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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

National Working Class Studies Association Conference
at Macalester June 14-17, 2007

Class Matters: Working Class Culture and Counter-Culture

St. Paul, Minn. - “Class Matters: Working Class Culture and Counter-Culture,” is the title of the 12th national conference of the Working Class Studies Association (WCSA) conference, Thursday – Sunday, June 14-17, at Macalester College.  Macalester History Professor Peter Rachleff is the association’s president. 

Working Class Studies is an emerging field at colleges and universities in the United States, following in the steps of African American Studies, Women's Studies, Ethnic Studies, and other fields which emerged in the 1970s and 1980s.  WCSA members include: scholars of working class history, sociology, literature; faculty and students, both undergraduate and graduate, from working class backgrounds; faculty who teach at working class-oriented institutions and artists, poets, and musicians who seek to create within a working class aesthetic. 

More than one 150 scholars, students, labor activists, poets, teachers, and artists from across the United States, as well as Great Britain, Nigeria, South Africa, and Brazil will come together to explore the conference's central theme, "Working Class Culture and Counter-Culture."  The idea will be to document, celebrate, and critique the creation, representations, and experiences of working class culture.  Sessions have been organized on labor history, pedagogy, working class literature, labor activism, music and art and the position of working class students and faculty in higher education.  There will also be two nights of poetry and music, a visual art show, and a film festival which will include not only new documentaries produced in the U.S., Great Britain, and Israel, but also films in progress introduced and discussed by their directors.

Some of the featured plenaries include: a celebration of the life and work of the late author Tillie Olsen, which will include her daughter, Julie Olsen Edwards; the unveiling of The Big Red Songbook, a contextualization and appreciation of the role of music in the history of the Industrial Workers of the World, featuring two of its editors, Sal Salerno and David Roediger; a discussion about the conference's central theme; and an "activist roundtable" which will include the leading Black trade unionist from Great Britain, local immigrant labor organizers and practitioners of critical, class-oriented pedagogies.
The conference program and registration information can be found at  Single events may be attended without pre-registration, although donations are appreciated. 

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,884 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.