation to the Young Ireland movement, combining his account with some reflections on intellectual work in general and its place in political life.
Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart — Liza Featherstone. This book is about much more than one company's mistreatment of its employees. It is about the history of the female working poor, and the impossible situation facing America's low-wage women workers. Fifteen percent of American women hold the kind of jobs Barbara Ehrenreich described in Nickel and Dimed, and their lives are impacted by the combination of sexism, low-wage work and poverty that is so evident in the story of Dukes. In the ongoing welfare reform debate, we are often told that a job — any job — is the ticket out of poverty and welfare dependence. But in fact, as Featherstone shows, dead-end jobs like those at Wal-Mart actually sustain poverty. Drawing extensively on interviews with the plaintiffs, the book shows how sex-discrimination in employment contributes to keeping women poor. The work being done by Betty Dukes and other like her, to reform and unionize Wal-Mart, offers hope for the future, and Featherstone reveals the creative solutions workers around the country have found — like fighting for unions, living wage ordinances, and childcare options.
Sent For You Yesterday — John Edgar Wideman.
The Servant's Hand: English Fiction from Below — Bruce W. Robbins. examines the representation of servants in nineteenth-century British fiction. Wandering in the margins of these texts that are not about them, servants are visible only as anachronistic appendages to their masters and as functions of traditional narrative form. Yet their persistence, Robbins argues, signals more than the absence of the "ordinary people" they are taken to represent. Robbins's argument offers a new and distinctive approach to the literary analysis of class, while it also bodies forth a revisionist counterpolitics to the realist tradition from Homer to Virginia Woolf.
Sex Worker Union Organizing: An International Study — Gregor Gall. Sex Worker Union Organising is the first study of the emerging phenomenon of sex workers - prostitutes, exotic dancers such as lap dancers, porn models and actresses, and sex chatline workers - asserting that their economic activites are work and as such, they are entitled to workers' rights. The most developed instances of this struggle, in Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany The Netherlands, New Zealand and the US, have taken the form of unionisation. The book analyses the basis and contexts for this struggle and assesses the opportunities and challenges facing these unionisation projects.
Shakespeare's Attitude Toward the Working Classes — Ernest Howard Crosby. Interesting title, content unknown.
Show and Tell : new and selected poems — Jim Daniels.
Shut Up Shut Down — Mark Nowak. The deindustrialization of these rust-belt cities, and the resulting economic impact on workers' lives, is one of the recurring themes of Nowak's poetry. He splices together newspaper quotes, photographs, song lyrics, and numerous other artifacts, as well as his own words, to create a collage of class struggle. The influences he cites are more often musical--Afrika Bambaataa, Negativeland--than literary. His goal is to create a radical, working-class literature that will speak to people who don't normally attend academic conferences or scrutinize poetry journals.
Signed With Their Honour — James Aldridge. War in Greece and Crete or Cyprus.
Silences — Tillie Olsen. Explores the many ways the creative spirit, especially in those disadvantaged by gender, class and race, can be silenced. Olsen recounts the torments of Melville, the crushing weight of criticism on Thomas Hardy, the shame that brought Willa Cather to a dead halt, and struggles of Virginia Woolf, Olsen's heroine and greatest exemplar of a writer who confronted the forces that would silence her.
The Silent Majority: A study of the working class in post-war British fiction (Vision critical studies) — Nigel Gray.
Singlejack Solidarity (Critical American Studies Series) — Stan Weir. This volume collects 38 essays by rank and file labor activist and writer Weir (1921-2001). The essays describe his experiences as an activist in the longshore and automotive industries, explore labor and union culture, analyze the human costs of automation, consider the need and proper forms of working class networks, attack the concept of the "vanguard party," present a rank and file alternative to the business unionism of the AFL-CIO, and other issues of the history and future directions of labor.
Sin Patron: Stories from Argentina's Worker-Run Factories — the lavaca collective, foreword by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. The worker-run factories of Argentina offer an inspirational example of a struggle for social change that has achieved a real victory against corporate globalization.
Slaughterhouse Five — Kurt Vonnegut. (-)
Small Books and Pleasant Histories — by Margaret Spufford. Examines both the spread of reading ability, and one of the principal forms of cheap print available in the late seventeenth century at a price within the reach of the day labourer. Many historians, notably history of education specialists, had not realized the extent of elementary schooling and the consequent existence of a mass readership and a popular literature created especially for it before the Charity School movement.
So Long, See You Tomorrow — William Maxwell. American fiction, Illinois.
Sounder — William H. Armstrong.
The Space Merchants — Pohl & Kornbluth. (1953)
The Specialist — Sayles.
Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro — Barbara Foley. With the New Negro movement and the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s was a landmark decade in African American political and cultural history, characterized by an upsurge in racial awareness and artistic creativity. In Spectres of 1919 Barbara Foley traces the origins of this revolutionary era to the turbulent year 1919, identifying the events and trends in American society that spurred the black community to action and examining the forms that action took as it evolved. Unlike prior studies of the Harlem Renaissance, which see 1919 as significant mostly because of the geographic migrations of blacks to the North, Spectres of 1919 looks at that year as the political crucible in which the radicalism of the 1920s was forged. World War I and the Russian Revolution profoundly reshaped the American social landscape, with progressive reforms first halted and then reversed in the name of anti-Bolshevism. Dissent was stifled as labor activists and minority groups came under intense attack. Foley shows that African Americans had a significant relationship with the organized Left and that the New Negro movement's radical politics of race was also the politics of class.
The Spirit of Labor — Hutchins Hapgood. This non-fiction narrative is an entertaining look at labor struggles, anarchist politics, and proletarian culture in Chicago, the heart of the radical labor movement in the turn-of-the-century United States. Through the story of its central character, anarchist carpenter Anton Johannsen, The Spirit of Labor pulls the reader into a vibrant, gritty world inhabited by unionists and scabs, anarchists and socialists, hoboes and tramps, radical reformers, shady politicians and corrupt policemen, workers equipped with "ready fists and honest souls," and by business leaders bent on crushing the city's militant labor movement. The book also reflects the uncomfortable fit between the worlds of the bohemian intellectual and the radical worker.
The Stamp of Class: Reflections on Poetry and Social Class — Gary Lenhart. The essays in The Stamp of Class deal with the question of class as reflected in the works of Tracie Morris, Tillie Olsen, Melvin Tolson, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, and others. The work is rooted in the author's own experiences as a working-class poet and teacher and is the result of more than a decade of exploration.
The Star Rover — see The Jacket.
Starving Amidst Too Much & Other Iww Writings on the Food Industry — Peter (edt) Rachleff. This is a book about the irrepressible conflict between the poorly paid workers who actually feed the world and the parasitical multi-billionaire corporate powers that make the rules and graba the profits. Reproduced here are rare classic documents on the "food question" by four old-time members of the IWW. T-Bone Slim provides a detailed critique of the industry - chockful of penetrating insight and knckout black humor. Organizer L S Chumley portrays the horrid living and working conditions of hotel and restaurant workers circa 1918, stressing the need for workers' direct action. Wobbly troubadour Jim Semour, with his inspired saga of "The Dishwasher" reflects on the possibilities of a radically different diet. Jack Sheridan's fascinating 1959 survey of the role of food in ancient and modern civilization, especially in economic development, is also a crash-course in the materialist conception of history at its Wobbly soapboxer best. In his introduction, historian/activist Peter Rachleff traces the history of the food-workers' self-organization, and brings the book up to date with a look at current point-of-production struggles to break the haughty power of an ecocidal agribusiness and the union-busting fast-food chains. Plus a foreword by Carlos Cortez.
Steady Eddie: A Novel — T. Glen Coughlin. The poignant angst of a 1970s teenager who dreams of escaping his dead-end life and sailing off to Florida in his grandfather's fishing boat. Although the reader sympathizes with Eddie's struggles about whether he should flee the law, this gritty, melodramatic, Bukowski-like tale loses steam when it solves Eddie's problems with a feel-good ending.
Stevedore — Paul Peters & George Sklar. "Black and white workers should and could present a united front." Innocent black union organizer is accused of rape, then is railroaded because he insists on his rights. Propaganda gives way to rousing action.
STREET: Poems by Jim Daniels, Photographs by Charlee Brodsky — Jim Daniels (Author), Charlee Brodsky (Photographer). Photographs shot by Brodsky in the 1980s of people in Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, each accompanied by a poem written by Daniels that tells the imagined story of the person pictured.
The Struggle for the Health and Legal Protection of Farm Workers: El Cortito (Hispanic Civil Rights) — Maurice Jourdane. This book chronicles Jourdane's decade-long struggle to advocate for a state ban of the short hoe and his efforts to protect other civil and human rights of California field workers.
Studs Lonigan — James T. Farrell (Author), Ann Douglas (Introduction). Studs starts out his life full of vigor and ambition, qualities that are crushed by the Chicago youth's limited social and economic environment. Studs's swaggering and vicious comrades, his narrow family, and his educational and religious background lead him to a life of futile dissipation.
Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism
in the United States — Sharon Smith. Workers
in the United States have a rich tradition of fighting back and achieving
gains previously thought unthinkable, from the weekend, to health care,
to the right to even form a union.
Suburban Sweatshops : Fight for Immigrant Rights (05 Edition) — Jennifer Gordon. The author weaves together Latino immigrant life and legal activism to tell the unexpected tale of how the most vulnerable workers in society came together to demand fair wages, safe working conditions, and respect from employers. Immigrant workers--many undocumented--won a series of remarkable victories, including a raise of thirty percent for day laborers and a domestic workers' bill of rights. In the process, they transformed themselves into effective political participants. Gordon neither ignores the obstacles faced by such grassroots organizations nor underestimates their very real potential for fundamental change. This revelatory work challenges widely held beliefs about the powerlessness of immigrant workers, what a union should be, and what constitutes effective lawyering. It opens up exciting new possibilities for labor organizing, community building, participatory democracy, legal strategies, and social justice.
Superman: Red Son (a graphic novel) — Mark Millar. (2004)
Sweatshop: The History of an American Idea — Laura Hapke. Arguing that the sweatshop is as American as apple pie, Laura Hapke surveys over a century and a half of the language, verbal and pictorial, in which the sweatshop has been imagined and its stories told. Not seeking a formal definition of the sort that policymakers are concerned with, nor intending to provide a strict historical chronology, this unique book shows, rather, how the "real" sweatshop has become intertwined with the "invented" sweatshop of our national imagination, and how this mixture of rhetoric and myth has endowed American sweatshops with rich and complex cultural meaning. Hapke uncovers a wide variety of tales and images that writers, artists, social scientists, reformers, and workers themselves have told about "the shop." Adding an important perspective to historical and economic approaches, Sweatshop draws on sources from antebellum journalism, Progressive era surveys, modern movies, and anti-sweatshop websites. Illustrated chapters detail how the shop has been a facilitator of assimilation, a promoter of upward mobility, the epitome of exploitation, a site of ethnic memory, a venue for political protest, and an expression of twentieth-century managerial narratives. An important contribution to the real and imagined history of garment industry exploitation, this book provides a valuable new context for understanding contemporary sweatshops that now represent the worst expression of an unregulated global economy. Rutgers UP, 2004.
Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective — Daniel Bender. For over a century, the sweatshop has evoked outrage and moral repugnance. Once cast as a type of dangerous and immoral garment factory brought to American shores by European immigrants, today the sweatshop is reviled as emblematic of the abuses of an unregulated global economy. This collection unites some of the best recent work in the interdisciplinary field of "sweatshop studies." It examines changing understandings of the roots and problems of the sweatshop, and explores how the history of the American sweatshop is inexorably intertwined with global migration of capital, labor, ideas and goods. The American sweatshop may be located abroad but remains bound to the United States through ties of fashion, politics, labor and economics. The global character of the American sweatshop has presented a barrier to unionization and regulation. Anti-sweatshop campaigns have often focused on local organizing and national regulation while the sweatshop remains global. Thus, the epitaph for the sweatshop has frequently been written and re-written by unionists, reformers, activists and politicians. So, too, have they mourned its return.
Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory — Miriam Ching Louie. Showcases immigrant women workers speaking out for themselves, in their own words. While public outrage over sweatshops builds in intensity, this book shows us who these workers really are and how they are leading campaigns to fight for their rights. In-depth, accessible analyses of the immigration, labor, and trade policies, which together have forced these women into the most dangerous, poorly paid jobs.
The Syntax of Class: Writing Inequality in Nineteenth-Century America — Amy Schrager Lang. Explores the literary expression of the crisis of social classification that occupied U.S. public discourse in the wake of the European revolutions of 1848. Lacking a native language for expressing class differences, American writers struggled to find social taxonomies able to capture--and manage--increasingly apparent inequalities of wealth and power. As new social types emerged at midcentury and, with them, new narratives of success and failure, police and reformers alarmed the public with stories of the rise and proliferation of the "dangerous classes." At the same time, novelists as different as Maria Cummins, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frank Webb, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Horatio Alger Jr. focused their attention on dense engagements across the lines of class. Turning to the middle-class idea of "home" as a figure for social harmony and to the lexicons of race and gender in their effort to devise a syntax for the representation of class, these writers worked to solve the puzzle of inequity in their putatively classless nation. This study charts the kaleidoscopic substitution of terms through which they rendered class distinctions and follows these renderings as they circulated in and through a wider cultural discourse about the dangers of class conflict... A finely achieved study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century American fiction--and of its entanglements with the languages of race and gender.
Take My Word: Autobiographical Innovations of Ethnic American Working Women — Anne E. Goldman. Demonstrates that ethnic women can and do speak for themselves, even in the most unlikely contexts. Citing a wide variety of nontraditional texts--including the cookbooks of Nuevo Mexicanas, African American memoirs of midwifery and healing, and Jewish women's histories of the garment industry--Goldman illustrates how American women have asserted their ethnic identities and made their voices heard over and sometimes against the interests of publishers, editors, and readers. While the dominant culture has interpreted works of ethnic literature as representative of a people rather than an individual, the working women of this study insist upon their own agency in narrating rich and complicated self-portraits.
Talking to Strangers — Patricia Dobler. Britingham Prize in Poetry.
Tell Me a Riddle — Tillie Olsen. [This collection of four stories, "I Stand Here Ironing," "Hey Sailor, what Ship?," "O Yes," and "Tell me a Riddle," had become an American classic. Since the title novella won the O. Henry Award in 1961, the stories have been anthologized over a hundred times, made into three films, translated into thirteen languages, and - most important - once read, they abide in the hearts of their readers.] --publisher. In "I Stand Here Ironing," a working-class mother, as she is doing her family's ironing, muses about how her college-age daughter is deserving of a life of possibilities just as much as are the daughters of families of privilege. "Hey Sailor, What Ship" is the most powerful, concentrated portrayal of alcoholism... Excerpts of comments at Amazon: "...Tillie Olsen packs a lifetime of enforced silences into this slender work of art. These are dense and poetic evocations of Joyce and Woolf, but with an added proletarian knife-thrust to the heart..." "...stories that are so powerful, and so well-written, you'll want to read them again and again..."
Ten Days That Shook The World — John Reed.
The Tiger Rising — Kate DiCamillo. Includes a child whose mother has died, and a child whose parents have divorced. The children learn to let their "tigers" rise; to bring expression to their fears and losses; to bring about change in their lives, understanding that they must do so for themselves.
They Came Like Swallows — William Maxwell.
Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe. Traces the growing friction between village leaders and Europeans determined to save the heathen souls of Africa. But its hero, a noble man who is driven by destructive forces, speaks a universal tongue.
The 13th Valley — John DelVecchio. A Vietnam novel.
Toward a Working-Class Canon: Literary Criticism in British Working-Class Periodicals, 1816-1858 (Studies in Victorian Life and Literature) — Paul Thomas Murphy.
Tramps, Workmates and Revolutionaries: Working-Class Stories of the 1920s — H. Gustav Klaus (Editor).
Trash — Dorothy Allison. In 14 gritty, intimate stories, Allison's fictional persona exposes with poetic frankness the complexities of being "a cross-eyed working-class lesbian, addicted to violence, language, and hope," rebelling against the Southern "poor white trash" roots that inevitably define her. By the author of the National Book Award finalist Bastard Out of Carolina.
Tressell: The Real Story of 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' — Dave Harker.
Triangle — Katherine Weber. Different views exist about the Triangle Waist Factory fire. This novel explores the memories of a survivor and asks: who owns history and who decides how to tell its stories? Do we inevitably interpret history according to our own generation’s lenses? The novel invites and rewards careful reading, as revelation comes not in grandiose moments of high drama but through the slow accumulation of detail.
Triangle Factory Fire Project — Chris Piehler. A play. In the Triangle Waist Factory off downtown Manhattan’s Washington Square—where 500 immigrant workers from Poland, Russia and Italy toil fourteen-hour days making lady’s dresses—a cigarette is tossed into a bin of fabric scraps. Despite desperate efforts, flames sweep through the eighth, ninth and tenth floors. Panic-stricken workers run in all directions. On the ninth floor, some make it to the fire escape, only to have it collapse beneath their weight. Others run to the exit door but find it locked—many, including the soon-to-be-married Margaret Schwartz, die with their hands on the doorknob. Dozens leap from the windows to their deaths, shocking the crowd of onlookers gathered below. And some through bravery or sheer luck make it out alive. In the space of twenty-eight minutes, the fire is under control, but 146 people, mainly young immigrant girls, have died. THE TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT uses eyewitness accounts, court transcripts and other archival material to create a dramatic moment-by-moment account of this historic fire and the social upheaval that followed. (2005)
Triangle : the Fire that Changed America — Dave Von Drehle. Includes information from the long-lost transcript of the trial of the company's owner. The transcript included testimony from several dozen individuals associated with the incident.
Twentieth-Century Writing and the British Working Class — John Kirk. Drawing extensively on the theoretical insights of Raymond Williams and the British cultural studies tradition to challenge suggestions that class is no longer relevant for literary analysis, this book examines how the lives and experiences of working-class people have changed over the past century and how these changes have been depicted and explored in a range of fictional and nonfictional texts.
The Underdogs — Mariano Azuela. A first-hand description of combat during the Mexican revolution. See Wikipedia.
Union Dues: A Novel — John Sayles. The setting is Boston, Fall 1969. Radical groups plot revolution, runaway kids prowl the streets, cops are at their wits end, and work is hard to get, even for hookers. Hobie McNutt, a seventeen year old runaway from West Virginia drifts into a commune of young revolutionaries. It's a warm, dry place, and the girls are very available. But Hobie becomes involved in an increasingly vicious struggle for power in the group, and in the mounting violence of their political actions. His father Hunter, who has been involved in a brave and dangerous campaign to unseat a corrupt union president in the coal miners union, leaves West Virginia to hunt for his runaway son. To make ends meet, he takes day-labor jobs in order to survive while searching for him. Living parallel lives, their destinies ultimately movingly collide in this sprawling classic of radicalism across the generations, in the vein of Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, and Richard Price.
Union Square — Meredith Tax. Rivington Street follows the lives of four Jewish women on Manhattan's Lower East Side at the turn of the century as they encounter love, politics, and the working world. Union Square recounts the story of several women in the United States and Europe between the world wars. Originally released in 1982 and 1988, respectively, this duo is probably more for feminist readers.
Union Street & Blow Your House Down (two novels in one) — Pat Barker. "[Union Street]'s point is life, and how rich and hard it is, and the different ways people have of toughing it through the pain without being crushed." --Meredith Tax
The Unmaking of the American Working Class — Reg Theriault. Describes the blue-collar culture and ethics that have defined America, and explains why they are worth preserving in the face of globalization and downsizing. The Unmaking of the American Working Class tells the story behind the disappearance of blue-collar work in America, giving both a humorous picture of working-class labor and a devastating indictment of the forces that threaten it. Whether Republican or Democratic, every administration since World War II has fostered the destruction of large segments of the blue-collar working class. Theriault maintains that America is the poorer for such action, and argues that our society doesn’t need to destroy this vital part of itself. Written for all workers, whatever color their collars, The Unmaking of the American Working Class takes a fresh look at the politics of work and its place in our society.
Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England — Patricia Fumerton. Migrants made up a growing class of workers in late sixteenth- and seventeenth- century England. In fact, by 1650, half of England’s rural population consisted of homeless and itinerant laborers. Unsettled is an ambitious attempt to reconstruct the everyday lives of these dispossessed people. Patricia Fumerton offers an expansive portrait of unsettledness in early modern England that includes the homeless and housed alike. Fumerton begins by building on recent studies of vagrancy, poverty, and servants, placing all in the light of a new domestic economy of mobility. She then looks at representations of the vagrant in a variety of pamphlets and literature of the period. Since seamen were a particularly large and prominent class of mobile wage-laborers in the seventeenth century, Fumerton turns to seamen generally and to an individual poor seaman as a case study of the unsettled subject: Edward Barlow (b. 1642) provides a rare opportunity to see how the laboring poor fashioned themselves, for he authored a journal of over 225,000 words and 147 pages of drawings. Barlow’s journal, studied extensively here for the first time, vividly charts what he himself termed his “unsettled mind” and the perpetual anxieties of England’s working and wayfaring poor.
Up the Junction — Nell Dunn. A succ's de scandale when it was published in England in 1963, Up the Junction is a high-voltage, gorgeously visceral collection of portraits of working-class women's lives, finally restored to print. Nell Dunn's scenes of London life, as it was lived in the early Sixties in the industrial slums of Battersea, have few parallels in contemporary writing. The exuberant, uninhibited, disparate world she found in the tired old streets and under the railway arches is recaptured in these closely linked sketches; and the result is pure alchemy. In the space of 120 perfect pages, we witness clip-joint hustles, petty thieving, candid sexual encounters, casual birth and casual death. She has a superb gift for capturing colloquial speech and the characters observed in these pages convey that caustic, ironic, and compassionate feeling for life, in which a turn of phrase frequently contains startling flashes of poetry. Battersea, that teeming wasteland of brick south of the Thames, has found its poet in Nell Dunn and Up the Junction is her touchingly truthful and timeless testimonial to it.
U.S.A. — John Dos Passos. Epic trilogy of American life in the first half of the twentieth century. From the novel: "U.S.A. is the slice of a continent. U.S.A. is a group of holding companies, some aggregations of trade unions, a set of laws bound in calf, a radio network, a chain of moving picture theatres, a column of stock quotations rubbed out and written in by a Western Union boy on a blackboard, a public library full of old newspapers and dog-eared history books with protests scrawled on the margins in pencil. U.S.A. is the world's greatest river valley fringed with mountains and hills, U.S.A. is a set of bigmouthed officials with too many bank accounts. U.S.A. is a lot of men buried in their uniforms in Arlington Cemetery. U.S.A. is the letters at the end of an address when you are away from home. But mostly U.S.A. is the speech of the people."
The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life With Special Reference to Publications and Entertainments — Richard Hoggart.
Valley of the Moon — Jack London.
Vanishing Moments: Class and American Literature — Eric Schocket.
Victims of the latest dance craze : poems — Cornelius Eady. African-American.
The Victorian Working-Class Writer — Owen R. Ashton.
Voodoo Heart — Scott Snyder. Scott Snyder takes seemingly ordinary characters, gives them unique and slightly offbeat voices and then lets their actions transform them. Heartbreaking moments are interspersed with moments of profound transformation to give the collection a completeness that is often missing from short story collections.
The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class — David Roediger. Examines the growth and social construction of racism as it was related to the working classes of the ninteenth century. Explores how white workers (with an emphasis on Irish Americans) sought after a "wage" for their color, by placing on Black Americans the mantle of "other", objectifying and stratifying blacks into an object of prejudice and discrimination.
Waiting for Lefty — Clifford Odets. In this 1935 play by an American playwright, cab drivers are planning a labor strike.
Welfare, the Working Poor, and Labor — Louise B. Simmons. Since the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, it has become clear that the issues associated with welfare are now inextricably woven into the problems of low-wage work. This volume analyzes poverty and welfare reform within a context of low-wage work and the contours of the labor market that welfare recipients are entering. Given the new welfare regime of time limits and work requirements, problems of welfare cannot be separated from problems of work, politics, organizing, and other questions of social and economic policy. Although there have been many volumes on welfare reform, the unique contribution of this volume is that it brings labor into the discussion and creates a bridge between the domains of labor and welfare.
Well — Matthew McIntosh. An unusual, dark debut novel with an ensemble cast. McIntosh assembles different episodes and voices to create an impressionistic tableau of Federal Way, Washington, a blue-collar town facing the loss of blue-collar jobs and culture. McIntosh's characters are introduced in first-person testimonies and third-person sketches that build matter-of-factly and then trail off ambiguously, like entries in a police blotter-if the police blotter were written by Samuel Beckett. They lead lives of quiet despair, punctuated by bursts of violence, benders and bad sex. Physical pain harries many of the characters, madness others, and almost all are cursed with deteriorating personal relationships.
What Night Brings (Working Classics) — Carla Trujillo. This first novel by a Chicana writer who has been active as a lesbian anthologist and editor is a pleasant surprise: a lively, picaresque tale, told in the world-weary but ever-hopeful voice of 12-year-old Marci Cruz. Marci's father, Eddie, is a drinker and womanizer who often takes his belt or his fists to Marci and her sister, Corin, but whose wife, the besotted Delia, seems oblivious of his faults. Much of the tale embraces the ingenious ways in which Marci and Corin try to outwit him, or least make their mother see him for the passive-aggressive monster he is; perhaps the most delightful of these is the long saga of their attempt to photograph him, with a cheap box camera lent by a sympathetic uncle, in incriminating situations with his girlfriend. Through all this, Marci is also becoming increasingly aware that she is romantically drawn to other girls and wishes she could become a boy so as to express such feelings appropriately.
What We Hold In Common — Janet Zandy. Anthology. Janet Zandy brings together-in poetry, fiction, memoir, and song-the voices of working-class people throughout history, with a strong emphasis on the often overlooked voices of working-class women. Critical essays place working-class studies in perspective for teacher and student, as scholars in the field write about recovering autobiographies and oral histories, practicing working-class studies, and current and emerging texts and theories. Course syllabi and curriculum materials offer concrete strategies and resources for the classroom.
Where We Stand: Class Matters — Bell Hooks. Incisive examination of class rooted in cultural critic hooks's (All About Love) personal experience, political commitment, and social theory, which links gender, race, and class. Starting with her working-class childhood, the author illustrates how everyday interactions reproduce class hierarchy while simultaneously denying its existence. Because she sustains an unflinching gaze on both her own personal motivations and on persistent social structures, hooks provides a valuable framework for discussing such difficult and unexplored areas as greed, the quest to live simply, the ruling-class co-optation of youth through popular culture, and real estate speculation as an instrument of racism.
Women Adrift: Independent Wage Earners in Chicago, 1880-1930 (Women in Culture & Society) — Joanne J Meyerowitz. Starting with Dreiser's Sister Carrie, Meyerowitz uses turn-of-the-century Chicago as a case study to explore both the image and the reality of single women's experiences as they lived apart from their families. In an era when family all but defined American womanhood, these women--neither victimized nor liberated--created new social ties and subcultures to cope with the conditions of urban life.
Women in Labor: Mothers, Medicine, and Occupational Health in the United States, 1890-1980 (Women and Health: Cultural and Social Perspectives) — Allison L Hepler. Early in the twentieth century, states and courts began limiting the workplace hours of wage-earning women in order to protect them from fatigue and ill health. It was felt that a woman's role was to be a mother and that working too many hours in an often unhealthy and dangerous workplace created risks to the performance of that task. In the 1970s, many Fortune 500 companies began implementing "fetal protection policies" to prohibit women from working in areas deemed risky to reproductive capacity. Again, assumptions about motherhood were the driving force behind employment regulations. Women in Labor examines how gender norms affected the workplace health of men and women. Did the desire to protect women result in a safer workplace for all workers? Did it advance or hinder the status of women in the work-place? In answering these questions, Hepler describes a complex network of medical experts, state bureaucrats, business owners, social reformers, industrial engineers, workers, and feminists, many with overlapping interests and identities. This overlap often resulted in tradeoffs and unintended consequences. For instance, efforts promoting gender equality sometimes created equal risks for workers, whereas emphasizing social realities resulted in job discrimination. Reformists efforts to promote the important connection between the home and the industrial environment also allowed an employer to shirk responsibility for worker health. The issue of women in the workplace will remain crucial in the twenty-first century as workers worldwide struggle to create safer workplaces without sacrificing socioeconomic benefits or the health of women and their children.
The Women Incendiaries — Edith Thomas. The Women Incendiaries tells the inspirational story of women who played a leading role in the Paris Commune, one of history's greatest moments of social upheaval.
Women of the Light — June Guralnick. A play about female lighthouse keepers. "From 1776 to 1924, there were approximately 360 female lighthouse keepers and assistant keepers working in the United States. Many more women unofficially tended lighthouses with, or in place of, their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons."
Women on the Line — Ruth Cavendish. Cavindish is the pseudonym of an academic who spent a year working in an auto parts factory in England with mostly immigrant co-workers. This book is adapted from the diary she kept at the time. She writes about repetitive assembly line work, job discrimination, health, poverty, immigration, a work-site dispute over wages and bonus and the women she worked with.
Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894-1922 (Working Class in American History) — James R. Barrett.
Work and Politics (Cambridge Studies in Modern Political Economies) — Charles F Sabel. Work and Politics develops a historical and comparative sociology of workplace relations in industrial capitalist societies. Professor Sabel argues that the system of mass production using specialized machines and mostly unskilled workers was the result of the distribution of power and wealth in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Great Britain and the United States, not of an inexorable logic of technological advance. Once in place, this system created the need for workers with systematically different ideas about the acquisition of skill and the desirability of long-term employment. Professor Sabel shows how capitalists have played on naturally existing division in the workforce in order to match workers with diverse ambitions to jobs in different parts of the labor market. But he also demonstrates the limits, different from work group to work group, of these forms of collaboration.
Working — Studs Terkel. Chicago writer and radio host Studs Terkel has an amazing ability to draw stories out of people in his oral histories. A look at a wide variety of folks on the job."People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do."
Working Class Fiction (Writers and Their Work) — Ian Haywood. Chartism to Trainspotting.
Working Class Monologues — Roger Karshner.
Working-Class Stories of the 1890s — P. J Keating.
Working Class Zero — Rob Payne. Office thriller/humorous business novel has been done much better by other authors. Jay Thompson is in a job he hates and is having a bit of a mid life crisis wondering where the Rock'n'Roll career ambitions of his youth went and if he really loves his girlfriend or should sleep with the hot new temp. Jay has to deal with stuck up and unfair colleagues and management.
Working Classes in Victorian Fiction — P. J. Keating.
Working Poor : Invisible in America (04 Edition) — David K. Shipler. "Most of the people I write about in this book do not have the luxury of rage. They are caught in exhausting struggles. Their wages do not lift them far enough from poverty to improve their lives, and their lives, in turn, hold them back. The term by which they are usually described, 'working poor,' should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." — from the Introduction
A Working Stiff's Manifesto: Confessions of a Wage Slave — Iain Levison. Levison is a "modern-day Tom Joad" who, over the last decade, has worked 42 jobs in six different states, including mover, fish cutter, cook, caterer and cable TV thief. He recalls those jobs in this entertaining, unusual mix of autobiography and social commentary reminiscent of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Levison imagines himself a new breed of itinerant laborer a college graduate with a $40,000 English degree. His America is a desperate and brutal country, a place where you're hired with a promise of insurance after 90 days, then fired on the 89th; where criminals beat each other to a pulp in Alaska fisheries, and truckers make fraudulent entries in their logbooks in order to keep up with impossible schedules. But Levison's droll sense of humor eases him (and his readers) through the tough times; he recalls catering a party and bleeding into the guests' Merlot, expounds on the definition of "r sum " ("the French term for 'page full of bullshit' ") and proposes a new motto for Dutch Harbor, Alaska ("What fatal flaw in your character made you wind up here?"). As both a writer and an employee, Levison can come off as a trifle obnoxious some of his workplace misfortune he definitely brings on himself and he's mercilessly scornful of the corporate yes-men and unscrupulous characters he works with. Yet his moral vision more than makes up for it; he's a sharp-eyed, impassioned critic of the American workplace.
Working the Hard Side of the Street : Selected Stories, Poems, Screams — Kirk Alex. Contains forty-two prose poems and fifty-two "screams" and stories written from the gut; honest, hard-edged and, at times, explicit.
Working Classics: POEMS ON INDUSTRIAL LIFE — Peter Oresick (Editor), Nicholas Coles (Editor). So many foremen show so many workers how to do something "like this" in this book that after a while the phrase takes on a terrifying regularity, for these poems are about work: the hard, monotonous kind that changes people for the worse and makes ghosts of them. Almost all of these characters try to have a real life away from the job site, but they're never quite successful: one woman finds refuge in her partner's arms, but as she says, "big husband dead thirty years now." There are 169 poems here by 74 fine poets; one hopes at least a few bosses will read them. - David Kirby
Working Fictions: A Genealogy of the Victorian Novel (Post-Contemporary Interventions) — Carolyn Lesjak (Author), Carolyn Lesjak (Author). In this striking reconceptualization of Victorian literary history, Carolyn Lesjak interrogates the relationship between labor and pleasure, two concepts that were central to the Victorian imagination and the literary output of the era. Through the creation of a new genealogy of the “labor novel,” Lesjak challenges the prevailing assumption about the portrayal of work in Victorian fiction, namely that it disappears with the fall from prominence of the industrial novel. She proposes that the “problematic of labor” persists throughout the nineteenth century and continues to animate texts as diverse as Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, George Eliot’s Felix Holt and Daniel Deronda, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, and the essays and literary work of William Morris and Oscar Wilde. Lesjak demonstrates how the ideological work of the literature of the Victorian era, the “golden age of the novel,” revolved around separating the domains of labor and pleasure and emphasizing the latter as the proper realm of literary representation. She reveals how the utopian works of Morris and Wilde grapple with this divide and attempt to imagine new relationships between work and pleasure, relationships that might enable a future in which work is not the antithesis of pleasure. In Working Fictions, Lesjak argues for the contemporary relevance of the “labor novel,” suggesting that within its pages lie resources with which to confront the gulf between work and pleasure that continues to characterize our world today.
Working in America: A Humanities Reader — Robert Sessions (Author), Jack Wortman (Editor).
Working Life : the Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work (00 Edition) — Joanne B. Ciulla. Joanne B. Ciulla, a noted scholar in Leadership and Ethics, examines why so many people today have let their jobs take over their lives. Technology was supposed to free us from work, but instead we work longer hours-often tethered to the office at home by cell phones and e-mail. People still look to work for self-fulfillment, community, and identity, but these things may be increasingly difficult to find in today's workplace. Gone is the social contract where employees and employers shared a sense of mutual loyalty, yet many of us still sacrifice personal time for jobs that we could lose at the drop of a stock price. Tracing the evolution of the meaning of work from Aesop to Dilbert, and critically examining the past 100 years of management practices, Ciulla asks questions that we often willfully ignore at our own peril.
World, Class, Women: Global Literature, Education, and Feminism — Robin Truth Goodman. A path-breaking book which not only challenges the market-based attack on all things public, but also examines how theory and literature can be used to reclaim feminism, schooling, and economic justice as part of a broader effort in imagining a global democratic public sphere.
The Worlds End — series — middle class leftish history novel from about 1911 to the 1950s.
A World to Win (Radical Novel Reconsidered) — Jack Conroy.
Youth of Darkest England: Working-Class Children at the Heart of Victorian Empire (Children's Literature and Culture) — Troy Boone. Examines the representation of English working-class children-the youthful inhabitants of the poor urban neighborhoods that a number of writers dubbed "darkest England"-in Victorian and Edwardian imperialist literature. In particular, the book focuses on how the writings for and about youth undertook an ideological project to enlist working class children into the British imperial enterprise. It is generally assumed that the dominant middle-classes succeeded in recruiting the working-class youth and thus easily manipulating these young people for nationalist purposes. However, Boone demonstrates convincingly that this was not the case and that the British working-class youth resisted a nationalist identification process that tended to eradicate or obfuscate class differences.
Articles/Overviews/Sources/Lists of Working Class Literature
A Good Night Out — John McGrath. The text of seven talks, a classic discussion of what working class theatre and drama for (if not by) workers is about or should be.
Working-Class Women's Literature--An Introduction to Study — Paul Lauter. Article. Women in Print, I, J. Hartman and E. Messer-Davidow, eds. New York: Modern Language Association, 1982. Reprinted in Politics of Education: Essays from Radical Teacher. Albany: SUNY Press, 1990, pp. 110-139; reprinted in Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl, eds. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991, pp. 837-856.
Labor history, and union organizing literature
Fiction — Non-fiction
Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century — Richard B. Freeman, Joni Hersch and Lawrence Mishel (eds).
From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and America's Future — Stanley Aronowitz. The future of American labor is deeply connected to America's future. In the last quarter century, most American workers — blue collar, white collar, and professional — have taken an enormous hit, while only 20 percent of the population has prospered. Corporate downsizing, technological change, mergers, and acquisitions have cut the workforce by half in some industries; in others, the best-paid employees have lost their jobs and have been replaced by part-time, temporary workers who often lack benefits. Meanwhile, government protections are slowly fading from the lives of ordinary Americans as health benefits, pensions, and safety and health standards deteriorate. Stanley Aronowitz, a teacher, writer, and former trade union organizer, examines the decline of the labor movement in the past twenty-five years and its recent reemergence as a major force in the country's economic and political life. Republicans suddenly find themselves under attack from a forgotten foe. Democrats are shocked to see this ghost walking about, compelling the party to fight for a minimum-wage law it had practically abandoned. The labor movement, once given up for dead, is now the engine of economic democracy and progressive politics. But to succeed, Aronowitz argues, labor must return to the social-movement unionism of Eugene Debs and Walter Reuther. Such an energetic new movement is the key to America's future. Bound to generate national debate, From the Ashes of the Old calls for a bold new agenda, covering the principal challenges facing the labor movement today: to organize in the South and among the working poor, to unionize white-collar and technical employees, and to reestablish labor's political independence.
Labor Embattled: History, Power, Rights (Working Class in American History) — David Brody. American unions are weaker now than at any times in the past hundred years, with fewer than one in ten private-sector workers currently organized. In "Labor embattled, David Brody says this is a problem not only for the unions but also a disaster for American democracy and social justice. In a series of historically informed chapters, Brody explores recent developments affecting American workers in fight of labor's past. Of special concern to him is the erosion of the rights of workers under the modern labor law, which he argues is rooted in the original formulation of the Wagner Act. Brody explains how the ideals of free labor, free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of contract have been interpreted and canonized in ways that unfailingly reduce the capacity for workers' collective action while silently removing impediments to employers coercion of workers. His lucid and passionate essays combine legal and labor history to reveal how laws designed to undergird workers' rights now essentially hamstring them.
Labor Pains: Inside America's New Union Movement — Suzan Erem. Labor Pains is an insider's account of the struggle to rebuild a vibrant and powerful trade union movement in the United States. It takes as its starting point the daily experience of a union organizer, and brings that experience to life. It enables us to grasp how the conflicting demands of race, class, and gender are lived in the new union movement. The role of the unions is defined mainly by larger economic and political agendas. While keeping these agendas clearly in sight, Erem focuses primarily on aspects of the life of the union which often remain hidden. The personal crises of union members become entangled in the work of the union. The energies of the union are focused not only on winning gains from bosses but also on maintaining internal cohesion and morale among workers. Barriers of race, age and gender are constantly negotiated and overcome, and conflicts flare up across them at moments of tension. And union life goes on not only when the workers have made their point, or won a victory, but after defeat as well. The personalities and ambitions of union organizers converge at times and become a source of tension at others. Each individual within the larger collective has their own task of finding a viable balance between public and private selves. These intersecting lines of force are imaginatively recreated in this book. Erem writes as a woman in a union movement which is dominated by men; as the child of immigrants in a movement whose members are increasingly immigrants themselves; as one who finds herself in the racial no man's land between black and white. While never underestimating the obstacles in the way of the union movement, she makes a powerful and passionate case for organizing the disorganized and empowering the powerless.
Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, 1912-1921 — Joseph Mccartin. Since World War I, says Joseph McCartin, the central problem of American labor relations has been the struggle among workers, managers, and state officials to reconcile democracy and authority in the workplace.
New Rank and File (00 Edition) — Alice Lynd and Staughton (eds.) Lynd. In their narratives, rank-and-file workers from many different industries and workplaces reveal the specific incidents and pervasive injustices that triggered their activism. They discuss the frustrations they faced in attempting to effect change through traditional means, and the ways in which they have learned to advocate through innovation. In an incisive introduction, the Lynds set forth their distinctive perspective on the labor movement, with a focus on "solidarity unionism": making decisions on the assumption that we all may be leaders at one time or another rather than relying on static hierarchies. Their insights, along with true stories told in the organizers' own words, contain much to inspire a new generation of workers and activists.
Organizing to Win: New Research on Union Strategies — Kate Bronfenbrenner. At a time when the American labor movement is mobilizing
for a major resurgence through new organizing, here, at last, is a book
about research on union organizing strategies. Previous studies have
focused on factors contributing to union decline, devoting little attention
to the organizing process itself. The twenty chapters in this volume
dramatically increase understanding of the range and effectiveness of
new organizing strategies and their potential contribution to the revitalization
of the labor movement.
The Rights of Employees and Union Members — Wayne N. Outten, Robert J. Rabin, & Lisa R. Lipman. An American Civil Liberties Union handbook. Using a simple question-and-answer format, the authors examine in detail a variety of topics encompassing workplace protections, from hiring to firing and all the hours in-between. Written for every working American, this book sets forth individual rights under present law and offers suggestions on how workers can exercise them.
Strikes, Picketing and Inside Campaigns: A Legal Guide — Robert M. Schwartz. for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. With a deep understanding of the complex web of rules regulating forceful work-related activities, noted labor attorney and author Robert Schwartz offers examples of what unions can do, pointers on how to do it legally, picketing nstructions, sample letters and answers to scores of common questions. Valuable guidance is provided on working without a contract, residential picketing, pressuring secondaries, unemployment benefits, unfair labor practice strikes, offers to return, lockouts and other related topics.
Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on Its Back — Thomas Geoghegan. When it first appeared in hardcover, Which Side Are You On? received widespread critical accolades, and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. In this new paperback edition, Thomas Geoghegan has updated his eloquent plea for the relevance of organized labor in America with an afterword covering the labor movement through the 1990s. A funny, sharp, unsentimental career memoir, Which Side Are You On? pairs a compelling history of the rise and near-fall of labor in the United States with an idealist's disgruntled exercise in self-evaluation. Writing with the honesty of an embattled veteran still hoping for the best, Geoghegan offers an entertaining, accessible, and literary introduction to the labor movement, as well as an indispensable touchstone for anyone whose hopes have run up against the unaccommodating facts on the ground. Wry and inspiring, Which Side Are You On? is the ideal book for anyone who has ever woken up and realized, "You must change your life."
A Will of Their Own: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Working Children — Manfred Liebel. Children's work is on the increase in all parts of the world, including the affluent countries of Europe and North America, and is closely linked with the processes of globalization. It can take on widely differing forms and can harm children, but also benefit them. This book's approach is distinctive: it endeavors to understand working children, and their ways of living and acting, from their own perspective. It is interested in the children's own experiences and hopes, especially their attempts to speak out in public and to fight together against exploitation and discrimination. It shows that children frequently see and evaluate their work differently from adults, and that measures directed against children's work are not always in the interests of the children. It argues for a new, subject-oriented approach in dealing with children's work, which takes account of socio-cultural contexts, both in theory and practice. (If you have this book, please provide feedback.)
Workers in Industrial America: Essays on the Twentieth Century Struggle — David Brody. This famous book, representing some of the finest thinking and writing about the history of American labor in the twentieth century, is now revised to incorporate two important recent essays, one surveying the historical study of the CIO from its founding to its fiftieth anniversary in 1985, another placing in historical and comparative perspective the declining fortunes of the labor movement from 1980 to the present. As always, Brody confronts central questions, both substantive and historiographical, focusing primarily on the efforts of laboring people to assert some control over their working lives, and on the equal determination of American business to conserve the prerogatives of management. Long a classic in the field of American labor history, valued by general readers and specialists alike for its brilliance of argument and clarity of style, Workers in Industrial America is now more timely than ever.
Windows on the Workplace: Computers, Jobs, and the Organization of Office Work — Joan Greenbaum. debunks technological determinism by looking closely at work and the organization and meaning of work and jobs, finding that workers are enduring insecurity, increased competition, demands for more and more specialization, and management's inability to organize work properly. In this edition, which she has updated to include current conditions in the workplace, she describes the changes wrought by the computer in the office environment in the past 50 years, the reasons why the office of the future has remained in the future, and the clots of conventional wisdom that workers in the "knowledge industry" must confront collectively if they want to do meaningful work and avoid being absorbed into the milling millions of the downsized.
Other Related Literature Lists
Fifty Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read:
Indigenous Peoples Literature:
Working Class Fiction, a very comprehensive list of titles:
Working Class Literature, focusing on Working class writers:
Working Class Poetry at the Media Drome:
Working Class Literature Discussion Lists
Working Class Literature discussion group on Yahoo:
Other Working Class Lists (not necessarily literature-related)
The Commons In nonindustrial farming communities, “the commons" refers to a plot of land that all farmers in the community can share. The commons is also a metaphor, referring to any resource available to an entire group. This workgoup thus becomes a virtual commons -- a space to discuss issues relating to humanity and equality, on equal turf.
The Working Class Studies Discussion List provides opportunities for interaction among people with a shared interest in working-class life, culture, and politics. Participants use the list to share announcements of conferences, calls for papers, and events related to working-class studies, and to enjoy a discussion about key issues.
Working Class Publishers
Bottom Dog Press — An Ohio press run by Larry Smith that publishes works by individual authors as well as anthologies:
The Federation of Worker Writers & Community Publishers (FWWCP) — The FWWCP is a non-profit making umbrella organization for writer's groups and community publishers. The FWWCP publishes Federation Magazine, holds an annual Festival of Writing and develops participation in the arts and cultural activities. Includes links to writer organizations and arts and cultural organizations in the UK:
Partisan Press (Blue Collar Review) — Partisan Press is a not for profit publisher. Its mission is the preservation, expansion, and promotion of the literature of the working class, primarily poetry, which might not find a place in profit-driven publishing channels:
The Vulgar Press — The Vulgar Press is “…dedicated to the publication of working-class and other radical forms of writing.” Links to books, authors, new releases and more:
West End Press:
Working Class Sweat at the Exquisite Corpse
Recommended book sellers/resellers
Book lists & bibliographies
Contemporary Labor Bibliography (Kim Scipes):
Spirit of America Bookstore (IWW and Labor Movement):
BOOKS — Lists, reviews, articles about movies with working class or labor themes
Reel To Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies — Bell Hooks. Hooks's essays on film are not film criticism: they are criticism of culture as viewed through the prism of film. This mix of theory, reality, popular art and popular criticism (reviews and public reaction play a large part in her discussions) is effective in forcing a rethinking of the films in question... A discussion of the black female gaze recalls that slaves could be punished for looking, and another on representations of black masculinity notes that in movies with two male leads, one black and one white, such as Rising Sun, the white man plays the "father" role.
Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films About Labor (check it out here, buy from a union-friendly book store...)
See also: working class movies
These books are "working class" books. They may be pro-union, or simply pro-worker. They may be anti-fascist. Some of them have a leftist flavor, or an anti-war flavor.
Someone may make a distinction between "working class" books and "labor" books. I agree that this is an important consideration. I can even imagine a book that would be pro-"labor" and anti-working class, given the nature of many unions. But while such distinctions may be reflected in the reviews, i do not intend to create separate categories. This is not for lack of appreciation, it is simply due to lack of time or familiarity with the content.
I have not read all of these (or even most of these) books, their presence here in most cases is the result of recommendations.
I've decided to add a method of voting against books that appear here. Each (-) means that someone thought the book was innappropriate for this list. Additional votes against books may get them removed from the list.
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Working Class Literature
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