Document Type



Master of Arts


American Studies

First Adviser

Moglen, Seth

Other advisers/committee members

Foltz, Mary


Tillie Olsen's Yonnondio and Raymond Williams' "Culture is Ordinary" explore the untapped potential of working-class people and the beauties of even the most difficult lives. Though they were written two decades apart, "Culture is Ordinary" builds upon Yonnondio's glimpses into a healthy and productive democratic educational process that could emerge from the positive aspects of working-class experiences. Both works investigate the difficult conditions which the children of laborers face in schools that ignore their needs and present them with irrelevant and useless material that reflects only a static and elitist form of culture. Williams defines culture in a dynamic and more inclusive way, insisting that every individual shapes the culture of his or her society and that culture is not merely a reservoir of elite traditions. Rather, culture is both historical and made every day in every mind and the cultures of elites and working people exist alongside one another.