Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities


Robert Johnson


Rooted in critical scholarship this dissertation is an interdisciplinary study, which contends that having a history is a basic human right. Advocating a newly conceived and termed, Solidarity-inspired History framework/practice perspective, the dissertation argues for and then delivers a restorative voice to working-class historical actors during the 1916 Minnesota Iron Ore Strike. Utilizing an interdisciplinary methodological framework the dissertation combines research methods from the Humanities and the Social Sciences to form a working-class history that is a corrective to standardized studies of labor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Oftentimes class interests and power relationships determine the dominant perspectives or voices established in history and disregard people and organizations that run counter to, or in the face of, customary or traditional American themes of patriotism, the Protestant work ethic, adherence to capitalist dogma, or United States exceptionalism. This dissertation counteracts these traditional narratives with a unique, perhaps even revolutionary, examination of the 1916 Minnesota Iron Ore Strike. The intention of this dissertation's critical perspective is to poke, prod, and prompt academics, historians, and the general public to rethink, and then think again, about the place of those who have been dislocated from or altogether forgotten, misplaced, or underrepresented in the historical record.

Thus, the purpose of the dissertation is to give voice to historical actors in the dismembered past. Historical actors who have run counter to traditional American narratives often have their body of "evidence" disjointed or completely dislocated from the story of our nation. This type of disremembering creates an artificial recollection of our collective past, which de-articulates past struggles from contemporary groups seeking solidarity and social justice in the present. Class-conscious actors, immigrants, women, the GLBTQ community, and people of color have the right to be remembered on their own terms using primary sources and resources they produced. Therefore, similar to the Wobblies industrial union and its rank-and-file, this dissertation seeks to fan the flames of discontented historical memory by offering a working-class perspective of the 1916 Strike that seeks to interpret the actions, events, people, and places of the strike anew, thus restoring the voices of these marginalized historical actors.