Class, Labor, and American Capitalism
Office Hours: Wednesday 2:30-3:30 and by
This course explores the themes of work, class, and labor movements along with the history of American capitalism. The stages of American capitalism and class formation, changes in racial, ethnic, and gender relations and in the values of work, leisure, and consumerism are among the issues to be considered.
The course is also about the politics of labor and class. Attempts to organize working people into labor unions or political parties date back to the 1820s. We will explore the many faces of organized labor and American radicalism seeking to understand what is often said to be America's unique hostility to class-based ideologies and organizations. The course concludes with a consideration of contemporary patterns of social inequality and the current fate of organized labor.
Midterm, final, 3 page labor event observation paper, and 7+ page research paper or service learning report, weekly reading responses. No one may pass the course without completing each of these assignments.
They will be weighted as follows: midterm (20%), final (25%), research paper or service learning project (30%), labor event report (10%), class participation/reading responses (15%). The class participation grade will depend largely on the weekly discussions of assigned readings and on several short response-to-readings assignments. Generally we will set aside an hour each Thursday to discuss the readings.
SCHEDULE OF LECTURES & READINGS
Week 2: (read Freeland, Plutocrats, 141-287)
Week 3: (read Green, Death in Haymarket, 1-159)
Week 4: (read Green, Death in Haymarket, 160-320)
Week 5 : (readings for research projects TBA)
Week 6 : (readings for research projects TBA)
Week 7: (read Bulosan, America is in the Heart, 1-151)
Week 8: (read Bulosan, America is in the Heart, 152-327)
Week 9: (read Course Reader part 1)
LABOR EVENT OBSERVATION PAPER
The object of this assignment is to learn something about how contemporary labor movements operate. You should make plans to observe a labor event, either a cultural event, meeting, picket line, or protest. Then submit a 3 page observation paper describing what you have seen and offering observations and analysis of what it reveals about contemporary labor culture. What attitudes and practices do you observe? Do they reflect aspects of labor history and labor culture that we have been discussing in class? By labor culture I mean ideas, values, rituals, symbols, tactics, etc. Grades will be based on the quality of observations and the quality of writing. This assignment should be completed early and turned in as soon as possible. Deadline: May 8.
RESEARCH PAPER/ SERVICE LEARNING
There are two options for this assignment: (1) a 7+ page historical research paper (2) participate in a service learning assignment with an eligible union or poverty program and write a 7 page report. Consult the canvas site for full descriptions of each.