WCSA 2021 Conference Program Now Available!

The full program for the WCSA 2021 Conference: Re-Placing Class is now available on our conference website. Many thanks to all of the talented organizers and communications specialists that put this together!


We’re looking forward to convening on Zoom to hear speakers from our international community of activists, artists, and academics.

If you have completed your vaccine regime, and would like to participate in any local conference events in Youngstown, OH, please contact Joseph Varga at jjvarga@iupui.edu or see here for more information!

Check out some of this semester’s best titles! Book Notes Spring 2021 now available

Each semester, the WCSA Board puts together a list of new titles published by and of interest to our members. As you’re wrapping up with grading and need a break from end of semester stress, check out new and exciting work in the field of working-class studies!

Spring 2021 Book Notes

Update on WCSA Conference in Youngstown!

Dear Working Class Studies Members,

As you know, our 2020 conference that was to be held in Youngstown, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the launch of Working Class Studies, was cancelled due to Covid. This year, we are going virtual, but we would still like to have a physical presence in Youngstown to mark last year’s anniversary. Our plan this year is to live stream a roundtable, informal discussion on the founding of the Working Class Studies Association and on the current state of working class studies, from Youngstown at 6PM on June 9th.

We are asking any members of Working Class Studies who have completed their vaccine regime, and who are willing and available to be in Youngstown on June 9 to let us know of their intention to participate. We cannot provide any accommodations, but if you are planning to attend, can recommend places to stay close to the Youngstown Historical Center for History and Labor, where the event will take place.

Please let us know if you will attend by emailing Joseph Varga at jjvarga@iupui.edu

In solidarity,

2021 Working Class Studies Conference Organizing Committee

Roundtable discussion of the Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies

Join us for a roundtable discussion of the new Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies on April 16, 2021 at 11 am – 12:15 pm EST via Zoom.

Advance registration is required.

The Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies is a timely volume that provides an overview of this interdisciplinary field that emerged in the 1990s in the context of deindustrialization, the rise of the service economy, and economic and cultural globalization. The Handbook brings together scholars, teachers, activists, and organizers from across three continents to focus on the study of working-class peoples, cultures, and politics in all their complexity and diversity.  

Panelists include contributors:  

Sherry Linkon, Georgetown University  

Colby King, University of South Carolina Upstate  

Simon Lee, Texas State University  

Allison Hurst, Oregon State University  

And co-editors Michele Fazio, Christie Launius, and Tim Strangleman  

Moderated by Jack Metzgar, Professor Emeritus, Roosevelt University  

Upcoming Deadline! Submissions for 2021 WCSA Conference

The 2020 WCSA Conference has been rescheduled for June 7-9, 2021!

We invite submissions from activists, artists, and scholars that address the conference theme: “Re-placing Class: Community, Politics, Work, and Labor in a Changing World.”

Proposal abstracts for papers, creative works/exhibitions, and roundtables of no more approximately 350 words are due by March 15, 2021. Please email submissions to wcsaconference2020@gmail.com.
Note: If your submission for 2020 was accepted, you do NOT need to re-submit your proposal. You will receive confirmation of your acceptance by March 1st. If you would like to substantially revise your submission, please follow the above guidelines. You can note in your submission that this is a revision.

Check out the full call for papers on our website!

Public Talk: Tim Z. Hernandez, “Searching for the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos: Merging Memory and History.”

Tim Z. Hernandez, an award-winning writer, research scholar, and performer, will give a virtual talk on Tuesday, March 2 at 7 pm (EST), “Searching for the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos: Merging Memory and History,” on his documentary novel, All They Will Call Youwhich tells the story of “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history.” The victims of the 1948 crash included twenty-eight Mexican citizens—farmworkers who were being deported by the U.S. government—who became memorialized in song by Woody Guthrie in “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee).” For nearly seven decades, the identity of these workers would remain unknown until now. Weaving interviews, archives, and photographs, Hernandez’s powerful storytelling recovers their names and work histories, closing the gap between past and present debates on immigration, labor, and workers’ rights. 

Join the meeting using this link: www.uncp.edu/REACHspeaker

Newbrook Labor College — Register Today for Spring 2021!

The Newbrook Labor College, a labor education organization dedicated to creating an inclusive labor movement and moving workers to action, seeks applications for its Spring 2021 semester. This semester, all courses will be held online and cover a range topics of interest to working-class activists, artists, and scholars.

Learn more about how to apply and what to expect at their website.

Call For Papers: The Idea of the Lumpenproletariat

Ben Clarke (UNC Greensboro) and Michael Bailey (University of Essex) invite submissions for a collection of essays from scholars across a range of disciplines. See the full call for papers below!

The Idea of the Lumpenproletariat

Marx and Engels famously use the term lumpenproletariat to describe “that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society.” The concept suggests that the most marginal are not part of the revolutionary class but are in fact more likely to function as a “bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.” As Raphael Samuel noted, the word came to function as an “unproblematic term of abuse” in early twentieth-century Communist discourse, suggesting a relation between political unreliability and moral failings. The precarious were not merely represented as a threat to radical movements but as personally contemptible in ways that drew on conservative ideas of the undeserving poor. One result of this was to reinforce the focus of Marxist theory and practice on a relatively narrowly defined urban, educated, organized industrial working-class.

            The argument that the industrial proletariat is the necessary agent of revolutionary change responds to a particular region and period, to the experience of the Global North in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. These models are less able to accommodate the experience of the Global South or to address what Komlosy calls the current “flexibilization and informalization” of employment. Contemporary theory and practice require concepts able to analyze a variety of histories and respond to new forms of precarity. The Idea of the Lumpenproletariat examines the ways in which literary and cultural analysis contribute to the understanding of the distinct populations produced by neoliberal global capitalism. It analyses the problems the concept of the lumpenproletariat addresses and the ways in which it might be adapted, extended, or replaced. This involves considering whether it provides theoretical insights not available from terms such as “underclass” or “precariat,” and the functions it might serve in both contemporary cultural analysis and political practice.

            The Idea of the Lumpenproletariat will be divided into two sections, one focusing on theoretical questions and the other on specific literary and cultural readings. Possible topics including, but not limited to:

  • The history, theory, and use of the concept of the lumpenproletariat
  • Marxist theories and representations of the itinerant, precarious, and criminal
  • Theories and representations of economic change and social exclusion
  • The lumpenproletariat and the Global South
  • The lumpenproletariat and globalization
  • The lumpenproletariat and ethnicity
  • The lumpenproletariat and gender
  • The lumpenproletariat and sexuality
  • The lumpenproletariat and disability
  • Literary representations of the lumpenproletariat
  • The lumpenproletariat in popular culture
  • The lumpenproletariat and contemporary political practice

Please submit a 500 word abstract to Ben Clarke at b_clarke@uncg.edu by March 1, 2021. Completed chapters should be no more than 7500 words and will be due by September 30, 2021.