Dr. David A. Gray
Teaching Associate Professor
American Studies, Work & Society, Modern U.S. History
My research to date explores the history of work and society. I am especially interested in how ideas about work have been shaped by specialists affiliated with management, including industrial psychologists, propaganda designers, and motivational consultants. I chart this history in my book, Work Better, Live Better: Motivation, Labor, and Management Ideology (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020). The book traces the efforts of employers, managers, and their allies to sell American workers on the rewards of work since 1900, within broader political and economic contexts.
My current research project examines the intertwined histories of work, technology, and management in the United States and the United Kingdom since World War II. It centers on the efforts of management specialists, business leaders, and governments to transform work via the introduction of computers and new techniques of managerial control. I consider these developments in broader contexts, including the transatlantic rise of systems-based management techniques, conservative free-market (or neoliberal) economic policies, and state and management efforts to weaken labor unions. The project draws on lines of analysis developed in my first book to explain how managers on both sides of the Atlantic developed new regimens of control in the office workplace.
My courses, offered mainly at the OSU-Tulsa campus, focus on a variety of topics, most of which blend history, literature, film, and other media. In some of my courses, such as “Tulsa’s Public Cultures” and “The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre” students explore local histories and their legacies. Beyond OSU, I also served as State Scholar for the Oklahoma Humanities Council’s Smithsonian exhibition, “Museum on Main Street: The Way We Worked,” which toured small towns throughout Oklahoma in 2017.
Visit Dr. Gray’s Personal Website.
AMST 3950: The Past and Future of Work
AMST 3550: Tulsa’s Public Cultures
AMST 4973: American Studies Senior Seminar
AMST/ENGL 3813: Readings in the American Experience: Work in American Life
AMST/ENGL 3813: Readings in the American Experience: America in Transition
AMST 3823: U.S. as Business Culture
AMST 3823: U.S. as Business Culture: Food & Society
AMST 3950: The Tulsa Race Massacre
AMST 3253: Globalization and American Culture
AMST 3513: Film and American Society
AMST 3950: America’s Dystopian Futures