Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

The Jungle: Personalizing the Historical Struggle of Workers

Contributed by Kristen Shedd, Fullerton College & The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Description

An early encounter with muckraking American novelist Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle exposed Kristen Shedd to issues surrounding human rights and animal rights in the early 20th century. For Shedd, the 1906 novel exposed the intersections of fiction, policy, history, and social justice. Sinclair’s story prompted her to seek answers to questions: How did this novel prompt policy change? How did it capture the struggles of historical actors and immigrants in the early 20th century? What other novels did Sinclair write? What institutional structures need reform in order to be more just?

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Title

The Jungle: Personalizing the Historical Struggle of Workers

Subject

Sinclair famously quipped that he “aimed for the public’s heart” but accidentally “hit it in the stomach.” His novel hit Shedd in both places. The Jungle personalized the hopes and struggles of those living in the era that she would eventually study as a modern U.S. historian. Sinclair’s story prompted her to seek answers to questions: How did this novel prompt policy change? How did it capture the struggles of historical actors and immigrants in the early 20th century? What other novels did Sinclair write? What institutional structures need reform in order to be more just?

Description

An early encounter with muckraking American novelist Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle exposed Kristen Shedd to issues surrounding human rights and animal rights in the early 20th century. For Shedd, the 1906 novel exposed the intersections of fiction, policy, history, and social justice. Sinclair’s story prompted her to seek answers to questions: How did this novel prompt policy change? How did it capture the struggles of historical actors and immigrants in the early 20th century? What other novels did Sinclair write? What institutional structures need reform in order to be more just?

Contributor

Kristen Shedd, Fullerton College & The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress

Identifier

shedd-jungle-personalizing-history

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