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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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Teaching Labor History on the Middle Ground

Teaching Labor History on the Middle Ground

Connecting the Campus, the Union Hall, and the Community

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter 8 Teaching Labor History on the Middle Ground
Source:
Civic Labors
Author(s):

Peter Rachleff

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.003.0011

In this chapter, the author expands our definition of the classroom based on his more than three decades of experience teaching labor and African American history to undergraduate students at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. More specifically, he emphasizes the pedagogical and political benefits of teaching on the “middle ground”—those creative spaces in which people from different walks of life share common experiences and build connections. The author explains how he and his colleagues turned to the arts, film, and theater to connect liberal arts students, union activists, and community members. He also describes his role in creating these middle grounds through Untold Stories, a community-based labor history program, and through his cofounding of the East Side Freedom Library in Saint Paul. Finally, he considers the importance of educators' unions for education and political engagement.

Keywords:   teaching, Macalester College, arts, film, theater, labor history, East Side Freedom Library, educators' unions, education, political engagement

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