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Labor History Seminar
History 498
Fall 2014

Professor: Steve Estes Phone: 707.664.2424
Office: Stevenson 2070 D
Office Hours: M/W 2:00-3:00; 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.

John Bowe, Gig
Philip Dray, There is Power in a Union
Scott Nelson, Steel Drivin’ Man
Reg Theriault, How to Tell When You Are Tired
+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 lead the discussion for half of the allotted class time. You must come to consult with me 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. When there are multiple readings in the same week, your review should cover each reading, perhaps comparing and contrasting them. 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 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 8.19
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: A “Noble and Holy Order” 8.26
Required Reading: Dray, There Is Power in a Union, (Intro, Chs. 1-4)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Debate: “Why unionize? Why not?” (19th century)

Week III: Work and Race 9.02
Required Reading: Nelson, Steel Drivin’ Man
Required Listening: Bring in a clip from a song about work and a question for class
Part 1: Discuss Nelson Reading
Part 2: Work and Song

Week IV: The Rise of the House of Labor 9.09
Required Reading: Dray, There is Power in a Union (Chs. 5-7)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Debate: “Did the Ends Justify the Means?: Violence in the Labor Movement”

Week V: Work and Gender 9.16
Required Reading: James W. Martin, “Becoming Banana Cowboys: White-Collar Masculinity, the United Fruit Company and Tropical Empire in Early Twentieth-Century Latin America” Gender and History 25:2 (August 2013): 317-338; and Dorothy Sue Cobble, “A Higher ‘Standard of Life’ for the World: U.S. Labor Women’s Reform Internationalism and the Legacies of 1919,” Journal of American History, 100:4 (March 2014): 1052-2103.
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Academic Writing Workshop

Week VI: Work and Immigration 9.23
Required Reading: Krystyn R. Moon, “On a Temporary Basis: Immigration, Labor Unions, and the American Entertainment Industry, 1880s–1930s,” Journal of American History 99:3 (November 2012): 771-792; and Michael Snodgrass, “Patronage and Progress: The Bracero Program from the Perspective of Mexico,” in Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History, Leon Fink, et al., eds. (Oxford University Press, 2011): 245-266.
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Debate: “A Free Labor Market Requires Open Borders”

Week VII: Work and Foreign Policy 9.30
Donna T. Haverty-Stacke, “‘Punishment of Mere Political Advocacy’: The FBI, Teamsters Local 544, and the Origins of the 1941 Smith Act Case,” Journal of American History 100:1 (May 2013): 68-93; and Daniel Eugene Garcia, “Class and Brass: Demobilization, Working Class Politics, and American Foreign Policy between World War and Cold War,” Diplomatic History 34:4 (August 2010): 681-698.
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Debate: “The Cold War Undermined the American Labor Movement”

Week VIII: Unions Go Mainstream 10.07
Required Writing: Research proposal (1-page on thesis & sources)
Required Reading: Dray, There is Power in a Union (Chs. 8-9)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Research Proposal Workshop

Week IX: Blue Collar Work vs. White Collar Work 10.14
Required Research: Bring in a Dilbert Cartoon about White Collar Work
Required Reading: Reg Theriault, How to Tell When You’re Tired
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Dilbert Cartoon and White Collar Work Discussion

Week X: Work According to Workers 10.21
Required Interview: Kid Interview (age 8-14) “What do you wanna be when you grow up?”
Required Reading: Bowe, et al., Gig (excerpts)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” Discussion

Week XI: Work and Sexuality 10.28
Required Reading: Anne Balay, Steel Closets (Chs. 3 and 5)
Required Viewing: Bring in a 2-3 min. film clip on work (feature film or documentary)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Video Clips: Work and Cinema

Week XII: The Fall of the House of Labor 11.04
Required Reading: Dray, There is Power in a Union (Chs. 10-11)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Video Clip: Roger & Me

Week XIII: Veteran’s Day 11.11 [No Class]
Required Reading: None

Week XIV: Getting Gigs 11.18
Required Reading: None
Required Writing: Term paper intro (2-3 pages) as well as a 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 11.25
Required Reading: None
Part 1: Begin Student Presentations

Week XVI: Student Presentations 12.2
Required Writing: Research Paper and Research Presentation Due
Part 1: Continue Student Presentations

Week XVII: Final Exam 12.9
To Be Announced