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IDS 101: War on Work: Using the Library

New England Factory Life -- "Bell-time" Homer Winslow (1868)

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Course Description

 Hard work, overwork, and workaholism are an expected part of our wired lives today, and yet who among us does not crave a day or two with nothing at all to do? A positive work ethic has been lauded in many cultures and societies throughout history, but starting in the mid-19th century, with the formation of formalized labor movements and anti-capitalistic economic and political theories in Europe and America, a new set of ideas began to emerge. Laziness, lassitude, the desire for a 10-hour, 8-hour, or even 3-hour workday, and even outright work refusal, rose to the fore as a way of battling exploitation in the face of capitalism's demands. Strike and sabotage emerged as tactics. Our seminar discussions will trace the beginnings of this war on work while constantly connecting back to present-day issues of work resistance. In this interdisciplinary exploration of work refusal, we will laze around with Samuel Johnson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Herman Melville, Arthur Rimbaud, Edward Bellamy, Karl Marx, Paul Lafargue, William Morris, Marcel Duchamp, the Dadaists, the surrealists, Jacques Tati, punk rockers, and many others.

Humanities and Fine Arts Librarian

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Mark O. Hatfield Library Building