Re-envisioning Class In and Beyond the Bi-Co

December 2, 2005

Jody Cohen, Anne Dalke, Rona Pietrzak and...?

Today's discussion follows from a series of earlier conversations:
Interactions Between Race and Class on Campus (4/29/05)
College as Choice: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar Dreams (9/23/05)
Examining Our History: Inclusion/Exclusion at Bryn Mawr (11/18/05):

Joseph Taylor directed in his will
that his money be used to erect buildings
"for the comfort and advanced
education and care of young women,
or girls of the higher classes of society."


"The photo on our front cover and back covers [of the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (November 2005)] shows students at The Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry performing a skit, "Wealth and Poverty," in 1930. Opened in 1921, the School offered scholarships for programs in political economy, science and literature to factory workers until 1938. The first of its kind, it was the vision of President of the College M. Carey Thomas, who recognized the importance of women's roles in Progressive-era social reform."

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Where did you see yourself, in relation to these pictures?

Where do you hear yourself, in relation to this language?


What surprised you in your own and (or) in others' responses to the visuals?

What surprised you in your small group discussion?

How might this illuminate our understanding of how class issues play at Bryn Mawr?

How might this suggest ways we could work differently with our differences?

From Voices of Academics From the Working Class: "Working-class language...conflicts with the language students are expected to use in the school environment....The authoritarian environment of the working-class students discourages them from questioning. The open, relativistic environment of the professional/managerial-class students encourages them to the home, working-class students do not learn how to qualify and substantiate assertions....Professional/managerial-class students have learned that answers depend on the contexts of the questions...Working-class students learn to focus on content--the immediate meaning of a thing or situation. Professional/managerial/-class students learn to focus on structure, to relate a thing to other things, to notoice similarity and difference. One might say that working-class students learn only the values of their community; professional/managerial-class students learn to situate the values of their community within the values of other communities they have visited....Because the professoriate are generally from the professional/managerial-class, they...interpret the linguistic and cognitive codes of the working class as signs of stupidity....We see...their focus on immediate events and recent experience, their inability to contextualize, generalize, and hierarchize through language, and we marginalize them....We assume they can't think because they don't write and think like us."

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