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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Class, Race, and Labor History

Instructor(s): John Brueggemann, Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

Description: What makes a person think in terms of his class position versus his racial identity? Under what circumstances is racial antagonism a more important social force than class conflict? What are the connections between class and race in power relations? This seminar investigates several crucial, defining moments in United States labor history in which class and race dynamics were both important. Between 1900 and the mid-twentieth century, a number of dramatic social conflicts erupted that reconfigured fundamental political, economic and social relationships. We will begin with a critique of capitalism. Students will then investigate the sources and implications of racial antagonism in the context of class conflict, examining the factors that contribute to interracial solidarity among workers versus interracial strife. Historical events such as the Great Steel Strike of 1919, the Panhandle War of 1927, and the Memorial Day massacre of 1937 will provide the comparative contexts for such investigation. Students will use the intellectual tools of economics, history, literary criticism, political science and sociology will be used to examine these issues.


Course Offered