Trevor Scott Griffey
Examines the evolution of the institutions that have shaped labor. Discusses indentured servitude, slavery, apprenticeship, schooling, wage labor, unions, and the laws that surround each of these institutions.
What is social class, and what are the political, economic, and cultural structures that shape how people see or make sense of social inequality?
This course explores this question through the study of U.S. history. It will pay particular attention to the role of slavery in shaping how Americans came to define "free labor", the role of gender ideologies in shaping both work and inequality, the growth and decline of labor union membership during the 20th century, and the relationship between citizenship status and social class in the contemporary U.S. economy.
While grounded in U.S. history, the class is intended to provide students with intellectual tools and historical information for studying power in a variety of social contexts. By studying the relationship between work and power in U.S. history, students will also develop the ability to study the intersections between race, class, and gender; as well as research and write about the relationship between political and economic citizenship.
Student learning goals
Learn how to apply concepts of class formation, class structure, and class consciousness to studies of power relationships
Cultivate an historical awareness of how class, race, and gender have intersected in U.S. history
Develop an ability to make historical arguments and engage historical debates using primary sources
General method of instruction
Class will be a mix of lecture, film, guest speakers, and discussion. The class's primary emphasis will be on close readings of short labor studies texts, historical studies of work, and workers' testimony about their lives.
A previous background in U.S. history is recommended but not required.
Class assignments and grading
Short papers based on close readings of text, and a final exam.