Hands: Physical Labor, Class, and Cultural Work / Edition 1

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"Zandy takes her subject-the living, writing, and teaching of the American working-class experience-deeply into a regrettably obscure area of cultural studies, one which she is eminently able to treat." --Martha Banta, author of Barbaric Intercourse: Caricature and the Culture of Conduct

What are two hands worth?

In linking forms of cultural expression to labor, occupational injuries, and deaths, Hands: Physical Labor, Class, and Cultural Work centers what is usually decentered--the complex culture of working-class people. Janet Zandy begins by examining the literal loss of lives to unsafe jobs and occupational hazards. She asks critical and timely questions about worker representation--who speaks for employees when the mills, mines, factories, and even white-collar cubicles shut down. She presents the voices of working-class writers and artists, and discusses their contribution to knowledge and culture.

Zandy also illuminates the relationship between contemporary poets and historical events such as the Triangle fire, and argues for consideration of Ralph Fasanella as a great narrative painter of the working class. Hands concludes with an imaginative interpretation of how our complex system of technology affects laboring bodies through various speed zones of history, culture, and lived experience.

This path-making book reveals the flesh and bone beneath the abstractions of labor, class, and culture. It is an essential contribution to the emerging field of working-class studies, offering a hybrid model for bridging communities and non-academic workers to scholars and institutions of knowledge.

Janet Zandy is a professor of language and literature at the RochesterInstitute of Technology. She is the author of Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writing, Liberating Memory: Our Work and Our Working-Class Consciousness, and What We Hold in Common: An Introduction to Working-Class Studies.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813534350
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 1,204,942
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue : the epistemology of the hand
How much are two hands worth? 7
Loss : circumstances and choices 11
Trubeck labs 13
Books of the dead 22
God job 36
Workers Memorial Day : April 28 50
Articulations : culture is not negation 61
Worker writers : where do you keep your writing? 63
In the skin of a worker; or, what makes a text working class? 84
Worker ghosts 94
Recoveries : useable pasts 123
Fire poetry on the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of March 25, 1911 125
Stillness, motion, bodies, and possibilities for working-class studies 144
Ralph Fasanella : epic painter of the working class 157
Technologies : on laboring bodies 171
Preface : the prison tour 173
Zone 1 Technological speed 175
Zone 2 Industrial tours 179
Zone 3 The amputation 185
Zone 4 Blind spots 189
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