restricted access The Making of Hobo Masculinities

The following article summarizes several discursive productions of the US hobo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in order to expose the role the hobo played historically in the making of idyllic American manhood. After the crash of the railroad boom in 1873, the hobo was produced as other to dominant ideals of masculinity that were based in a stable work ethic. Deemed a “tramp” who refused to work, the hobo became a site for medical investigations that highlighted his lack of reason, feminizing the male hobo-tramp and buttressing ideals of both bourgeois and working-class masculinities in the process. Self-identified hobos worked to counter such discourses, but in doing so, also employed exclusionary tactics to distance women, tramps, and men of colour from definitions of hobo masculinity, revealing that white masculinity represented a possession in need of protection, regardless of class.