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Jacqueline Jones, Chair 128 Inner Campus Dr., Stop B7000, GAR 1.104 Austin, TX 78712-1739 • 512-471-3261

Fall 2005

HIS 317L • Working-Cls Struggle in Mod US

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38472 to 38473 Multiple Sections

Course Description

The struggles of the working class, both in and outside of unions, are vibrant, dramatic and critical to the development of the United States  but are often relegated to the periphery of American history. The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the major events and themes surrounding the history of working class people, with a particular emphasis on the time period 1865-1965. As we examine issues of race and gender, culture and community, politics and the state, we will connect the history of the working class with the broader history of the US. This course will examine the history of working people - men and women, paid and unpaid, of various racial and ethnic groups, in diverse geographic regions. Particular attention will be paid to the organized labor movement and its struggle for better wages, hours, working conditions, and benefits from its earliest manifestations in the Nineteenth century through its peak and subsequent backslide in the decades following World War II. We will examine the roles played by violence, immigration, racism, and ongoing accusations of anti-Americanism in the success and failure of labor unions. We will pause at various times to explore issues of workplace culture, the relationship of the state to labor, and the diversity of work and workers. Emphasis will be given to the ways that workers of color incorporated broader civil rights goals into their labor struggles.

Partially fulfills legislative requirement for American History.

Grading Policy

In addition to lecture and some films, classes will regularly revolve around discussion of assigned readings. Students enrolled in the course are expected to come to class having read the assigned material and prepared to contribute to the class. Twenty percent of the course grade will be based on class participation, attendance, and reading quizzes. The remainder of the grade will be determined by three papers. Paper One: 3-4 pages, 20% Paper Two: 4-5 pages, 30% Paper Three: 4-5 pages, 30%


Course readings will include excerpts from works such as: Major Problems in the History of Working Class America Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labors Last Century Dishing it Out: Waitresses and Their Unions in the 20th Century Race Rebels Eight Hours for What We Will Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America


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