- “Written for the National Labor Tribune”: Community Formation through Poetry in Pittsburgh’s Labor Newspaper
- Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association
- Midwest Modern Language Association
- Volume 48, Number 1, Spring 2015
- pp. 19-43
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- Additional Information
“‘Written for the National Labor Tribune’: Community Formation through Poetry in Pittsburgh’s Labor Newspaper” argues that the poetry in the nineteenth-century newspaper the National Labor Tribune acted as a space for public dissent in the lives of the laborers who were readers of the paper. Like most nineteenth-century newspapers the paper contained literature; however, unlike most nineteenth-century papers, the National Labor Tribune printed literature from readers all over the country who were not professional writers but were working-class laborers. Those laborers, who doubled as amateur poets, wrote into the paper and corresponded with each other to form a network outside of the mainstream circulation of print culture. The readers of the paper used this network to establish their own community where they voiced support for labor organizations, critiqued business practices of their employers, and described their lived experiences. In a time that saw the growth of corporations and repeated clashes between laborers and industrialists, the National Labor Tribune gave its readers a space to voice their concerns through literature. The poets of the Labor Tribune used writing to solidify the community of laborer brought together by the paper and to imagine the possibility of change in labor practices through the collective action encouraged by the paper.