Critical Approaches to American Working-Class Literature  book cover
1st Edition

Critical Approaches to American Working-Class Literature

Edited By

Michelle Tokarczyk

ISBN 9780415885461
Published May 25, 2011 by Routledge
282 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is one of the first collections on a neglected field in American literature: that written by and about the working-class. Examining literature from the 1850s to the present, contributors use a wide variety of critical approaches, expanding readers’ understanding of the critical lenses that can be applied to working-class literature. Drawing upon theories of media studies, postcolonial studies, cultural geography, and masculinity studies, the essays consider slave narratives, contemporary poetry and fiction, Depression-era newspaper plays, and ethnic American literature. Depicting the ways that working-class writers render the lives, the volume explores the question of what difference class makes, and how it intersects with gender, race, ethnicity, and geographical location.

Table of Contents

Introduction.  Part I: The Realities of Working-Class Life  1. Between the Outhouse and the Garbage Dump: Locating Collapse in Depression Literature. Paula Rabinowitz  2. Work is a War or, All Their Lives They Dug Their Graves. Renny Christopher  3. Respectability, Refinement, and the Underclass: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Sylvia J. Cook  Part II: Pedagogy and Promises  4. Bridges, Not Ladders: Working-Class Women Poets on Education, Class Consciousness, and the Promise of Upward Mobility. Karen Kovacik  5. Charlotte Simmons as Working-Class Heroine in Tom Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons. David McCracken  6. [Un]teaching the Anthology: Pedagogy vs Canon in Working-Class Literature. Nicholas Coles  Part III: The Experience of Poverty  7. Agency Not Alligators: Poor Women and Outside Assistance in Three Short Stories. Michelle M. Tokarczyk  8. Homeless in Seattle: Class Violence in Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer. Michele Fazio  9. Cultural Geography and Local Economies: The Lesson from Egypt, Maine. Phoebe S.Jackson  Part IV: Reconsidering Class, Gender, and Nation  10. A Body of Work: Imperial Labor and the Writing of American Manhood in London’s The Sea-Wolf. Matthew Brophy  11. The Man in the Family": Staging Gender in Waiting for Lefty and American Social Protest Theatre. Maria F. Brandt  12. Henry Roth’s Re-Imagination of Class Consciousness from Call it Sleep to the Mercy of a Rude Stream Novels: Class Consciousness, Nationalist Politics, and Working-Class Studies in the Age of Cosmopolitanism. Tim Libretti

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Michelle M. Tokarczyk is a professor of English at Goucher College with publications in working-class studies and contemporary literature. Publications include Class Definitions: On the Lives and Writings of Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, and Dorothy Allison, the co-edited Working-Class Women in the Academy, and The House I’m Running From: Poems .


"[A] much-needed and much-welcomed anthology of literary criticism... this volume stands as an excellent reflection of the current state of working-class literary studies, as it also sets the stage for future forward movement." - Working-Class Notes