Cover image for Labor's text : the worker in American fiction
Labor's text : the worker in American fiction
Hapke, Laura.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press , [2001]

Physical Description:
xiv, 474 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm

Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.W64 H36 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Labor's Text charts how the worker has been portrayed and often misrepresented in American fiction. Laura Hapke offers hundreds of depictions of wage earners: from fiction on the early artisan "aristocrats" to the Gilded Age's union-busting novelists to the year 2000's marginalized, apolitical men and women. Whether the authors discussed are pro- or anti-labor, Hapke illuminates the literary, historical, and intellectual contexts in which their fiction was produced and read.

Author Notes

Laura Hapke is a professor of English at Pace University

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Society's view of the American laborer has been ambiguous, with working people variously celebrated, reviled, or sentimentalized. This thorough new study of labor fiction chronicles the struggles of American wage earners, showing how literary depictions of workers have traditionally reflected public opinion of political and social changes in the workplace. Hapke, an award-winning author of other studies of the working class, examines works by numerous 19th- and 20th-century novelists, including Louisa May Alcott, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, and Russell Banks. She pays special attention to novels emphasizing the rise of trade unions, the plight of early African American workers, and the impact of Marxism upon the labor force. Through these fictive stories of tenement newsboys, women mill workers, and Pullman Car waiters, the bittersweet history of American labor unfolds. Recommended for most public and academic libraries.DEllen Sullivan, Ferguson Lib., Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Introduction: Whose Plot Is It, Anyway?p. 1
Part I From the Antebellum to the Progressive Era
Chapter 1 Workers in the Wings: Antebellum Fictionsp. 17
Chapter 2 I'm Looking through You: Working Men from Status Quo to Knights of Labor Fictionp. 43
Chapter 3 Labor's Ladies: Work Fiction and True Women from Antebellum Lowell through the Gilded Agep. 65
Chapter 4 Taking to Their Streets: Ethnic Cultures and Labor Texts in the Sociological 1890sp. 91
Chapter 5 Beastmen and Labor Experts: Fiction and the Problem of Authority from 1900 to 1917p. 115
Chapter 6 Facing the Unwomanly: Sweatshop and Sex Shop in Progressive Era Labor Fictionp. 139
Part II The Road to 1930
Chapter 7 The Hungry Eye: Desire and Disaffection in 1920s Labor Fictionp. 169
Chapter 8 From Black Folk to Working Class: African American Labor Fiction between the World Warsp. 195
Chapter 9 Heroic at Last: Depression Era Fictionsp. 217
Part III After the Proletarian Moment
Chapter 10 What Was Your Crime?: Representing Labor in the HUAC Erap. 247
Chapter 11 The Usable Past: Jobs, Myths, and Three Racial-Ethnic Literatures of the Civil Rights Erap. 279
Chapter 12 Working-Class Twilight: White Labor Texts of the Civil Rights and Vietnam Decadesp. 299
Conclusion: Everything Old Is New Again: Working Through Class in the Literary 1990sp. 317
Notesp. 341
Indexp. 447