WS101 Essay topics - Professional site of Susana L. Gallardo

WS101 Essay #2 Topics
SJSU Spring 2008
Instructor: Susana L. Gallardo
Due Monday, April 7
A Family Work History
Over spring break, prepare a “work tree” of your family’s occupational history. Include your
parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and any siblings not in school. Include as much information
as you can reasonably get about each family member; each tree should indicate who worked and
where (workplace and country/region), and the type/s of work (occupation? formal? informal?).
Then pick two or three family members and do a short interview with each –in person is best, but
phone is okay. Ask each interviewee about their complete work history. Some questions you
might ask:
What was their first job? How did they get it and why? Did they stay in that field? Why?
What about later jobs? What kinds of education/experience/credentials did they have?
Ask about working conditions, and what they loved/hated most about each job. Did they
choose their work, or did it choose them? Were they limited because of class or race?
Was it socially acceptable work, or unusual for that time/place? What circumstances
changed or affected their choice of work (economy, immigration, family
responsibilities?) What kinds of benefits did their work have, and how did that affect
your family’s well-being? Did the work influence their children’s occupational choices?
Was their work history ever interrupted, and why?
Then write a 3-4 page essay on your family’s work history, focusing on these two individuals.
Pay attention to the details of each individual’s life, but also consider the bigger picture of your
general family – how have they crossed class lines, cultural/regional lines, citizenship lines?
Consider your family’s work history in light of our readings and discussion on the transformation
of women’s (and men’s) work, the four types of work, and the feminization of poverty. Who
“worked” in your family, and who got paid?
This may sound easy, but it is not. The best essays will include a few direct quotes from your
family members, with enough details that the reader will feel they know your subject. It is up to
you to analyze the individual stories of your family members with any analytical material we’ve
discussed in class. Your paper should also include an appendix with your family work tree,
drawn up however you choose.
Papers should be typed, double-spaced, preferably in Times 12 pt font. You may cite course
readings informally (Amott & Matthaei, 232) (lecture, 3/10/08) since no bibliography is
necessary. Please put a coverpage on your essay, with your name, the date, and the number of
your essay option. Please number your pages, but do not put your name on any interior
Your essay is due Monday, April 7 at 10:30 a.m.
You may bring a page or two of your rough draft to class, and I will email you comments by the
end of the day, or better, you can come to my office hours (Mon 12-2, T 10:30-11:30) to talk in
person. I would encourage you to take advantage of spring break to talk with family
members….if you have any questions, please share them with the class by posting to the blog
( and I will try to respond as soon as possible.