David LeGault
An Analysis of the Literature of Work in Michigan Writing

Very little research has been focused on finding a direct connection between work-related literature and Michigan writers. The project looked to accomplish this through several steps. First, a definition of work related literature was established through books written on the subject of American work literature. Secondly, a comprehensive literary analysis of notable contemporary Michigan authors was undertaken in the hopes of finding the correlation between certain themes and the geographic region from which the writers came. After closely reading Michigan fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, the next step involved direct questioning of writers in hopes of gaining further insight into their writing process. This was accomplished through interviews and a look at writer’s correspondences with Michigan author Jim Harrison. After this analysis was completed, the project identified several themes vital to Michigan writing. These included: using vocation as a means of defining characters; the use of industrial imagery or pollution as a means of showing the bleakness of society; and the camaraderie between workers as a means of survival. Although every book analyzed was not necessarily about work or even Michigan, these themes undoubtedly appeared in each novel or collection of shorter work. After this was established, the project looked to apply these key ideas to my own writing, resulting so far in a published interview, a forthcoming book review publication, as well as two creative nonfiction essays about industry and Michigan: an exploration of my personal connection to the Mackinac Bridge, and a look at the pet death industry.

Faculty Mentor: Ander Monson

Page last modified July 14, 2009