Syllabus Library

How should we teach about working-class life and culture? Sharing resources and models for teaching will contribute to the development of Working-Class Studies as a field. If you teach a Working-Class Studies course and would like to share your syllabus, please submit it to, Tim Francisco.


Laurence Cox: Working-Class Dublin (Senior Seminar)
The first semester reading group will use the developing approach of working-class studies, which focuses on the everyday experience, cultural identity and self-organization or working-class communities, drawing particularly on work by working-class writers and writers from working-class backgrounds. In the second semester, we will carry out a series of related projects exploring different aspects of working-class communities in the greater Dublin area.

Interdisciplinary Working-Class Studies

Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder: Teaching to a Different Crowd
In this course, you will find out the true, hidden history of Cleveland- the history suppressed by “The Man. Well, that’s only somewhat true. Cleveland is frequently depicted as a working-class town, but what does that really mean. In order to find out, we’ll investigate local histories and draw on local resources to discover stories and cultures that aren’t always discussed in textbooks. In order to do this type of investigative work into history and culture, we’ll equip ourselves with the tools of the trade: a background in historiography, cultural studies, working-class studies and, of course, Cleveland history. We’ll take advantage of local writers and historians, make trips to local neighborhoods and museums, read books and watch movies that depict Cleveland’s working-class culture. We probably won’t find any easy answers and will be encouraged to analyze contexts and information in new and challenging ways. You’ll be responsible for writing papers as we go and you’ll prepare a formal presentation and a research paper in the form of an online class project on Cleveland working-class culture and history.

Eileen Boris: Sweatshop USA (First Year)
This course considers the past and present of the sweatshop, focusing on representations by defenders and detractors as well as its social, economic, and political contexts.

John Russo: Work in America (Upper Division/Graduate)
Work in America is an interdisciplinary course designed to examine the work experience and the changing characteristics, expectations, and representations of work. This will include the exploration of demographic, technological, socio-economic, multi-cultural, ethical, popular and poetic perspectives.

Laura Hapke: American Work: A Narrative History (Undergraduate)
Over the next 15 weeks, we will explore the representation of labor in documents ranging from novels and short stories to newspaper articles to union websites to visual images and other resources.

Laura Hapke: New York Blue Collar: A History of American Work (Undergraduate)
The course examines laboring in America by studying historical texts and documents on what would now be called the blue-collar experience, locating each group in terms of each other, of urban mainstream culture, and of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Through readings not usually studied in American history classes, students can explore a body of protest fiction that gave ethnic, racial, and gender minorities a voice; questioned cherished American myths; and posed questions about personal and economic equality still not answered by American society.

Michelle Tokarczyk: Working-Class America (First Year)
“Who are working-class people? What kinds of work do they do? What kinds of lives do they lead? The course will attempt to answer these questions by looking on theories of class and at literature written about class. We will also look at commentary on one of America ‘s most promising means to upward mobility?education. Finally, we’ll look at two cases?one an account written by a therapist, the other an autobiographically based piece of fiction?of upward mobility to complicate stories of ‘making it.'”

Pamela Sheff: Class at Work in America (First Year)
In this course, we will explore together the way our own class filters work by reading and responding to concepts in social theory, contemporary and historical social documents, literature, and the media.

Renny Christopher and Beth Hartung: Narratives of the Working-Class (upper-division general education)
Narratives of the Working Class meshes sociological and literary perspectives, and enables students to work on writing their own narratives.

Sherry Linkon: Class and Culture (Upper Division/Graduate)
This course is designed to help you achieve the following learning goals: understand the complexity of class as a social and analytical category, develop your ability to critically analyze representations of the working class, understand how popular culture shapes working-class consciousness and activism, understand how class culture is complicated by the intersection of multiple cultural identities—race, gender, sexuality, place, ethnicity.


Sherry Linkon: Working-Class Literature (Graduate)
This course has two purposes: to help you develop an understanding of central debates about and themes in American working-class literature and to help you develop your skills as a researcher and teacher of literature in general.

William DeGenaro: Working-Class Literature (First year)
The name of this course raises more questions than it answers. Who is the working class? How does the working class differ from the middle class? Is working-class literature written by, for, or about the working class? What characteristics distinguish this literature? The answers to all these questions are complex and you will spend the semester engaged in critical conversation and reflective and analytical writing in order to begin formulating thoughtful and examined responses.

Pamela Fox:  Class Fictions in the Contemporary U.S. (Upper Division)

This interdisciplinary course examines U.S. literary and popular representations of “low” classes/cultures (working class/poor/’underclass’) from the 1990s to the present moment.  With the aid of recent theory and cultural criticism, we will focus on ways in which categories such as race, gender, and sexuality help to construct our contemporary notions of what “class” means in the United States.  We will be studying a wide variety of texts, forms, and genres-fiction, autobiography, film, and music-and taking up a broad spectrum of issues.

Composition & Rhetoric

William DeGenaro: Rhetorics of Social Class (Graduate)
In this class, we will consider intersections of theories of class and theories of rhetoric . . . . We will also think about social class in the contexts of the workplace, the community, the college campus, and the classroom.