Alice Whittenburg – The Journal of Working-Class Studies – December 2021

This quote from Alice Whittenburg appeared in her article ‘A Dozen Images Made in or Near Youngstown, Ohio, That Show Why People Need Both Jobs and Fish’ in the December 2021 issue of the Journal of Working-Class Studies.

The articles states that cultural geographers have shown that depictions of a landscape contribute to its meaning(s). Linkon & Russo (2002) have examined the landscape of Youngstown through the lens of images and stories. In this article Whittenburg focuses more specific on the landscape of the Mahoning River examining a dozen images created in or near Youngstown since the early twentieth century. Whittenburg explores how the images in the piece help to clarify the way the conflict between economy and ecology has played out in the Mahoning Valley.

You can read the full article here. Co-edited by Sarah Attfield and Liz Giuffre (University of Technology Sydney), the journal operates as an independent, adjudicated, open-access, scholarly publication alongside WCSA. For more information or to view the journal click here.

Wendy L. Wright – The Journal of Working-Class Studies – December 2021

This is a quote from Wendy L. Wright’s article Running Head: Bail, Reform, and Foucault’s Dangerous Individual published in the December 2021 issue of the Journal of Working-Class Studies.

In this paper, Wright uses a political theory approach to argue that racial capitalist ideologies that construct accused individuals as specifically ‘dangerous’ impede just policy transformation. She centralizes Michel Foucault’s genealogy of the ‘dangerous individual’ as a frame for analyzing the logics and movement of the dangerous figure, and then re-situates the concept of the dangerous person in the contemporary US bail context. Wright argues that the dominance of oppressive ideologies in bail discourse demonstrates the pervasive race and class biases that persist in the criminal justice apparatus, even in policy reform approaches that promise unbiased outcomes like algorithmic assessments.

To read Wright’s full paper, click here! For more information on the Journal of Working-Class Studies, you can visit us here or head on over to the journal’s website where you can browse our open source, publicly accessible material or submit your work for consideration. 

Where in the World?

Where in the world are our members from and where are they now? As part of the Working Class Studies Association website redesign project we are hoping to include a map that visually represents where our members are located & where they are from originally. Please share your responses on our Google form by 7th January 2022 if you would like to be represented. 

You will remain anonymous on the map. Email wcsasite@gmail.com with any questions.

Google form: https://forms.gle/C9TYH2qaExDW9EvDA

Thanks so much everyone and happy new year!

Matti Ron Wins the Literary London Society Prize for Best Paper Presented by a Postgraduate Researcher at Their 2019 Conference

WCSA member and current Elections Chair Matti Ron has won the Literary London Society prize for best paper presented by a postgraduate researcher at their 2019 conference.

Ron’s paper ‘Zadie Smith’s and James Kelman’s counter-narratives of working-class (de)composition in post-industrial London’ stood out to judges, and received the following feedback:

A lively and sharp-sighted account which developed an innovative approach to Smith and Kelman’s sounding out of the death of the working-class political subject. This evaluative enquiry is additionally prescient during times ‘after Brexit’ when questions of race, ethnonationalism, and the ‘nativist instrumentalisation’ of class are uppermost in public and political discourse.

The focus on ‘lost radicalism’ is a fascinating topic – one that is intently cross-disciplinary in its attention to tracing ‘existential angst’, detachment and destitution within British society. There is a value in this work and the way it traces the attempt to build counter-narrative to ‘nativist notions of class’ in post-crisis times (now post- post- crisis!). I was convinced by the argument that such a process of ‘constructive deconstruction’ also has a role in identifying new forms of class solidarity, affiliation and self-definition.

Congrats to Matti!

2020 Working-Class Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Janet Zandy

PRESS RELEASE

July 21, 2020

CONTACT:

Terry Easton, past WCSA president

The WCSA, an international network of scholars, activists, and artists interested in working-class issues, offers lifetime achievement awards to those who have made significant, long-running contributions to the field of Working-Class Studies.

Janet Zandy’s body of work fuses the lived experience of working-class people with theoretical sophistication and commitment to democratic ideals. For over thirty years, her scholarship has provided foundational ideas and texts for the emergence of working-class studies as a field. In Calling Home: Working-Class Women’s Writing (1990), Zandy challenges canonical notions of literary value when introducing readers to the lived and imagined experiences of working-class and poor women writers. In Liberating Memory: Our Work and Our Working-Class Consciousness (1994), Zandy reveals the power of memory and identity as a usable past through voices of academic and cultural workers from working-class origins who had migrated to middle-class institutions or settings. Emerging from an expanded version of the 1995 special issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly on class, What We Hold in Common: An Introduction to Working-Class Studies (2001) connects the visionary with the possible through scholarship, creative writing, educational initiatives, syllabi, and bibliographies from new and established writers and workers. In Hands: Physical Labor, Class, and Cultural Work (2004, Honorable Mention, John Hope Franklin Prize in American Studies), Zandy creates a juncture where seemingly disparate voices and events coalesce to enable meditation on the architectonics of human bodies, particularly workers’ hands, the body part that provides “lucid maps to the geography of human complexity” (1). Zandy’s collaboration with Nicholas Coles, American Working-Class Literature: An Anthology (2007), offers an astounding collection of 150 non-canonical and canonical writers of varied races, ethnicities, genders, geographies, and religious backgrounds across 400 years of cultural expression, and has become an essential sourcebook for working-class studies pedagogy and historical reclamation.

After developing a course in photography and writing in 2005, Zandy turned her scholarship toward photography, probing how class shapes the history of photography. She published two articles in exposure, “Photography and Writing: A Pedagogy of Seeing,” and “Seeing Beyond Dirt: The Language of Working-Class Photography,” a study of photography by and about workers that received the Society for Photographic Education award for outstanding historical and cultural writing on photography in 2010.  Zandy received an Ansel Adams Research Fellowship and Peter E. Palmquist award for research on women photographers Hansel Mieth and Marion Palfi at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona. Her book on Mieth and Palfi, Unfinished Stories: The Narrative Photography of Hansel Mieth and Marion Palfi, was published in 2013. Zandy also published on photographer Milton Rogovin in New Labor Forum and Transformations. Forthcoming in the Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies is “Mapping Working-Class Art,” a chapter that led to her current project, Common Art/Common-ing Art, a book on class, art, and workers that identifies power relationships and constitutive elements of working-class art expressed in presentations of laborers, slaves, peasants, servants, sowers, planters, and reapers in printmaking, painting, photography, and sculpture.

Pedagogy is another component of Zandy’s contribution to the field of working-class studies. As a professor in the English Department at Rochester Institute of Technology (now Professor Emerita), where for many years she taught up to nine courses a year, Zandy guided several generations of undergraduate students through analysis of the intersections of class, gender, race, sexuality, and environmental justice. With a devotion to teaching as energetic as her attention to writing, Zandy’s students learned how to see themselves as part of something larger. In an end-of-the-semester reflection in her New American Literature course, a student responded to Zandy’s prompt drawn from Antonio Gramsci’s  ideas about the purpose of education (“to know oneself better through others and to know others better through oneself”): “We rarely are pressed to look at the world through other people’s eyes. We are allowed to sit in our quiet comfort zones and dwell on our own lives. Therefore, when given a book where the characters’ lives are so dramatic and filled with emotion the only way to give justice to the work is to leave our comfort zones and become a part of the text ourselves.” Akin to Lewis Hine’s work with a camera, so too did Zandy’s classroom labor enable students to cultivate a new way of seeing, a class-consciousness, and a sense agency.

In 2020, as we create a world – a text – where empathy bends the moral arc toward justice, Zandy’s scholarship, historical reclamation, and pedagogical legacy are central to a field that demands answerability through dialogic approaches to texts, art, and political terrain, widely defined. Read one of her books, talk to her at one of our conferences, or join her in Rochester, New York, for Workers Memorial Day, an annual public gathering that commemorates the thousands of workers whose deaths, injuries, and occupational illnesses result from their jobs; in this heteroglossic space where workers names are read aloud, testimony unites the living and the dead where the past is remembered, current struggles are acknowledged, and worker safety is demanded.

In 1995, at the Working-Class Lives/Working-Class Studies Conference in Youngstown, Ohio, Zandy presented on “traveling working class.” She describes the conference as a “jubilant occasion” where she and others felt a “new trajectory” that “validated the importance of carrying the best of working-class values, ethos, and knowledge into the academy, and of using that rich, complex, even discordant heritage to expand what constitutes knowledge.” To her delight she realized that people no longer had to work in isolation, but instead had allies, “builders from inside and outside working-class lived experience” (What We Hold in Common ix). Since that touchstone 1995 conference, Zandy’s light continues to shine through generations of scholars she has mentored. In her oeuvre, Zandy illustrates that working-class voices are tools of resistance to class domination and cultural elision. Let’s cinch up our shoes and keep traveling working class as we honor Janet Zandy for her work in forging a multi-voiced, mellifluent, and discordant collective designed by, for, and in the interests of working-class people.

~Terry Easton

Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies Now Available for Pre-Order

The Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies is now available for pre-order from the publisher’s website here.

The book is edited by three former Working-Class Studies Association Presidents, Michele Fazio, Christie Launius, and Tim Strangleman. From the publisher’s website, the book:

is a timely volume that provides an overview of this interdisciplinary field that emerged in the 1990s in the context of deindustrialization, the rise of the service economy, and economic and cultural globalization. The Handbook brings together scholars, teachers, activists, and organizers from across three continents to focus on the study of working-class peoples, cultures, and politics in all their complexity and diversity. The Handbook maps the current state of the field and presents a visionary agenda for future research by mingling the voices and perspectives of founding and emerging scholars.

The Handbook features contributions from dozens of WCSA members! You can see the Table of Contents here.

Soliciting Nominations for the 2020-2021 WCSA Election of Officers and Committees

The WCSA Elections Committee is now accepting nominations for the following positions:

  • President – (three years; president-elect/president/past-president)

  • At-Large Steering Committee Members (two years; two vacancies)

  • Chair of the Elections Committee (three years; chair elect/chair/past chair)

  • Chair of the Working-Class Academics Section (three years; chair-elect/chair/past elect)

Nominations will remain open through July 23, 2020. Please submit your nominations, including self-nominations, as soon as possible. If you are nominating someone other than yourself, please make sure that the person nominated is willing to serve before submitting a nomination. When submitting a nomination please include the candidate’s name, the position for which they are being nominated, academic/professional status, contact email and a short biography.

Please email your nomination to the Chair of the WCSA Elections Committee Matti Ron at m.ron@uea.ac.uk

Please note that ballots will only be sent to current WCSA members. You can check your membership status and renew at this link.

Solidarity,

The WCSA Elections Committee

Advocating for Protection for Students and Front Line Workers in the COVID-19 Economy

Working-Class Studies Association Secretary Colby King, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, published a an op-ed this past week in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal advocating for better protections for students and front line workers in the COVID-19 economy. Colleges and universities have taken on tremendous efforts to slow the spread of the virus by moving instruction online. To effectively slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, though, we all need our communities to join in the efforts as well, he argues.

The op-ed is published on the Herald-Journal’s website here. An unedited draft of the letter which includes several embedded links to useful resources is available here: Upstate Covid Op-ed 6.

Are you supporting students and workers in your community? Please share your stories with WCSA! Tweet at us @wcstudies or e-mail us at wcstudies@gmail.com And, feel free to adapt this letter for your own advocacy as appropriate!

WCSA Conference Postponed until 2021

WCSA members and friends,

All of us in WCSA hope that you are healthy, and doing as well as possible, given the state of our world.

We had hoped to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University by gathering together in that place, which has such significance for our organization, for our conference this year. However, we have decided to postpone until next year–we will not meet in person this year. Please look for further details, but we are planning now to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the Center in Youngstown, likely during May 2021.

Our activism, research, teaching, and our acts of solidarity in the world are always important, yet they seem especially keen now. How we walk through global crises concerns us a great deal. As an organization, we will continue to be a space–both literal and virtual–for thinking together about what we are facing collectively. As an organization focused on working-class issues, in all their intersectional ways, let us remember, think about, talk about, and teach about the ways that this crisis is also about class inequality. As scholars, and for our students and community allies, we face an unprecedented disruption of our lives. What would it mean to center working-class solidarity as we dedicate ourselves to a deeper mission for our work? What kinds of mutual aid are best suited to help us through a pandemic? How can we build institutions and systems that value solidarity and health over profit? How can we build a better world in the wake of this pandemic?

As we walk this path, we hope to glimpse in our activism, research, and teaching what a better world may be. Please visit us here on the WCSA website to see updates about what our members are doing, and to join or renew your membership. Please also check out the Journal of Working-Class Studies, and look for our next issue this June.

We hope you are safe and healthy. We will also look forward to seeing you in Youngstown in 2021.

Solidarity,

Scott Henkel, President
Cherie Rankin, Past President
Allison Hurst, President-Elect
Working-Class Studies Association

Apply now for WCSA’s 2020 Young Scholars and Activists Fellowship Program

WCSA provides travel funding support for to encourage scholars, activists, and organizers early in their careers whose work has the potential for advancing Working-Class Studies as a field and to help defray some costs in attending the WCSA Conference through the Young Scholars and Activists Fellowship Program (YSAF) grant.

If you are interested in applying for this grant for the upcoming WCSA conference at Youngstown State University in May, 2020, please see application instructions below and send your completed application to wibblet68@gmail.com.

The application form is available here 2020 Travel Grant Application.

  • Early career status is defined as being a graduate student, in the first year or two of a post-graduation academic job, or in the first year or two of a job as an activist or organizer.
  • Awardees will be chosen each year from among those whose conference proposals are accepted for presentation at the Working-Class Studies Association conference.
  • Conference attendance is required to receive the fellowship. Recipients will be reimbursed via Pay Pal or an American bank check.

To apply, please identify your career status and write a brief narrative (500 words) describing how your work contributes to the field.  Please send your application, including contact information, as a pdf to wibblet68@gmail.com by February 20, 2020. Award notifications will be sent by April 15, 2020.

Those who would like to support this program may consider making a designated donation to our travel and/or YSAF funds. You may do so through Paypal.