Lecture Description

This lecture begins by asking the audience members to examine their own shoes — where do they come from, where were they bought, how many shoes do they own (and why so many)? From this basis, I build a story of America by exploring kinds of shoes, methods of manufacture, the economy of production and sale, the expanding and shrinking shoe world; the industrialization of the process; the development of labor unions, the “Americanization” of ethnic shoes, and the erasure of “Indian-ness” that boarding schools pursued by forcing students out of moccasins, the class and race denominators of shoes, as well as their regional identities. I use shoes to illuminate key themes in American history, taking the audience members with me from “now” to “then” to “now.”

CATEGORIES

General and Historiography Labor and Working Class

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