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Maximum Feasible ParticipationAmerican Literature and the War on Poverty$
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Stephen Schryer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603677

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.001.0001

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Working-Class Community Action

(p.175) Conclusion
Maximum Feasible Participation

Stephen Schryer

Stanford University Press

The Conclusion sums up ongoing anxieties about lower-class cultural difference in the wake of Donald Trump’s electoral victory, exploring the notion that the rural white working class inhabits an alternative culture hostile toward expert knowledge. The Conclusion develops this notion through a reading of Carolyn Chute’s The School on Heart’s Content Road and Treat Us like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves. In these fictions, Chute imagines an educational co-op that creates working-class experts, bypassing the division between professionals and lower-class clients that marked the Community Action Program. Chute embodies this notion of working-class expertise in the novels’ form; she presents them as alternative histories, accessible to nonexpert reading practices. However, the novels replicate the War on Poverty–era notion of class culture, which cannot be eradicated without exterminating the tribal consciousness of working-class Maine.

Keywords:   Carolyn Chute, The School on Heart’s Content Road, Treat Us like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves, working-class literature, Maine, Donald Trump, rural poverty

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