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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2005

AMS 370 • American Worker-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
27210 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
BEN 1.106

Course Description

This course takes as its focal point the nature of work, labor, and the labor movement in the United States. Who counts as a worker in America? What does it mean to work? How does work and economic class shape identity? How do workers define themselves collectively? We will examine American structures and discourses of class, gender, race, nationality, and culture through the behavior, practices, and beliefs of American workers. Focusing on workers allows us to see how political-economic identity shapes and is shaped by other aspects of social and cultural personhood.

Topics we will study include the fundaments of class and capitalism; the organization of work; the culture of workers; the labor movement; films about workers; the gendering, racialization, and internationalism of contemporary workplaces; and alliances between communities of race, class, gender, and nation.


Books/Articles: Adam Smith, selections from Wealth of Nations; Herman Melville, “Bartleby” and “The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids;” Karl Marx, selections from Capital; Max Weber, selections from Essays in Economic Sociology; Daniel Letwin, Interracial Unionism: Alabama Coalminers, 1878 – 1921; Michael Denning, selections from The Cultural Front; George Lipsitz, Rainbow at Midnight; Howard Zinn, Dana Frank, and Robin D. G. Kelley, Three Strikes; Robin D. G. Kelley, selections from Race Rebels; Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed; Rick Fantasia, Cultures of Solidarity; Kate Bronfenbrenner (ed.), Selections from Organizing to Win; Ruth Milkman (ed.), selections from Organizing Immigrants Films: Salt of the Earth; Norma Rae; The Cradle Will Rock; American Dream; Clockwatchers; Los Trabajadores


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