In 1971, Studs Terkel published a collection of interviews with Americans who worked in every corner of the economy. His goal was to create a comprehensive picture of what it meant to work in America. It was called, simply, Working.

In this class, we use this book as a starting point for discussing what work has meant in the United States in the post-WWII era.

During our “Working” unit, we use excerpts from the following texts:


  • Ken Robinson, “How Schools Kill Creativity”
  • Mike Rowe, “Learning from Dirty Jobs”
  • Dirty Jobs (Discovery Channel series)
  • Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
  • Office Space
  • Fight Club
  • The Office (American TV series)


  • Douglas Coupland, Generation X
  • Ron Alsop, The Trophy Kids Grow Up
  • Homer Hickham, October Sky (excerpt)

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