Revolutions at Work


Fall and Winter Quarters, 2001-2

Faculty: Sarah Ryan, 867-6720, Library 2108

Char Simons 867-6710, Library 3228

8 or 12* Quarter Hours Credit — Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Lab I 1050

Many people think that we’re in the middle of a big transformation, a revolution, in the world of work as discussions of automation and globalization dominate the news. Is this really a revolution? What other "revolutions at work" have occurred in the last century? What can we learn from the changes in work and the actions of workers and reformers at the turn of the 20th century Industrial Revolution and in the Depression-era 1930s? This writing-intensive labor studies program will look at three periods during the century when work and its power relations were transformed. We will examine how others wrote about these changes and how we might write about them. What role did advocacy journalism, fiction, poetry, popular essays, and academic writing play in people’s thinking and actions?

Fall quarter, we will focus on the Industrial Revolution and Progressive-era reform of the early 1900s and on the 1930s Depression, especially looking at the rise of labor unions during that period. We'll look at the participation of workers, writers and artists in reform movements -- both workplace-based and broader, political and social efforts.

Winter quarter, we will focus on women’s work as it relates to globalization and the "information age." Starting with an innovative book that traces the history of "Mollie’s Job," our studies will touch on topics such as de-industrialization, the rise of the service sector, African American labor history and the globalization of production. Both quarters will include discussion of consumer-based strategies and alternatives.

Credit for the eight-credit class will be awarded in labor studies, non-fiction writing and U.S. history; 12-credit students will also receive credit in labor journalism.

*There will be a 12-credit option. If you sign up for this, expect to do extra readings, writing assignments, participate in an extra weekly seminar and produce a labor history magazine — approximately 30 hours of work per week will be required. 12-credit students will meet from 5-9 p.m. on Thursdays, in Library 2220, beginning January 10.

New to the program?

In our studies, we will aim to:

  1. Understand how major changes in work systems and power structures are reflected in culture, social philosophy, labor movements and government.
  2. Recognize and evaluate arguments and techniques used by reform writers and organizers in early-20th century United States.
  3. Be able to identify economic and cultural changes occurring in the Industrial Revolution and Great Depression eras and compare these to current conditions.
  4. Do basic historical and economic research using a variety of sources.
  5. Practice and refine techniques in expository and journalistic writing.

    Fall Schedule 
    Winter Schedule
    4-credit syllabus
Books for Winter: Fall quarter class members chose four of the winter books; three are pictured below. The first four on the list are faculty choices. You can buy them at The Evergreen State College Bookstore. If you order them from Powell's through this union web page, the bookstore workers get 10% of the money.

page updated January 22, '02