America's workers have been singing, reciting, performing, telling stories, writing, and publishing for more than three centuries. Ranging from early colonial times to the present, American Working-Class Literature presents more than 300 literary texts that exemplify this tradition. It demonstrates how American working people live, labor, struggle, express themselves, and give meaning to their experiences both inside and outside of the workplace. The only book of its kind, this groundbreaking anthology includes work not only by the industrial proletariat but also by slaves and unskilled workers, by those who work unpaid at home, and by workers in contemporary service industries. As diverse in race, gender, culture, and region as America's working class itself, the selections represent a wide range of genres including fiction, poetry, drama, memoir, oratory, journalism, letters, oral history, and songs. Works by little-known or anonymous authors are included alongside texts from such acclaimed writers as Frederick Douglass, Upton Sinclair, Tillie Olsen, Philip Levine, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Leslie Marmon Silko. A rich selection of contemporary writing includes Martin Espada's poem "Alabanza" about the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.
American Working-Class Literature is organized chronologically into seven sections that highlight key historical and cultural developments in working-class life. The book is enhanced by an editors' introduction, section introductions, and individual head notes for each selection that provide biographical and historical context. A timeline of working-class history, rich illustrations, sidebars, reading lists, and a bibliography of critical commentary are also included. This unique volume is ideal for courses in American literature, cultural and working-class studies, and labor history.