A Carpenter's Daughter: A Working-Class Woman in Higher Education
Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2009
This is a personal story, written as a memoir--not the whole story of my life, but the story of the relevant parts that illuminate a larger picture, one that is not only personal, but structural. I tell the stories I recount here as an illustration of social forces which I try to identify and frame. I tell this personal story in the hope that readers will be able to connect with its specificity. But it is not simply the story of my "unhappy" life. Unhappiness, in fact, has nothing to do with this story, which doesn't deal with personal happiness or unhappiness as all, but rather recounts injuries inflicted by the class system upon a particular individual. I do refuse, in my life and in my narrative, to accept the experience of individual upward mobility as a "happy" story or a "success story." I do not want, in the world or in my narrative, to "make peace with the past," as some have suggested I should do. Instead, I want to add my voice to those calling for justice.
"A Carpenter's Daughter is both a memoir of the author's experiences growing up, going to school, and becoming an academic and a thoughtful commentary on the meaning of class in American culture. By connecting her own story with ideas from scholarly works on class and identity, Christopher shows how her individual experiences reflect common struggles that people of working-class background face when their education, profession, income, and lifestyles change." Sherry Linkon, author of Teaching Working Class