Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Erika Brady, Ed Counts, Michael Ann Williams

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


As the medium cost of conventional housing rises, many people unable to incur such an expense look for alternative forms of adequate housing. In rural areas surrounding Bowling Green, Kentucky, several families have utilized the mobile home as a base to expand, embellish, and personalize, creating a larger more conventional-looking home. Many of these altered homes possess gabled roofs, rock exterior walls, and expansive interior space. Of primary concern is: why have these families undertaken a project of this nature?

As material culture scholars and folklorists examine our built environment, they find relationship between construction and the builders. What can the altered mobile home tell us about these individual builders? A contextual analysis examining the surrounding landscape, economic dilemmas, and personal aesthetics and values help elucidate each altered mobile home. Also, by examining the individual builder’s work technique, materials, and values associated with housing, one can understand how each mobile home is a direct reflection of its owner.

Since the mobile home’s creation, the public’s conception of the form has led to claims that it is not a housing form, but rather an accessory for the automobile. Steadfast values associated with housing have not adhered to the image of the mobile home. Because of this ambiguity, the mobile home is an ideal form for individuals to mold and alter, thereby creating a form imbued with personal aesthetics and personal values concerning housing. These ideas are examined through analysis of four families.


American Popular Culture | American Studies | Anthropology | Architecture | Folklore | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology