What Is A Reedie 2019

Trailer Homes and Class Anxiety

Meet history major Brenna Intemann-Milligan ’19.

September 9, 2019

Major: History

Hometown: Sacramento, California

Thesis adviser: Prof. Joshua Howe [history]

Thesis: A Hitch In The American Dream: Travel Trailers, Mobile Homes, and American Class Anxieties 1930–1970

What it’s about: What can mobile homes surrounded by a white picket fence, or Airstreams in driveways, tell us about the American middle class? My thesis looks at the invention, popularization, and changing uses of travel trailers and mobile homes. I argue that middle-class Americans problematized mobile homes because they represented downward mobility. The ways that mobile-home owners decorated, lived in, and talked about their homes reveal their aspirations to an elusive middle-class identity.

What it’s really about: How affluent Americans stigmatized mobile homes to protect their own status as members of a unified, moral, suburban white middle-class.

In high school: I was always on the run—a girl with a seven-year plan she definitely did not stick to.

Influential professor: Sophomore year, Prof. Pancho Savery [English] let me take his Contemporary African American Fiction—a great class with a rich syllabus. As important, it was full of hardworking, engaged upperclassmen who showed me what a Reed conference should feel like.

Influential book: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.

Concept that blew my mind: Toni Morrison’s concept of rememory—offered as a way to make and remake the past and present, the knowable and the unknowable—has come up countless times at Reed.

Cool stuff: I wouldn’t have made it through Reed without the rugby team, which I was honored  to captain for two years, personally disproving the myth that Reedies aren’t sporty. I was involved with the Peer Mentor Program, the Model UN team, and the mock trial team, served on the J Board/Title IX Board, and was a Renn Fayre Czar.

Challenges I faced: I was a house advisor for 3 years and always had a side job. Balancing school, sports, and a social life was often a challenge.

How Reed changed me: Reed encouraged me to ask a lot of questions and accept that the answers are always changing. I grew a lot, made lifelong friends, and learned to recognize what was important and then prioritize it.

Financial aid: A lot of generous alumni made it possible for me to have the amazing formative experience I did at this institution, for which I am forever grateful. As a big foodie, I was particularly delighted to be the recipient of the James Beard Memorial Scholarship.

What’s next: Law school, but for now I'm sticking around Portland to play Rugby on ORSU's Women's Premier League squad.