blue collar

The economy has been brutal to American workers for several decades. The promise at the heart of the American Dream is withering away. While onlookers assume those suffering in marginalized working-class communities will instinctively rise up, the 2016 election threw into sharp relief how little we know about how the working-class translate their grievances into politics.

In "We're Still Here: We're Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America," Jennifer M. Silva tells a deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics that will endure long after the Trump administration. Drawing on over 100 interviews with black, white, and Latino working-class residents of a declining coal town in Pennsylvania, Silva reveals how the decline of the American Dream is lived and felt.

Jennifer M. Silva is an Assistant Professor in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Book Cover for "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" and author photo of Ocean Vuong
Author photo by Tom Hines

Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, “On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling written as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. 

Andre Dubus III’s first novel in a decade, “Gone So Long,” is a story filled with thrilling tension and heartrending empathy.

It tells about a father, estranged for the worst of reasons, driven to seek out the daughter he has not seen in decades - exploring how the wounds of the past afflict the people we become.

In “Skeleton Crew,” Dominique Morisseau’s third play in her Detroit Cycle, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. Power dynamics shift, and they are pushed to the limits of survival. When the line between blue collar and white collar gets blurred, how far over the lines are they willing to step?

The Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, Vermont presents “Skeleton Crew” through August 4, directed by Jade King Carroll.

We are joined by actors Mirirai Sithole, Gabriel Lawrence, and Leland Fowler.

In Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America.