Carolyn Kraus

For Carolyn Kraus, a Professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and co-founder of the Journalism and Screen Studies Discipline, Men At Work is a project that grows out of personal experience as well as academic interest. While raising her children in Detroit’s inner city and freelancing for national publications that included The New York Times, Partisan Review, and The New Yorker, she wrote “Detroit Beat,” a column of feature-length essays that appeared in city magazines throughout the 1980s. Along with her academic research on journalism ethics and nonfiction genres, she has also published many essays on Detroit life and steadily featured Detroit contexts, in both her literary and scholarly work.

Within the past year, Kraus has published nine academic and literary essays, including “Metamorphosis in Detroit” and “Running in Place,” both nominated for the Pushcart Literary Prize, and “Recycling Detroit,” which appeared last year in the scholarly Journal of Ecocriticism. In recent years Kraus has published a number of other studies that inform the VOICES Oral History Project at UMD. These include “Gargoyles” (2003), which focused on a group of educated Detroit Marxist artist/tradesmen who had dropped out of graduate school and turned to barter-based carpentry, roofing or miscellaneous odd jobs; “Eight Mile, Detroit: Life on the Line” (2004), which explored the many physical, geographical and figurative barriers that contribute to the city’s isolation from its suburbs; and “Big” (2005), which investigated anomalies of the urban landscape.

Professor Kraus has also published extensively on narrative genres from literary journalism to feature film, most recently, “The Journalist and the Exorcist” (2009), an in-depth exploration of the ethical perils inherent in reporting on the margins, and “Screening the Borderland” (2009), which proposes a cinematic sub-genre.

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    Men at Work: Voices from Detroit’s Underground Economy

    Detroit, which recently came in first on Forbes magazine’s “Miserable Cities Index,” is viewed as the national reference point for all that has gone wrong in urban America. But abandonment and decay are not the only stories in the poorest, most dramatically shrinking major American city. Detroit is also a tale of ingenuity and reinvention born of necessity. This is the story of how, in an economic climate apparently designed to ensure their failure, some resilient men find work on their own terms, get food and shelter, and raise their children -often making up the means to do so as they go along.

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