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A History of American Working-Class Literature

A History of American Working-Class Literature


Nicholas Coles, Paul Lauter, Matthew Pethers, John Ernest, Christopher Hager, Peter Riley, Amy Schrager Lang, John Marsh, James Catano, Alicia Williamson, Jan Goggans, Mark Noonan, Michael Collins, Lawrence Hanley, Michelle Tokarczyk, Bill Mullen, Richard Flacks, Joe Lockard, Amy Brady, Cary Nelson, Kathleen Newman, Joseph Entin, Sherry Lee Linkon, Sara Appel
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  • Date Published: March 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107103382

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Deals with literary texts from the early seventeenth to the early twenty-first centuries, providing students, teachers, and lay readers with an overview of a whole new field of study
    • Essays examine a huge variety of written texts - poetry, songs, stories, memoir, journalism - as well as movies and other dramatic forms, showing the variety of working-class literary forms and broadening the idea of what constitutes 'literature'
    • Presents working-class literary texts in relation to the social dynamics of class conflict and change, offering readers helpful ways of understanding relationships between historical struggles and cultural production
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Coles (Univ. of Pittsburgh) and Lauter (ret., Trinity College) bring together essays that challenge the notion of the 'American dream'. The essays contextualize the experience of the working class in the US and consider its representation in literature. … this collection appears at a time of extreme class inequality in the the US. To write about working class literature is a political act because it carries writers and readers beyond the text and into the realities of working-class lives. … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' S. L. Rottschafer, CHOICE

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107103382
    • length: 504 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 162 x 27 mm
    • weight: 0.92kg
    • availability: In stock
  • 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.

  • Editors

    Nicholas Coles, University of Pittsburgh
    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
    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.


    Nicholas Coles, Paul Lauter, Matthew Pethers, John Ernest, Christopher Hager, Peter Riley, Amy Schrager Lang, John Marsh, James Catano, Alicia Williamson, Jan Goggans, Mark Noonan, Michael Collins, Lawrence Hanley, Michelle Tokarczyk, Bill Mullen, Richard Flacks, Joe Lockard, Amy Brady, Cary Nelson, Kathleen Newman, Joseph Entin, Sherry Lee Linkon, Sara Appel

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