Critical Approaches to American Working-Class Literature
Edited by Michelle Tokarczyk
Routledge – 2011 – 250 pages
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.
"[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
Introduction: "How Do We Read Working-Class Texts?" Michelle Tokarczyk I. The Realities of Working-Class Life Introductory Comments—Tokarczyk 1. "Between the Outhouse and the Garbage Dump: Locations in/of Collapse" 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 Cook II. Pedagogy and Promises Introductory Comments—Tokarczyk 4. "Ladder or Bridge: Working-Class Women Poets on Education, Class Consciousness, and the Promise of Upward Mobility" Karen M. Kovacik 5. "Charlotte as a Working-Class Heroine in Tom Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons" David McCracken 6. "Teaching the Anthology: Pedagogy vs. Canon" Nicholas J. Coles III. The Experience of Poverty Introductory Comments—Tokarczyk 7. "A Question of Agency: Representations of Poor Women and Public Assistance in Short Stories" Michelle Tokarczyk 8. "The Culture of Poverty in Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer" Michele A. Fazio 9. "Cultural Geography and Local Economies: The Lesson from Egypt, Maine" Phoebe S. Jackson IV. Reconsidering Class, Gender, and Nation Introductory Comments—Tokarczyk 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 Protest Theatre" Maria F. Brandt 12. "Henry Roth’s Re-Imagination of Class Consciousness through the National Subject from Call It Sleep to the Mercy of a Rude Stream Novels: Class Consciousness, Nationalist Politics, and Working-Class Studies in the Age of Postcolonial Theory" Timothy Libretti
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 .