Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English: English Studies
Fan the Flames of Discontent: Contemporary Labor Literature and Social Movements balances a literary approach to textual analysis with socially grounded reflections on diverse worker organizations. Chapters analyze Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead, Helena Maria Viramontes's Under the Feet of Jesus, and Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day alongside worker-writers' texts and testimonies, such as Fran Leeper Buss and MarÃa Elena Lucas's Forged under the Sun / Forjada bajo el sol and The Heat: Steelworker Lives and Legends, a collection of United Steelworkers' Institute for Career Development writings. In each of five chapters, this dissertation respectively discusses how literature can enact an inclusive definition of labor, amplify effaced labor voices, popularize workers' counter-histories of labor conflict, provide an imaginative space for envisioning global social movements, and contribute to university students' and union workers' labor education. Each chapter in this dissertation grounds analyses of literary texts with discussion of parallel contemporary events and social movements. Specifically, thanatopolitical manipulations in Silko's Almanac of the Dead are analyzed alongside the ongoing biopolitical expulsion and social rebellion occurring in Cananea, Mexico. Viramontes's Under the Feet of Jesus and Buss and Lucas's Forged under the Sun / Forjada bajo el sol are contextualized through community-based farmworkers' organizations that combat injustice by promoting public awareness and fostering collective representation. Pynchon's narrativization of the Colorado Coalfield War in Against the Day is related to workers' and communities' living memory of the Ludlow Massacre in present-day southern Colorado. Silko's, Viramontes's, and Pynchon's literary visions of global counter-hegemonic social movements are analyzed in relation to contemporary United States labor organization and cross-border solidarity programs. Finally, considering multiple texts, including The Heat: Steelworker Lives and Legends, a collection of rank-and-file union member's create writings, this dissertation provides examples of how to use literature to further university students' and union workers' labor education.
Wills, Ericka Rae, "Fan the Flames of Discontent: Contemporary Labor Literature and Social Movements" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 480.