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Forgotten Men and Fallen WomenThe Cultural Politics of New Deal Narratives$
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Holly Allen

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453571

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453571.001.0001

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“Uncle Sam’s Wayside Inns”

“Uncle Sam’s Wayside Inns”

Transient Narratives and the Sexual Politics of the Emergent Welfare State

(p.49) Chapter 2 “Uncle Sam’s Wayside Inns”
Forgotten Men and Fallen Women

Holly Allen

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the sexual politics of the emergent welfare state by focusing on narratives of transient sex. Throughout the Depression years, sensational accounts of transient “perversions” pervaded American culture, infusing popular culture and political rhetoric and delimiting the sexual, racial, class, and generational contours of citizenship in the emergent welfare state. Such narratives were anchored on the familiar figure of the hobo to contemplate the Great Depression's impact on institutions and concepts at the center of American civic life. This chapter discusses the Roosevelt administration's response to popular anxieties about transiency in the form of two federal relief programs to combat the problem: the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Federal Transient Program. It also explores how the federal transient camp became central to national political debate after 1933, with some critics referring to the transient camps as “Uncle Sam's Wayside Inns”.

Keywords:   sexual politics, welfare state, transient sex, perversion, Great Depression, transiency, federal relief, Civilian Conservation Corps, Federal Transient Program, transient camps

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