American Working Class Literature

Course Number: ENG 237
Transcript Title: American Working Class Lit
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: June 6, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisite / Concurrent


ENG 104, ENG 105 and/or ENG 106

Course Description

Introduces and examines literature by and/or about the working class, primarily from an American perspective. Explores how this literature promotes or rejects stereotypes of the working class in its depiction of working class realities. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Recommended: ENG 104, ENG 105 and/or ENG 106. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Analyze working-class literature to recognize the difference between generalizations or stereotypes of the working-class and the realities of individual working-class experience AND apply this analysis to personally held beliefs about class.
  2. Identify and explain significant themes within working-class literature and analyze ways these themes relate to real issues of family, gender and the politics of work AND identify these themes and their influence in one’s own life
  3. Apply the tools of literary analysis to analyze working-class literature 
  4. Write clear, focused, coherent essays about working-class literature for an academic audience, using standard English conventions of grammar and style

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)

Not Addressed

5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include:

  • Informal responses such as quizzes, study questions or journals.
  • Participation in small - and full - group discussion.
  • In-class and out-of-class writing.
  • Formal academic essays.
  • Presentations by individuals and groups.
  • Short and long essay examinations.
  • Close reading exercises using support/evidence.
  • Academic essays that evaluate various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. 

Course Activities and Design

Course activities may consist of lectures, small and large group discussion (onsite and online), guest speakers, short films, informal writing exercises, and formal essays.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course introduces the question of what constitutes the working class in America.  It looks at the confines and fluidity of class identity in American culture and the influence of these questions on literature by/about the working-class.  It examines the ways and reasons that working-class literature has traditionally been marginalized. It examines how literature has challenged and upheld stereotypes and generalizations of the working-class. It looks at the ways working-class literature identifies and illustrates issues of race, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, and educational status. It may expand traditional notions of literary genres (poetry, fiction, drama) to include forms such as letters, memoirs, oral history, songs, speeches, leaflets.  Acquired skills include active, critical reading and literary analysis in both verbal and written forms.