Loretta Gaffney




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"Loretta Gaffney studies the politics of reading, education, and social movements in the contemporary U.S. She taught “Stories of Struggle: Work, Class, and Narrative in Contemporary America” in Spring 2019. This course investigates how working-class Americans from diverse backgrounds have narrated their struggles with poverty, education, work, parenthood, bodily suffering, and war and asks what readers can learn from these struggles as students, writers, and activists. While some historical narratives will be read, the course’s emphasis is 21st century narratives.

A practitioner and a scholar, Gaffney works as a school librarian and has taught graduate courses in the UCLA Department of Information Studies. Her research explains why young readers and books marketed to young adults (for instance, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games) became flashpoints in American cultural politics. “Growing up in a working-class family” Gaffney says, “I learned the importance of telling our own stories about our experiences with work and class.” Later, as a union activist, she drew from her experience and her reading to help her fellow teaching assistants tell their stories of struggle.

Whether you love to read, are curious about literature, or want to hone your storytelling skills, this class will help you become comfortable talk about working class narratives and encourage you to tell your own stories.

Gaffney holds a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science and a M.A. in Literature from the University of Illinois."

Courses Taught

LBR STDS 153 Stories of Struggle: Work, Class, and Narrative of Contemporary America