Edited by Robert Sessions and Jack Wortman
Caught in the whirlwind of the postindustrial revolution, members of today’s labor force look upon the changing job landscape and feel displaced and devalued. Robert Sessions and Jack Wortman have compiled this selection of humanities readings to explore the many ways work shapes and defines us, and to anticipate the ever-changing demands of the contemporary workplace. Although the humanities approach to studying work offers no predictions, statistics, or prognostications, it provides images and visions that aid in understanding the multiple meanings, values, and effects of work.
Working in America is organized into three sections. Section I examines in detail the worldly dimensions that underlie our experiences of work. Its purpose is to help the reader imagine, conceptualize, and deal with issues concerning work. Here the focus is on personal and immediate experiences of work. Section II is concerned with broader social and historical questions and offers a brief look at some of the historical foundations (ancient Greece, medieval Europe, modern times) of contemporary work. To enlarge perspectives on work, Section III presents images of working from other cultures that will challenge the reader to imagine what work will be like in the coming decade—how it will affect our identities and personalities—based on our knowledge of the past and our view of other cultures.
This eclectic volume links the substance and methods of the humanities to the social, ethical, and cultural issues involved in working in America. The diversity of the readings parallels the vast scope of the complex, multifaceted issue of working in America.
“Working in America is both visionary and eminently practical. I highly recommend it not only to classes of students in courses devoted to the subject of work, [but] also as the humanities reader that it is, beautifully centered upon the theme of work, and perhaps for that very reason, accessible and of great interest to students in English and humanities courses of every kind.” — Robert Badra, Community College Humanities Review
“Presents a collection of poems, essays, and excerpts from literary works in order to explore the ways that work shapes and defines workers and to anticipate the changing demands of the contemporary workplace.” — Journal of Economic Literature