Michael Szalay is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at University of California, Irvine.
The Workfare State challenges the conventional understanding of the development of modern public assistance policy. New Deal and Great Society Democrats expanded federal assistance from the 1930s to the 1960s, according to the standard account. After the 1980 election, the tide turned and Republicans ushered in a new conservative era in welfare politics. Bertram argues that the decisive political struggles took place in the 1960s and 1970s, when Southern Democrats in Congress sought to redefine the purposes of public assistance in ways that would preserve their region's political, economic, and racial order. She tells the story of how the South—the region with the nation's highest levels of poverty and inequality and least generous social welfare policies—won the fight to rewrite America's antipoverty policy in the decades between the Great Society and the 1996 welfare reform. Their successes provided the foundation for leaders in both parties to build the contemporary workfare state—just as deindustrialization and global economic competition made low-wage jobs less effective at providing income security and mobility.
Contributors. Stanley Fish, Phyllis Franklin, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Henry A. Giroux, Darryl J. Gless, Gerald Graff, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, George A. Kennedy, Bruce Kuklick, Richard A. Lanham, Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Alexander Nehamas, Mary Louise Pratt, Richard Rorty, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
This casebook for the story includes an introduction by the editor, a chronology of the author's life, the authoritative text of the story itself, comments and letters by O'Connor about the story, critical essays, and a bibliography. The critical essays span more than twenty years of commentary and suggest several approaches to the story--formalistic, thematic, deconstructionist-- all within the grasp of the undergraduate, while the introduction also points interested students toward still other resources. Useful for both beginning and advanced students, this casebook provides an in-depth introduction to one of America's most gifted modern writers.