The University of Wisconsin Press

Popular Culture / Womens Studies / Class

Silent Witnesses
Representations of Working-Class Women in the United States
Jacqueline Ellis

Popular Press

This is an analysis of the ways working-class women were represented in government photography and proletarian literature between 1933 and 1945. Using images by Dorothea Lange, Marion Post Wolcott and Esther Bubley, and writing by Meridel Le Sueur and Tillie Olsen, the book investigates how working-class female identity was manipulated to fit the political, moral, and economic perspectives of a middle-class audience.

Ellis argues that even during a period of American history when class politics were an important issue, the debate was intended to advance the idea of a middle-class hegemony. Ellis feels working-class identity should be expressed and discussed by people who are excluded from political, cultural, and academic discussions.

Jacqueline Ellis is the Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at New Jersey City University.  Her writing on constructions of working-class and gender identity in visual and popular culture has been published in the Feminist Review, and the History of Photography. She is also the co-editor of Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy and co-ordinates “Speaking Our Stories: The NJCU Oral History Project.”

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June 1998
LC: 97-003115 HD
270 pp.   6 x 9   24 b/w photos

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Paper $18.95 t
ISBN 978-0-87972-744-4
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Cloth $49.95 t
ISBN 978-0-87972-743-7
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