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Civic LaborsScholar Activism and Working-Class Studies$
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Dennis Deslippe, Eric Fure-Slocum, and John W. Mckerley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040498

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.001.0001

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The Great Unspoken

The Great Unspoken

Teaching and Learning Working-Class History from the Seminar Room to the Union Hall

Chapter:
(p.113) Chapter 7 The Great Unspoken
Source:
Civic Labors
Author(s):

James R. Barrett

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.003.0010

In this chapter, the author reflects on his more than thirty years of teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to underscore some of the important contributions labor historians have made through their scholarship and teaching, especially when connected to worker outreach and engagement in local conflicts and struggles. Turning his attention to the evolution of his graduate seminar in working-class history, the author shows how an earlier focus on class and unions has been displaced, in part, and enriched by greater attention to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. This shift provides for new understandings of class and points to the need for scholars and teachers to explore workers' individual experiences and emotional lives. The author suggests that labor and working-class historians must consider directing their research toward the largely “hidden history” of the personal and emotional lives of the working class, even as he cautions that doing so presents significant methodological challenges.

Keywords:   teaching, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, labor historians, worker outreach, working-class history, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, working class

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