Amy G. Richter's Home on the Rails: Women, the Railroad, and the Rise of PDF

By Amy G. Richter

Spotting the railroad's significance as either image and event in Victorian the USA, Amy G. Richter follows ladies tourists onto trains and considers the implications in their presence there. For a time, Richter argues, nineteenth-century americans imagined the general public realm as a chaotic and hazardous yet in all likelihood wealthy area the place quite a few teams got here jointly, collided, and prompted each other, for higher or worse. the instance of the yankee railroad unearths how, via the start of the 20 th century, this photograph used to be changed by means of certainly one of a domesticated public realm-a public house within which either men and women more and more strove to make themselves "at home." via efforts that ranged from the homey touches of railroad automobile d??cor to advertisements photos celebrating lady tourists and criminal circumstances sanctioning gender-segregated areas, tourists and railroad businesses reworked the railroad from a spot of chance and virtually limitless social blending into one during which white women and men alleviated the tension of disagreeable social touch. Making themselves "at domestic" aboard the trains, white women and men domesticated the railroad for themselves and lead the way for a racially segregated and class-stratified public house that freed ladies from the house but nonetheless preserved the railroad as a masculine area.

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Extra resources for Home on the Rails: Women, the Railroad, and the Rise of Public Domesticity (Gender and American Culture)

Sample text

39 The engineering achievements of the railroad inspired a sense of pride in American technology and its triumph over the landscape. Guidebooks depicted with equal enthusiasm the wonder of the landscape and the feats of technology that made them accessible. The image of tracks reaching to the horizon or climbing to staggering heights made concrete the Victorian faith in limitless national progress. Despite accelerating the pace of daily life and introducing new dangers, the railroad offered release from modern anxieties.

As the organization and reach of the new corporate railroad systems grew, so did the efficiency and quality of service aboard the rails. The amenities of travel proliferated during the s and s as companies added specialty and extra-fare cars to their trains. By the s, the passenger departments of railroad lines enthusiastically promoted their cars’ comforts and raised passenger expectations. Rail company brochures extolled the amenities available aboard their lines. Perhaps the most visible service was that provided by black porters: this reframed the social diversity of rail travel by staging a set performance of racial inequality in the cars.

48 As they contemplated the world of strangers in the cars, passengers struggled to create social order and define new rules of common conduct. Story after story portrayed the railroad as an unruly world where strangers mixed freely and innocent confusion or well-crafted duplicity thrived. ’’ 50 Could one know for sure that the sickly old man in need of a seat was a war hero and not some ‘‘wretched specimen’’ with a second-class ticket? 52 In some accounts, showing kindness to the right stranger led to a felicitous and financially enriching marriage; in others, trusting the wrong person led to lost dignity, property, or worse.

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