America's workers have been singing, reciting, performing, telling stories, writing, and publishing for more than three centuries. Ranging from early colonial times to the present, American Working-Class Literature presents more than 300 literary texts that exemplify this tradition. It demonstrates how American working people live, labor, struggle, express themselves, and give meaning to their experiences both inside and outside of the workplace. The only book of its kind, this groundbreaking anthology includes work not only by the industrial proletariat but also by slaves and unskilled workers, by those who work unpaid at home, and by workers in contemporary service industries. As diverse in race, gender, culture, and region as America's working class itself, the
selections represent a wide range of genres including fiction, poetry, drama, memoir, oratory, journalism, letters, oral history, and songs. Works by little-known or anonymous authors are included alongside texts from such acclaimed writers as Frederick Douglass, Upton Sinclair, Tillie Olsen, Philip Levine, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Leslie Marmon Silko. A rich selection of contemporary writing includes Martin Espada's poem "Alabanza" about the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.
American Working-Class Literature is organized chronologically into seven sections that highlight key historical and cultural developments in working-class life. The book is enhanced by an editors' introduction, section introductions, and individual head notes for each selection that
provide biographical and historical context. A timeline of working-class history, rich illustrations, sidebars, reading lists, and a bibliography of critical commentary are also included. This unique volume is ideal for courses in American literature, cultural and working-class studies, and labor history.
"One cannot overstate the need for this book. Instructors with any interest in socioeconomic issues in literature owe a debt of gratitude to professors Coles and Zandy. Until this book, there has not been a resource text for courses in working-class studies or in American Studies from a labor-literary perspective."--Laura Hapke, New York City College of Technology
"This is a long-overdue textbook. Attention to matters of class and labor, to working class studies, has been a subject of serious interest in American literature for the last three decades, but it remains an underrepresented field at the level of scholarship and teaching apparatuses. This volume is an important step toward addressing that lack."--Michael Elliott, Emory University