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Title:Making homes on the road: Transient mobility, domesticity, and culture in the United States, 1870s-1930s
Author(s):Tye, Nathan Thomas
Director of Research:Oberdeck, Kathryn J
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Oberdeck, Kathryn J
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Gilbert, Daniel; Mumford, Kevin; Higbie, Tobias
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Progressive Era
United States
Abstract:“Making Home on the Road,” charts the illicit mobility of transient workers, popularly known as hobos, across the United States from the 1870s through 1930s. On top of, inside, and underneath freight and passenger trains, men, women, and others moved about the nation as a matter of work, escape, liberation, or fortune. These evasive figures subverted, resisted, and destabilized constructions of gender, sexuality, and mobility. They also undercut the dehumanizing rhetoric and the legal and social restrictions directed at them by law enforcement, sociologists, reformers, and the press. In doing so hobos offered their imaginings of space, politics, and community during a period when those possibilities were taken through social, legal, and violent means by those in power. This dissertation intertwines previous studies of transient labor grounded in the histories of labor, welfare, and immigration with recent studies of gender, sexuality, and mobility in the United States. Bringing these historiographical and methodological bodies together not only illuminates the impact of illicit mobility on transient culture and community, but transients’ impact on emergent Progressive Era constructions of heteronormativity and the home. This dissertation accomplishes this by following hobos in their travels in the Midwest and West. In boxcars, campsites, and urban skid row districts, transients established communities, created poetry and song, forged intimacies, resisted law enforcement, and organized themselves through unions and fraternal organization. “Making Home on the Road,” reconsiders the role of the mobile poor in the development of new possibilities for gender nonconformity and queer sexualities, the formation of the heteronormative home, and manifestation of mobility and mobile cultures in rural, urban, and transatlantic contexts during the Progressive Era.
Issue Date:2019-07-10
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Nathan Tye
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08

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