Work Stories

How has “work” and our attitude towards it figured in the both the popular and the radical imagination over two hundred years? Starting with the Industrial Revolution in Britain, this eight-week investigation will use literature, philosophy, sociological studies and historical documents to investigate labor in its diverse global incarnations over the past two centuries. Throughout the course, students will become familiar with the major topics and theories in the comparative study of work. Areas of investigation will include the industrial and pastoral novel, the sociology of work, Marxist theories of work, slavery, fugivity and marronage, the refusal of work, feminist approaches to work, Fordism and the assembly line, material and immaterial labor, the “work” of art, cognitive capitalism, global care-work and the politics of housework. Texts we will investigate together will include works by Dickens, Gaskell, Hardy, Marx and Engels, Benjamin, Chaplin, Satoshi Kamata, the Detroit factory workers, Sadiya Hartmann, Neil Roberts, Maurizio Lazaratto, Franco Berardi, Antoni Negri, Silvia Federici and the International Wages for Housework Movement.

Anne Mulhall:

In 2016-2017 Anne Mulhall was Artemis A.W. and Martha Joukowsky Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Literature at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. She completed a PhD in Comparative Literature (Cultural and Critical Theory focus) at King's College London in December 2015. She has an MA in Comparative Literature from New York University and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin, where she also completed her BA in English and Philosophy. Her current work addresses a series of questions surrounding the culture of information, work, and human agency in contemporary European and US thought.