Current Newsletter

President’s Letter

Dear fellow members of the Working Class Studies Association,

It is with great pleasure that I write to you as president of the Working Class Studies Association.  I am truly honored to have been elected to the office, and hope to spend my time engaged in projects and efforts that will make lasting change, however modest, for the years to come.  More specifically, I am interested in shoring up and strengthening our foundation so that we can continue to strive toward the goals we articulated at our founding in 2005.

In case you haven’t look at those goals in a while, they include promoting critical conversations, dialogues, and debates about issues important to the field of working class studies and its practitioners, as well as providing opportunities and spaces for people to share their work.  When I think about those goals, one of the things that concerns me more and more is our responsibility, as an organization, to make sure that the voices of the next generation of academics, artists, activists, independent scholars, workers, and students are represented in those conversations and have a place at the table, so to speak.  We need their presence and their contributions, and we should not expect that the process of attracting and retaining them will occur without concerted, thoughtful effort on our part.

We made a very concrete gesture toward this end at the 2014 How Class Works conference, organized by Michael Zweig and held on the campus of SUNY-Stony Brook, by hosting a meet-and-greet reception for graduate students and newcomers prior to the formal opening of the conference. According to WCSA secretary and steering committee member Michele Fazio, who greeted attendees along with Alicia Williamson, Katherine Kidd, and Sara Appel, the event was a rousing success, attended by around 50 people, newcomers and “old-timers” alike.  She attested to the value of the event, saying that it was a great way for people to make connections and network before the conference began, in ways that paid off in the number, quality and depth of conversations that occurred across the subsequent three days.  Less tangibly, perhaps, but no less importantly, it conveyed the message that the organization is welcoming to all.  We hope to do something similar at the 2015 conference at Georgetown, and into the foreseeable future.

Along similar lines, this year we will be continuing the Young Scholars and Activists Initiative begun last year during Barbara Jensen’s presidency.  We awarded seven grants, to Chase Bollig, Robin Brooks, Alana Glaser, Heidi Jones, Meadow Jones, and Raul Perez, all of whom are graduate students or recent graduates whose work represents a variety of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.  The awards were made based on the merit of the proposals they submitted to the Stony Brook conference; their work represents the future of the field, and it is important to recognize and nurture it.  It is my firm belief that both the YSAI awards and the meet-and-greet reception are efforts that help us work toward multiple of our goals, both materially and symbolically.  More importantly, I hope that these efforts will strengthen our organization by increasing and deepening ties among our  members.

For these (and myriad other) reasons, I hope to see many of you at next year’s conference, scheduled for May 28-31.  In one sense, the 2015 conference represents a return to the familiar, being organized as it is by Sherry Linkon, founding member and first president of this organization.  Sherry, along with John Russo, former directors of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University, organized and hosted many working-class studies conferences at YSU, with the last one being held in 2005.  We are extremely pleased that Sherry spearheaded efforts to host the conference at her current institution, Georgetown University, where she is Professor of English and Director of Writing Curriculum Initiatives.  But this conference also takes the Working Class Studies Association into new territory, because it is being organized as a joint conference of the WCSA and the Labor and Working Class History Association.  This is an exciting opportunity to explore our shared intellectual and political interests, and perhaps to discover new ones; I, for one, am looking forward to it.

All my best,

Christie Launius

Treasurer’s Report

Cherie Rankin 

The WCSA has a total of $22,539.73 in our accounts, with the membership drive approaching.  Please note that you can renew your memberships online at the WCSA website through PayPal, or you can also print the form and mail a check to me at:

Cherie Rankin

PO Box 264

Emden, IL 62635

Secretary’s Report

Michele Fazio

The Elections Committee reported the results of July’s election: Tim Strangleman, President Elect; Michele Fazio, Secretary; Tim Libretti and Matthew Kendrick, Steering Committee members; and Jack Metzgar, Elections Committee.   Since then, the Steering Committee has been engaged in a number of initiatives, including membership outreach and establishing the 2015 Young Scholar’s and Activists Initiative (YSAI) committee, which will be composed of Tim Strangleman, Matt Kendrick, and Christie Launius.  The Communications Committee (Michele Fazio, Tim Strangleman, Alicia Williamson, and Christie Launius) is making progress in revitalizing the website and will consult with Sherry Linkon, former website editor, to increase visual content and incorporate elements of the newsletter.  Alicia Williamson will now serve as the WCSA’s new website editor.

Centers and Programs

 

Texas Center for Working-Class Studies

Housed at Collin College in Plano, Texas, the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies will be hosting a conference on Working-Class Studies and Labor History at Collin’s Spring Creek Campus on Friday, April 10, 2015.  …

Book Notes

eight mileEight Mile High (Michigan State U.), Jim Ray Daniels

This is the fourth book of Jim Daniels’ stories set in working-class Detroit and its “lower peninsula” environs.  According to reviewers, it has the same “mordant blue-collar humor,” characters with “hardscrabble …

Book Reviews

 

Waiting at the DeadRebecca Schumejda, Waiting at the Dead End Diner (Bottom Dog Press, 2014)

By Nathaniel Heggins Bryant, Lycoming College

In Waiting at the Dead End Diner, poet Rebecca Schumejda draws on her decade-long waitressing experience to explore the “geography …

Member News

Ken Boas has been elected chair of the board of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions—USA, an organization founded ten years ago in Jerusalem, now with chapters around the world, that advocates and educates for Palestinian rights and the end of the Occupation.  In September Ken presented a paper, “Reframing the Conflict: A New Narrative for a Just Peace” at the US Campaign to End the Occupation Conference in San Diego.

Jeanne Bryner has a new chapbook of poems coming out this fall – Early Farming Women published by Finishing Line Press in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Jim Ray Daniels recently published a new book of short stories, Eight Mile High (Michigan State U. Press), about growing up in a working-class community on the edge of Detroit.  (See “Book Notes” for more.)

Michele Fazio’s Voices of the Lumbee has won two awards – the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award and first place in the Broadcast Education Association’s District 2 Faculty Video Competition.  The documentary film, written and co-produced by Fazio, also was featured in the New York-based arts program Bare Feet with Mikela Mallozzi.

Emma Howes has successfully defended her dissertation, “Down From the Mountain and into the Mill: Literacy Sponsorship and Southern Appalachian Women in the New South,” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This fall, she joined Coastal Carolina University as an Assistant Professor in English (Composition and Rhetoric).

Lita Kurth’s essay, “This is the Way We Wash the Clothes” won a Best Essay prize in the 2014 Diana Woods Memorial Essay Award contest sponsored by Antioch University’s Master’s in Fine Arts program.  The essay was originally presented at the WCSA 2013 Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.  You can read it here.

Christie Launius’ has co-authored a new textbook, Threshold Concepts in Women’s and Gender Studies: Ways of Seeing, Thinking, and KnowingIt will be published by Routledge in January 2015.

Tim Libretti’s essay, “Beyond the Innocence of Globalization: The Abiding Necessity of Carlos Bulosan’s Anti-Imperialist Imagination,” has been published in Kritika Kultura No. 23.   He has also begun writing for the website PoliticusUSA, focusing on issues of income inequality.

David Walls’ new book, Community Organizing: Fanning the Flame of Democracy, will be released in November by Polity Books.

 

Awards

The Working-Class Studies Association is ready to accept nominations (including self-nominations) for awards covering the year of 2014.  We invite nominations of excellent work that provides insightful and engaging depictions of working-class life, culture, and movements; addresses issues related to …

The Working-Class Studies Association aims to develop and promote multiple forms of scholarship, teaching, and activism related to working-class life and cultures.