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Tim Cresswell considers the ways in which the tramp was imagined and described and how, by the Second World War, it was being reclassified and rendered invisible. Cresswell also examines tramps as comic figures and looks at the work of prominent American photographers which signalled a sympathetic portrayal of this often-despised group.

Perhaps most significantly, The Tramp in America calls into question the common assumption that mobility played a central role in the production of American identity. The quality of the writing, the excellent illustrations and the high production standards give this reasonably-priced hardback a chance of appealing to a general audience.

Cresswell successfully illuminates the history of a disadvantaged and marginal group, while providing a lens by which to focus on the thinking and practices of the mainstream culture with which they dealt. As such, this book represents a considerable achievement. Cresswell has made an important contribution to a homelessness literature still lacking a more sophisticated theoretical edge. Keeping everybody scared was just as useful then as it is today. Frightening women with tales of tramp rapists was useful in an age when women were beginning to think about escaping from domestic slavery.

But since "tramps" were legally defined as "men" the notion of female vagabondage being intolerable to American Victorians , female tramps were designated "prostitutes".

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Cresswell doesn't tell us how many tramps were children, but Jack London and other writers encountered them. People were told that the tramps were foreign anarchists, although in reality most were native-born WASPs, along with a sizable Irish minority. But if you believed they were all evil foreigners, then the ragged and dirty guy who came to your door for a handout wasn't a Real American after all, and there was no need to question a system which could turn someone just like yourself into a homeless beggar.

The official myth also claimed that tramps were shiftless and lazy, and if they were out of work it was because they liked it that way, and therefore honest hard-working folk need not worry about being forced to join their ranks.

In reality, some tramps were genuine outsiders who wanted no part of society apart from what they could beg or steal, but most were looking for work. The vagabonds themselves were careful to distinguish between the real "tramps", and the "hoboes" literally "hoe boys", or migrant farm workers , but those in authority had no interest in such subtleties and lumped them all together.

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What was to be done about the tramps? Scientists and social reformers agreed that there was no point trying to help them.


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Since the economic underpinnings of the problem were acknowledged by almost no one but the tramps themselves, intellectuals struggled to devise other explanations for the phenomenon. By and large, it was thought that tramps suffered from a mental disorder characterized by wanderlust, and that the disorder was the product of genetic inferiority. Attempts at rehabilitation were therefore not merely pointless but wrong-headed, since the best thing for the Race would be to have the subhuman tramp population quietly die out; after all, it was believed that trampism was responsible for a host of social problems, ranging from the spread of syphilis to the "masculinization of women".

In order to control the problem while nature took its course, it seemed wise to pen them in prisons or prison-like workhouses and work camps although some experts did propose systematic euthanasia. Segregation by sex in prisons helped discourage propagation, of course, but it was not unheard of for authorities to make sure of matters by castrating male tramps. An unexpected byproduct of all this official hostility was the emergence of the tramp as a counterculture hero.

Cresswell fares poorly here.

Tramp in America - Tim Cresswell - Google Книги

There's almost nothing about tramp influence on literature and folk music. He barely mentions how the tramp was increasingly viewed as an enviable escapee from the horrors of industrialization, assembly-line labour, and the modern city. A chapter on Chaplin is superficial, pretentious, and padded with irrelevancies. He does note that, very infrequently, the tramps had the chance to make a few tart comments about their betters. Asked by an ethnographer to list the various types of tramp, James Moore, "The Daredevil Hobo", made sure to include missionaries, tourists, and the idle rich.

Jan 28, Luke Zwanziger rated it liked it Shelves: A well written book, but looks more at the sociology and framework placed around the hobo and the tramp rather than historical accounts which is what I was hoping for. There are times chapters focus a little narrowly on the subject matter e. The Comedic representation chapter was mostly about Charlie Chaplin films. Overall informative, but more of a semantical and sociological study informed by history.

Two stars for my pertaining to interest in the matter, Three stars for overall informat A well written book, but looks more at the sociology and framework placed around the hobo and the tramp rather than historical accounts which is what I was hoping for. Two stars for my pertaining to interest in the matter, Three stars for overall informative and writing.

In the gutter

Feb 25, Heather rated it liked it. It's sort of a boring school book but interesting to learn about how people treat people on the outskirts of society.. Aug 08, Wylie rated it really liked it Shelves: This book provides a useful, cultural studies approach to its discussion of the historical construction of the figure of the tramp. May 10, Windy marked it as to-read.

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This book actually looks like it's worth reading. Finally, Nicole recommends a decent book! Really, green monkey dreams? Jonathan rated it really liked it Jul 05, Ed Davis rated it really liked it Sep 12, Tia rated it really liked it May 04, Mary rated it it was amazing May 21, Kristin rated it it was amazing Jan 21, John Lennon rated it liked it Apr 19, Wes Bishop rated it it was amazing Jul 21, Eric rated it really liked it Jan 31, John Vogt rated it really liked it Jul 19, Ricky Grove rated it it was amazing Jan 13, Gaylena rated it liked it Jun 06, Osiris Oliphant rated it really liked it Mar 25, Bo rated it really liked it Jul 24, Meagan added it Oct 29, Lynda Wylde marked it as to-read Oct 22, Stephen marked it as to-read Feb 11, Gregory Byrne added it Mar 03, Sean added it May 11, Ange marked it as to-read May 25, Nate marked it as to-read Jul 16, Gelu Oltean marked it as to-read Aug 14, Fernan marked it as to-read Nov 13,