Protest & Popular Culture: Women in the U.S. Labor Movement, 1894-1917

Article excerpt

Triece, Mary E. Protest & Popular Culture: Women in the U.S. Labor Movement, 1894-1917. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2001. 304 pp. $30.

Protest & Popular Culture is a theoretically informed cultural analysis that explores the relationship between the labor and suffrage movements and the popular media at the turn of the century. In her persuasive critique, Mary Triece focuses on the use of rhetorical strategies by popular media to perpetuate race, class, and gender inequalities and contrasts these messages with strategies of resistance constructed by female workers. Ultimately, her materialist, feminist approach offers readers valuable insights into ways that women's groups challenge prevailing ideologies and create cultural ties.

What makes this book especially noteworthy to media historians is its extensive use of creative primary sources to explore the ways popular media presented women's issues as well as to document the relationships between working-class women and middle-class suffragists. Protest &Popular Culture focuses on three turn-of-the-century time periods during which issues of class and labor received prominent attention in the press. For Triece, the Pullman strike of 1894-1895 is an important time period to study because middle-class concern for working-class issues increased and suffragists formed an alliance that crossed class boundaries. She also focuses on 1903-1904, because during these years women became active in the labor force and labor activists gained considerable public attention. The final time period, 1909-1917, was a pivotal era of labor unrest; it was a time when thousands of women planned and participated in a variety of labor strikes throughout the United States. …