L208 25251 TOPICS IN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE AND CULTURE
Mark Harrison

4:00p-5:15p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.

TOPIC: "The Myth and Literature of the American Hobo"

Through much of the twentieth century, the hobo was the figure par excellence of American freedom. This course will examine the myth and lore of this, once celebrated, now all but disappeared, avatar of the boundless. Through an examination of previous enfigurations of the wanderer and close readings of various accounts, both first and second hand, of the vagabond life, we will address such questions as: Why is the hobo so readily romanticized as an emblem of freedom?; What was life as a hobo actually like?; and Why has the hobo as cultural icon all but disappeared from the American consciousness and what does this imply about contemporary U.S. culture?

Potential texts include:

You Can’t Win—Jack Black
Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha—Ben L. Reitman
Bound for Glory—Woody Guthrie
Kings in Disguise—James Vance, Dan Burr, and Alan Moore
On Hobos and Homelessness—Nels Anderson