The immense social inequality today can be traced to economic transformations implemented in the 1970s. These changes not only reshaped the world of commerce but also fundamentally changed the political, social, and cultural spheres. This subordination of all aspects of life under an economic logic is often called neoliberalism.

This seminar examines the literary and cultural responses to this neoliberal age with a particular focus on working-class experiences. We will look at films, TV shows, short stories, novels, and photography to understand the changing portrayals of working-class culture over the last fifty years: Sometimes glorified, sometimes vilified, sometimes spoken about, and oftentimes speaking for themselves.

The seminar also aims to show the plurality of perspectives and voices within the broad notion of “the working class” by pursuing an intersectional approach. We will therefore think about working class in connection with questions of race, gender, able-bodiness, and sexual orientation. This seminar hopes to explore contemporary notions of the working class in the United States.