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American Working Class Literature

Course Number: ENG 237
Transcript Title: American Working Class Lit
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: May 20, 2014
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit

Prerequisites

Placement into WR 121

Recommended

ENG 104, ENG 105 and/or ENG 106

Course Description

Introduces students to literature by and/or about the working class, primarily from an American perspective. Prerequisite: Placement into WR 121. Recommended: ENG 104, ENG 105 and/or ENG 106.

Intended Outcomes

  1. Analyze working-class literature to recognize the difference between generalizations or stereotypes of the working-class and the realities of individual working-class experience; use this recognition to question our assumptions about the individuals with whom we interact.
  2. Identify significant and recurring themes within working-class literature; analyze ways these themes relate to the issues of family, gender and the politics of work experienced by the people that we encounter on a daily basis; use this understanding to transform the range and depth of our interactions during these encounters.
  3. Use the tools of literary analysis - in respectful evaluations of both traditional and nontraditional genres of working-class literature - during discussions with peers, family members, clients and coworkers.
  4. Recognize that literature is produced in a historical, cultural, sociological and political context; use this understanding to recognize that the products of our own labors are also subject to these contextual considerations.
  5. Write clearly about ideas and issues in working-class literature, recognizing differences between oral and written communication, as well as the ways that the audience - whether instructors, peers, family members, or co-workers - affects linguistic expectations.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include:

  • Students missing a week's worth of class may not expect an A; those missing two weeks’ worth may not pass the course.
  • Informal responses such as quizzes, study questions or journals.
  • Participation in small - and full - group discussion.
  • In-class and out-of-class writing.
  • Formal academic essays.
  • Presentations by individuals and groups.
  • Short and long essay examinations.
  • Close reading exercises using support/evidence.
  • Portfolios of creative writing or visual art forms.
  • Dance, theatrical or spoken-word performances.
  • Academic essays that evaluate various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. Both instructor and peer evaluation may be incorporated into the assessment process.

Course Activities and Design

Class meeting time consists of lecture, group discussion, and small group discussion. Meeting time may also include the following: writing; performing; viewing DVDs, online sources or videotapes; listening to performances, guest speakers, or audio recordings.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course will introduce and foster understanding of:

  • The confines and fluidity of class identity in American culture and the influence of these questions of identity in literature by/about the working-class.
  • Ways and reasons that working-class literature has traditionally been marginalized.
  • The relationship between working-class literature and "labor literature".
  • Stereotypes and generalizations of working-class as primarily male, white and industrial, and the response of working-class literature to such generalizations.
  • The ways that working-class literature identifies intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, educational status, and sexual orientation with class identity.
  • The necessity, when considering working-class literature, to expand traditional notions of literary genres (poetry, fiction, drama) to include forms such as letters, memoirs, oral history, songs, speeches, leaflets.
  • Rhetorical considerations, especially with regards to socio-historical context, intended audience and political purpose of working-class texts.
  • The relationships between creativity and productivity, especially within the context of power and ownership.
  • Themes of power and powerlessness.
  • The significance of linguistic styles in representing power relationships.