Chapter 1 - Summary

Chapter 1: ‘The Century of the Child’: Expert Literature and the Modern Child
  • [* Of this chapter, only the summary, geven biy the author in the Introduction, is given - Ipce]
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[This chapter] roughly spans the years from the 1890s to the 1940s to explain the conceptual symbol of this dissertation: the modern child.

In this chapter I examine the development and dissemination of competing models of childhood by placing experts’ advice about the regulation of children’s sexuality in conversation with broader social and politicalchanges in early twentieth century America.

I use child development literature as an entry way into changing ideas about the child, and I focus on sexuality as a particularly modern problematic in discourses of development.

Ultimately, I argue that attention to children and sexuality was politicized and used as part of broader efforts to imagine aprogressive narrative of American national development.

I begin in the progressive era not because the groups examined in this dissertation replicate programmatic reforms from the earlier period, but because the intellectuals and reformers of that era introduced debates that continued to shape the language of politics to century’s end. That is, in the decades surrounding the turn ofthe twentieth century, activists and reformers advanced competing definitions of liberty and community in their efforts to address the problems of modern, industrialized society.

These debates framed subsequent generations of activists, reformers, politicians, and intellectuals. [..] Moreover, conceptual arguments about the redefinition of liberty and community were centrally concerned with education and welfare, systems that necessarily focused on children and families.

My examination of this earlierperiod establishes the contours of political debate and introduces the contested terms that ground the larger work — child, liberation, violence.