In Search of the RV

in Volume 8 (2017): Issue 1 (Jan 2017)

Despite the ubiquity of recreational vehicles traveling America’s highways, only a few scholars have chosen to study them closely. This certainly cannot be because recreational vehicles (RVs) are not significant enough in their scope or scale to warrant attention. In fact, they are very prevalent, as demonstrated by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s estimate that 8.9 million American households own one. It certainly cannot be that their impact is not felt in many communities across the country in the form of branded RV parks, mega dealerships, and tourist destinations purposefully outfitted with all the hookups a land yacht captain requires. It is, therefore, hard to understand how such a highly visible transportation and recreation technology has remained largely invisible for many scholars, even among those working on related topics. The RV’s place in American society has only been studied in a piecemeal fashion, with contributions frequently authored by those outside the discipline of history. This article will review RV-related scholarship and suggest how the lacunae in our understanding of the RV phenomenon would best be filled.

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