A History of American Working-Class Literature

A History of American Working-Class Literature


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A History of American Working-Class Literature by Nicholas Coles

A History of American Working-Class Literature sheds light not only on the lived experience of class but the enormously varied creativity of working-class people throughout the history of what is now the United States. By charting a chronology of working-class experience, as the conditions of work have changed over time, this volume shows how the practice of organizing, economic competition, place, and time shape opportunity and desire. The subjects range from transportation narratives and slave songs to the literature of deindustrialization and globalization. Among the literary forms discussed are memoir, journalism, film, drama, poetry, speeches, fiction, and song. Essays focus on plantation, prison, factory, and farm, as well as on labor unions, workers' theaters, and innovative publishing ventures. Chapters spotlight the intersections of class with race, gender, and place. The variety, depth, and many provocations of this History are certain to enrich the study and teaching of American literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107103382
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/02/2017
Pages: 504
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

Nicholas Coles is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches and writes about literacy and pedagogy, working-class literature, detective fiction, and climate change. He is co-editor of Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life (with Peter Oresick, 1990), For a Living: The Poetry of Work (with Peter Oresick, 1995), and American Working-Class Literature: An Anthology (with Janet Zandy, 2007). A former president of the Working-Class Studies Association, Coles is a regular writer on Working-Class Perspectives.

Paul Lauter was Smith Professor of Literature at Trinity College, Connecticut until his retirement. He is general editor of the ground-breaking Heath Anthology of American Literature (2005). Recent books include From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park (2001) and Literature, Class and Culture (with Ann Fitzgerald, 2000). Active in civil rights, feminist, peace, and labor movements, Lauter worked for social cause organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee, was a founder of The Feminist Press, served as union official at the State University of New York, and co-authored a book about the 1960s, The Conspiracy of the Young (with Florence Howe, 1970). He was also president of the American Studies Association.

Table of Contents

Introduction Nicholas Coles and Paul Lauter; 1. Transportation narratives: servants, convicts, and the literature of colonization in British America Matthew Pethers; 2. Why work? Early American theories and practices Paul Lauter; 3. Labor and literary culture in and beyond bondage: early African-American expressive culture John Ernest; 4. Lowell mill girls: women's work and writing in the early nineteenth century Christopher Hager; 5. 'Wet paper between us': Whitman and the transformations of labor Peter Riley; 6. Millions and mills: class and the ante-bellum novel Amy Schrager Lang; 7. 'We are not slaves': the shadow of slavery in nineteenth-century poetry and song John Marsh; 8. Utopian labors: work in nineteenth- and twentieth-century utopian and dystopian fiction James Catano; 9. Towards a more perfect union: marriage plots in socialist fiction, 1901-17 Alicia Williamson; 10. What workers were reading, 1830-1930 Jan Goggans; 11. Getting the word out: institutions and forms of publication Mark Noonan; 12. Genre and form in working-class life writing, from Haymarket to the New Deal Michael Collins; 13. Working the fields: love and labor in farm fiction from 1890 to the Dust Bowl Nicholas Coles; 14. Proletarian literature: fiction and the predicaments of class culture Lawrence Hanley; 15. Go left young women: proletarian women writers Michelle Tokarczyk; 16. 'I have seen black hands': a twentieth-century African American tradition Bill Mullen; 17. The American labor song tradition Richard Flacks; 18. Prison literature from the early Republic to Attica Joe Lockard; 19. The workers' theatre of the twentieth century Amy Brady; 20. The evolution of the poetry of work: from the Red Decade to the end of the Cold War Cary Nelson; 21. The labor plot: one hundred years of class struggle and the silver screen Kathleen Newman; 22. Globalization, migration, and contemporary working-class literature Joseph Entin; 23. Narrating economic restructuring: working-class literature after deindustrialization Sherry Lee Linkon; 24. A turn of the sphere: the place of class in intersectional analysis Sara Appel.

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