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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55393
Doc. No:TL25347
Call number:‭3264883‬
Main Entry:Rob Vaughan
Title & Author:The workers' paradise: Edward Bellamy and the “labor question,” 1888–1898Rob Vaughan
College:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Date:2007
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2007
Page No:321
Abstract:In the 1870s America was largely a nation of farms and small towns controlled by the values of Main Street, including beliefs in individualism, laissez-faire capitalism, and progress. By 1900, however, it was more a country of big cities with a Wall Street ethos and characterized by science and technology, industrialism, urbanization, labor unrest, immigration, and recurring economic depressions. Perhaps the most significant changes were those affecting the workplace and the workers themselves. Longfellow's village smithy had given way to Carnegie's Homestead; the poet's independent Yankee blacksmith had been replaced by armies of factory hands; and his spreading chestnut tree had given way to a forest of smokestacks. What was to be the role of workers in this new industrial system? That was the "labor question." America's efforts to answer this "labor question" during the fin de siécle have been well documented by historians. Yet, they usually overlook the vital role utopian literature played in helping the country adjust to the new position of labor in an industrialized society. Between the 1880s and the 1910s several hundred writers depicted a future America as one great utopia in which most of the workers' problems had been solved. These writers included religious leaders, labor activists, business moguls, parlor radicals, do-gooders, and a smattering of cranks and fools. The most important of these utopian writers was Edward Bellamy, whose bestselling novel Looking Backward (1888) sold millions and triggered a national colloquy on the "labor question." Bellamy's vision of an alternate future allowed countless Americans to conceptualize labor reform within a utopian framework. Whether his readers hailed his vision of the future or condemned it, few were unmoved. Yet, rarely does Bellamy rate more than a passing reference in histories of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Most usually dismiss him as the fomenter of a well-meaning but trivial popular enthusiasm. Although Bellamy's utopia did not come to fruition, it still played an important part in industrializing America. This dissertation is a cultural history of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and its vital role in 19th-century America's effort to answer its "labor question."
Subject:Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Bellamy, Edward; Labor movement; Workers; American studies; American history; American literature; 0323:American studies; 0591:American literature; 0337:American history
Added Entry:D. Stannard
Added Entry:University of Hawai'i at Manoa