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Labor History Seminar
History 498
Fall 2007

Professor: Steve Estes Phone: 707.664.2424
Office: Stevenson 2070 D
Office Hours: M/W 2:30-3:30; T: 11-12:00 a.m.
Class Meets: 1:00-4:40 Tuesdays

Course Objectives:
This course is intended to give a broad overview of American labor history and historiography with a special emphasis on the experience of work and workers in the late-19th and 20th centuries. We will investigate the rise of organized labor in the late-19th and early-20th century as workers sought to assert control over their own lives and workplaces at the same time that America became a leading industrial power. Then we will examine the decline of unions and the shift from an industrial economy to a largely technological and service-based economy in the second half of the 20th century. Throughout the course, we will be working on the craft of research and the art of writing. By the end of the semester we will not only have a better understanding of what other scholars have said about labor history, we will also have contributed our own original efforts at chronicling the history of work and workers in this country.

Barry, Max. Company
Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward
Bowe, John. Gig
Cowie, Jefferson. Capital Moves
Gorn, Elliot. Mother Jones
Nelson, Scott. Steel Drivin’ Man
Rothenberg, Daniel. With These Hands
+Articles and Reserve Readings

Course Requirements:
Classroom Participation & Reading: As an advanced history seminar, meeting once a week on Tuesday afternoons (1:00 pm -4:40 pm), this course requires that students keep up with the reading and participate in class discussions and activities. At the beginning of the term students will choose one week to read both the required and one of the optional readings so that they can lead the discussion for half of the allotted class time. You must come to consult with me the week before you lead the discussion, and you need to turn in a discussion outline at the end of the class that you lead. This teaching assignment is worth 20% of your final grade, and general discussion participation during the semester is 10% of your final grade.

Papers: There are five short book/article reviews in this class and one research paper. The short papers are simply one-page, single-spaced book/article reviews in the style of the American Historical Review or another professional historical journal. Half of you will be turning in book reviews each week in a random assignment at the beginning of the semester. The term paper, dealing with any aspect of the history of work or workers in modern America, is 15-20 pages in length, and it will be based on primary and secondary source research. Students will present this work in the last two weeks of the semester. (Book Reviews: 10% each for a total of 50% of final grade; Term Paper: 30% of final grade—including grades on rough drafts and on the 10-minute research presentation at the end of the semester.)

Course Schedule

Week I: Introduction 8.21.07
Required Reading: None
Part 1: Student Introductions & Discussion of Reviews / Research Topics
Part 2: View & Discuss Modern Times, 9 to 5, & Office Space

Week II: Race and Labor in 19th Century America 8.28.07
Required Reading: Nelson, Steel Drivin’ Man
Part 1: Discuss Nelson Reading
Part 2: WPA Slave Narratives Workshop

Week III: A “Noble and Holy Order” 9.4.07
Required Activity: Informal Co-worker Interview
Required Reading: Caroll D. Wright, “A Historical Sketch of the Knights of Labor,” Quarterly Journal of Economics January 1887 1(2): 137-168 (JSTOR database in Snoopy); Susan Levine, “Labor’s True Woman: Domesticity and Equal Rights in the Knights of Labor,” Journal of American History September 1983 70(2): 323-339. (JSTOR database in Snoopy).
Optional Reading: Terrence Powderly, The Path I Trod; Leon Fink, Workingmen's Democracy; and Melton McLaurin, The Knights of Labor in the South.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Worker interview discussion

Week IV: Workingman’s Utopia 9.11.07
Required Reading: Bellamy, Looking Backward
Optional Reading: Edward Bellamy, Edward Bellamy Speaks Again; Sylvia Bowman, Edward Bellamy; or Arthur Morgan, Edward Bellamy.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Constructing a Utopian University (Activity)

Week V: Every Worker’s Mother 9.18.07
Required Reading: Gorn, Mother Jones
Optional Readings: Philip Foner, ed., Mother Jones Speaks; Betsy Kraft, Mother Jones; Dale Fetherling, Mother Jones: The Miner's Angel; or Mother Jones magazine (five selected issues)
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Biography Workshop

Week VI: American Sweatshop 9.25.07
Required Reading: Charles Phillips “March 25, 1911 Triangle Fire,” American History, April 2006, Vol. 41 Issue 1, p16-70 (Academic Search Premier database in Snoopy) and Ellen Wiley Todd, “Photojournalism, Visual Culture, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire,” Labor 2005 2(2): 9-27 (American History and Life database in Snoopy).
Optional Reading: Leon Stein, The Triangle Fire or David Von Drehle, Triangle
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Sweatshops: Then and Now

Week VII: Labor Movement Memoirs 10.02.07
Required Writing: Research proposal (1-page on thesis & sources) due next Monday.
Required Reading: (One of the Following) Alice Cook, A Lifetime of Labor; Henry Ford, My Life and Work or Today and Tomorrow; Samuel Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor; Big Bill Haywood, Bill Haywood's Book; James Hoffa, The Trials of Jimmy Hoffa; Lee Iacocca, Iacocca; Mother Jones, Autobiography of Mother Jones; John L. Lewis, The Miners' Fight for American Standards; Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter; Wyndham Mortimer, Organize!; Rose Pesotta, Bread Upon the Waters; Terrence Powderly, The Path I Trod; Victor Reuther, The Brothers Reuther; or an alternate labor movement memoir of your choice with permission of the instructor.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Labor Movement Debate

Week VIII: Workers and Mass Culture 10.09.07
Required Reading: Classmates’ paper proposals; Lizabeth Cohen, “Encountering Mass Culture at the Grassroots: The Experience of Chicago Workers in the 1920s,” American Quarterly March 1989 41(1):6-33; (JSTOR database in Snoopy) and Steven J. Ross, Struggles for the Screen: Workers, Radicals, and the Political Uses of Silent Film” American Historical Review April 1991 96(2): 333-367 (JSTOR database in Snoopy).
Optional Reading: Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal and Steven Ross, Workers on the Edge.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Research Proposal Workshop

Week IX: White Collar 10.16.07
Required Reading: Max Barry, Company; and Scott Adams, Dilbert (On Reserve)
Optional Reading: C. Wright Mills, White Collar or William H. White, The Organization Man.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Dilbert Cartoon Discussion and Contest

Week X: Factories in the Fields 10.23.07
Required Reading: Rothenberg, With These Hands
Optional Reading: Carey McWilliams, Factories in the Fields; Susan Ferris, Fight in the Fields; Jacques Levy, Cesar Chavez; or Richard Griswald del Castillo, César Chávez.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: View excerpts of Fight in the Fields

Week XI: The Globalization of Work 10.30.07
Required: Cowie, Capital Moves.
Optional: Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: View excerpts of Roger & Me

Week XII: Working [and] Poor 11.06.07
Required Writing: Draft Excerpt (any 3-4 pages of your research paper, except the introduction) due next Monday.
Required Reading: None.
Part 1: View Waging a Living (SSU Multimedia DVD1359)
Part 2: Film Discussion.

Week XIII: Gigs 11.13.07
Required Writing: Draft of research paper introduction (2 pages) due next Monday.
Required Interview: Kid Interview (age 8-14) “What do you wanna be when you grow up?”
Required Reading: Bowe, et al., Gig (excerpts)
Optional Reading: Studs Terkel, Working.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” Discussion

Week XIV: Getting’ Gigs 11.20.07
Required Writing: Resumé and Cover Letter
Required Dress: Business Interview
Part 1: Mock Interviews
Part 2: Interview Debriefing and Discuss Research Paper Introductions

Week XV: Student Presentations 11.27.07
Required Writing: Work on your Research Paper (and exchange draft with writing partner)
Part 1: Begin Student Presentations

Week XVI: Student Presentations 12.4.07
Required Writing: Research Paper and Research Presentation Due
Part 1: Continue Student Presentations

Week XVII: Final Exam 12.11 (2:00 pm – 3:50 pm)
Complete Student Presentations