Working-Class Literature

Resources

These sites provide a wide range of resources -- bibliographies, lists of writers and works, links to texts, and collections of images, sound files, and documents.

The Labor Heritage Foundation
The Labor Heritage Foundation works to strengthen the labor movement through music and the arts. Includes links to labor songs, artists, musicians and more.

Labor: River Falls Public Library

A list of working-class fiction and non-fiction complied by River Falls Public Library in River Falls, WI.

Steeltown USA: A Digital Library of Poetry, Images, and Documents

This site provides a variety of resources for secondary and college teachers who want to include attention to work and working-class studies in their courses. Many of the materials on this site are featured in Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown, available from the University Press of Kansas.

Union Songs
A searchable website of union songs and poetry. Also includes links to lists of reviews and articles, recordings, books and union support sites.

Voices from the Gaps
Described on the site as, "A collection of author pages dedicated to women writers of color. Each author page presents biographical, critical and bibliographical information about the writer as well as images and quotes pertinent to her life and works. Each page also includes links to other resources on the World Wide Web which contain significant information about that writer."

Women's Studies Quarterly & Teaching Resources
A list of texts for teaching working-class studies from The Feminist Press.

Working-Class Fiction
Complied by Larry Smith, Director Bottom Dog Press. Professor emeritus, BGSU Firelands College (updated February 25, 2009). With thanks to Edwina Pendarvis, Laura Bently, Meridith Sue Willis, Ann Pancake, and Phyllis Wilson Moore. To correct or suggest titles, contact Larry Smith. More links to working-class literature.

Appalachian Fiction

A vital part of working-class literature is that coming from the Appalachian region. Though not neglected in studies, it has seldom been recognized for its particular character and vision. I seek to remedy some of that here by integrating it to the general study and making its cultural character. I have been assisted by writers and critics in the Appalachian Studies area. I invite your input.--Larry Smith

Working Lives Films

A list of working-class films complied by Larry Smith at Bowling Green State University.

Laboring Class Writers Project
Information on more than 1,400 British and Irish laboring-class poets from the period 1700-1900.

Literature of Working Women

Links to literature of working women.

Critical Essays

Articles about working-class literature from academic journals and websites.

"Swirling Voices: Considerations of Working-Class Poetic Property"
Peter J. Grieco. Journal of American Studies of Turkey 2 (1995): 73-79.

"Talking Trash, Talking Class: What's a Working-Class Poetic and Where Would I Find One"
Kathy Lou Schultz. This essay first appeared in Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics, No. 1, Spring, 1998.

"Poems of the Week: Working Class Poetry"
John Stringer, 2000.

"What is Working Class Literature?"

Lew Rosenbaum, July 26, 2002.

 

For more articles and books on Working-Class Literature, see Studies of Working-Class Literature

Publishers/Publications

Websites for publishers and periodicals that specialize in working-class literature.

Bottom Dog Press is an Ohio press run by Larry Smith that publishes works by individual authors as well as anthologies.

The Vulgar Press is "…dedicated to the publication of working-class and other radical forms of writing." Links to books, authors, new releases and more.

The Federation of Worker Writers & Community Publishers (FWWCP) is a non-profit making umbrella organization for writer's groups and community publishers. The FWWCP publishes Federation Magazine, holds an annual Festival of Writing and develops participation in the arts and cultural activities. Includes links to writer organizations and arts and cultural organizations in the UK.

Partisan Press is a not for profit publisher. Its mission is the preservation, expansion, and promotion of the literature of the working class, primarily poetry, which might not find a place in profit-driven publishing channels.

The Blue Cubicle Press is an independent publisher dedicated to giving voice to writers.  Publishes two literary journals, The First Line and Workers Write!, chapbooks in their Overtime series, and more.

Mike Merrill has created Labor Writes from his students contributions at the SUNY Van Arsdale Center.

Themes in Working-Class Literature

LGBT 

 

Writers

We have developed at least partial resources pages for these writers. If you would like to develop a resource page for other working-class writers, please contact Sherry Linkon.

 

Working-Class Writers

Sherman Alexie Etheridge Knight
Dorothy Allison Philip Levine
Rudolfo Anaya Grace Lumpkin
Jimmy Santiago Baca Paul Mariani
Toni Cade Bambara Thomas McGrath
Russell Banks Valerie Miner
Gwendolyn Brooks Toni Morrison
Sterling Brown Tim O'Brien
Raymond Carver: Life and Works Tillie Olsen
Raymond Carver: Critical Perspectives Grace Paley
Carolyn Chute Ann Houston (Lane) Petry
Sandra Cisneros Marge Piercy
Lucille Clifton James Reed
John Fante John Steinbeck
Judy Grahn Helena Maria Viramontes
Woody Guthrie

John Edgar Wideman

Langston Hughes

"Mainstream" Writers Who Address Working-Class Themes

Bob Dylan Flannery O'Connor
William Faulkner William Carlos Williams
Elizabeth Gaskell

 

Sherman Alexie

- The official website. Includes biography, gallery, interviews, news, a complete listing of Sherman’s books, information about his movies, recordings, current projects and more.
- General information, biography, essays and links complied and prepared by Robert M. Luscher and Cary Nelson on the Modern American Poetry website.
- Canku Ota---A Newsletter Celebrating Native America. Features an article about Sherman Alexie and includes a bibliography of his work. June 17, 2000: Issue 12.
- Sending Cinematic Smoke Signals: "An Interview with Sherman Alexie" by Dennis West and Joan M. West. Cineaste v23, n4 (Fall, 1998):28.

Dorothy Allison

- An interview with Dorothy Allison conducted in 1995 at the Zale Writer in Residence Program at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women at Tulane University.
- A webpage dedicated to Dorothy Allison from the Queer Cultural Center. Includes introduction, biography, excerpts, links and gallery.
- Interview with Dorothy Allison by Robert Birnbaum, 1995.
- Interview from Salon.com by Laura Miller. March 31, 1998.

Rudolfo Anaya

- A research and reference guide on the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- Brief biography and Rudolfo Anaya's real audio narration of "Writing the Southwest."
- Classroom Issues and Strategies for teaching Rudolfo Anaya.

Russell Banks

- Russell Banks' biography from Harper Collins.
- Caricature of Russell Banks from the David Levine gallery.

Gwendolyn Brooks

- Biography, essays, interviews complied and prepared by James Sullivan on the Modern American Poetry website.
- A conversation with Gwendolyn Brooks from The Artful Dodge, February 1979.
- Biography and suggested reading list from Thomson Gale.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- Biography, bibliography and tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks written and maintained by The Circle Association.
- Classroom Issues and Strategies for teaching Gwendolyn Brooks.
- Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center at Western Illinois University.
- Tributes, online poetry, critical studies, a Gwendolyn Brooks curriculum, biography and gallery from the Museum of American Poetics.

Sterling Brown

- Biography, essays and illustrations complied and prepared by Cary Nelson and Mark A. Sanders from the Modern American Poetry website.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- A Literary Tribute to Sterling A. Brown from the Howard University Libraries.

Carolyn Chute

- Article from Salon.com "Carolyn Chute's Wicked Good Militia" by W. Garschagen, February 15, 1996.
- Guest article "Bringing our government BACK DOWN TO EARTH" written by Carolyn Chute in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
- An interview with Carolyn Chute from New Democracy Newsletter, March-April 2000.

Sandra Cisneros

- Career information, biographical notes and external links complied and prepared by June Juffer from the Modern American Poetry website.
- Interview with Sandra Cisneros from Identity Theory by Robert Birnbaum, December 4, 2002.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- Interview with Sandra Cisneros by Online NewsHour, includes streaming video. October 15, 2002.
- Audio Interview with Sandra Cisneros from Wired for Books, 1991.
- Biography from Princeton University.

Lucille Clifton

- General information, essays and external links complied and prepared by Cary Nelson from the Modern American Poetry website.
- Biography, bibliography, references and link to poems on Lucille Clifton written and maintained by The Circle Association.
- Classroom Issues and Strategies for teaching Lucille Clifton.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- Biography from the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

Philip Levine

- Links to poems from Contemporary Poetry.
- Excerpt from "Bread of Time" by Philip Levine from The Borzoi Reader online.
- General information, essays, bibliography and external links complied and prepared by Cary Nelson from the Modern American Poetry website.
- Interview with Philip Levine (includes audio) from The Cortland Review, May 1999.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.

Thomas McGrath

- General information, essays, external links, and more complied and prepared by Cary Nelson from the Modern American Poetry website.
- Thomas McGrath papers: Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota.
- "War Resisters' Song" by Thomas McGrath from the Modern and Contemporary American Poetry website.

Valerie Miner

- Includes biography, list of publications and contact information.

Grace Paley

- Lit Chat from Salon.com, "Writing With Both Ears," 1999.
- Writing a Jewish Future: Grace Paley. This public forum features contemporary Jewish writers, including Paley, discussing a range of contemporary Jewish topics.
- Classroom issues and strategies for teaching Grace Paley.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- The Kelly Writers House Fellows Program at the University of Pennsylvania featuring Grace Paley. Includes links to a digital recording of a reading of her work and an audiocast of an interview. February 14-15, 2000.
- Biography and selected bibliography from the New York State Writers Institute at State University of New York.
- Interview with Grace Paley from Salon.com, "All My Habits Are Bad," October 26, 1998.
- Interview with Grace Paley from the NonViolent Activist, "Every Action was Essential," by Phyllis Eckhaus and Judith Mahoney Pasternak, March-April 2000.

Marge Piercy

- Marge Piercy homepage. Includes resume, biography, bibliography, schedule of readings and workshops, criticism and reviews, interviews and essays and samples of works.
- This website is a companion to the PBS special, Fooling With Words with Bill Moyers (Sept. 26, 1999), and includes links to six of Piercy's poems.
- Audio clips of Piercy's poetry from The Cortland Review, February 2000.
- The Borzoi Reader Online featuring Marge Piercy. Includes general information, links to poems, poets on poetry and a conversation with Piercy.
- Classroom issues and strategies for teaching Marge Piercy.

James Reed

- Excerpts from "On the Job: Fiction from the World of Work" an unpublished anthology edited by James Reed.

Helena Maria Viramontes

- Classroom issues and strategies for Helena Maria Viramontes.

John Edgar Wideman

- Salon Interview by Laura Miller, November 1996.
- A research and reference guide from the Perspectives in American Literature website.
- The Kelly Writers House Fellows Program at the University of Pennsylvania featuring John Edgar Wideman. Includes links to a digital recording of a reading of his work and an audiocast of an interview. April 24-25, 2000.