Seminar: THe Rhetoric of Work


Course Description

This course examines the rhetoric of work as a site of struggle. For a broad understanding of contemporary rhetorics, the class looks to historical conflicts, specific flash points, and new transformations. The historical arc of the class begins in the era of big unionism and continues through the neoliberal revolution currently evolving. 

Course Content

Specific moments offer the class case studies in social antagonism, such as women's invisible labor, the racialization of poverty, and the refusal of work. Considerable focus is given to recent transformations, including discourses of entrepreneurship, digital and cognitive labor, and socially conscious work. Emphasizing the role of agitation, the class studies a variety of texts and cultural artifacts including public speeches, pamphlets, manifestos, short films, and popular media. Course requirements include class discussion, public wiki participation, and a research project. 

Select Readings

–Robin DG Kelley, Race Rebels
-Dana Cloud, We Are the Union: Democratic Unionism and Dissent at Boeing
-Matthew May, Soapbox Rebellion: The Hobo Orator and the Free Speech Fights of the Industrial Workers of the World, 1909-1916
-Utah Philips and Ani DiFranco, The Past Didn't Go Anywhere
-Miya  Tokumitsu, "In the Name of Love"