Topics in Literature and Society: The World of Work
Studying and writing about work is a relatively new enterprise, one that has produced an explosion of data, theory, manifesto, critique, fiction, memoir and dream. Readings will include fiction, poems, films, memoirs, essays, photographs and ethnographies. Central texts will be Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, Mike Rose’s The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker, and Studs Terkel’s Working. We’ll look at work as labor and, sometimes, burden, reading accounts of war, factory labor, food service and undertaking. (Yes, the work with bodies.) We’ll also read a volume of short stories, poems, and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Other topics will include the work of war, and the work of writing / re-writing.Writing assignments will include methods and genres from both the humanities and social sciences. You’ll write short pieces in response to the readings, a reflective piece on your own work history, and an oral history of a worker.