Carnegie Mellon University
December 19, 2011

News Brief: CMU's Kathy M. Newman On How Christmas Inspires Labor Discussions

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412.268.6094 /

Kathy NewmanKathy M. Newman, associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University and labor issues expert, looks at the Christmas season a little differently than most. She sees it as a season filled with opportunities to discuss iconic characters such as Santa, Rudolph and Frosty in the context of work, capitalism and the working class.

In a blog post for Working-Class Perspectives, Newman highlights several Christmas classics and how they represent labor issues, including:

"Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer"
— Newman notes how some intellectuals believe the show, which first aired in 1964, is an allegory for the Cold War.  Her take, however, centers on worker discrimination since not all of the elves who want to work are allowed to work.

"A Christmas Carol" — Newman focuses on the 1988 adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale and compares the character of Scrooge to the "1%" who control wealth in the U.S., as identified by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" — The pinnacle character for the malcontent, Newman examines how the Grinch character is used in current political rhetoric.

Read Newman's entire post on "Working Christmas" at