Labor History Seminar: Kathryn Oberdeck, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Labor History Seminar
Friday, October 26, 2007

“Of Tubs and Toil: Locating Kohler Village in an Empire of Hygiene, 1920–2000”
Kathryn Oberdeck, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This paper probes the intersections of industrial and domestic toil that can be plotted on the global map of modern hygiene associated with modern American bathrooms and kitchens. Focusing on the products, publicity and marketing strategies of the Kohler Company and its welfare-capitalist village of Kohler, Wisconsin, it traces social categories associated with the “labor lightening” potentials of the company’s tubs, toilets, and electric generators as these were figured in publicity and fought over by various groups of producers, consumers and users between the 1920s and the 1990s.

Commentators: Joseph Bigott, Purdue University at Calumet, and Susan Hirsch, Loyola University Chicago