By Wendy Kline

Wendy Kline's lucid cultural historical past of eugenics in the US emphasizes the movement's vital, carrying on with interplay with renowned notions of gender and morality. Kline exhibits how eugenics may seem a plausible strategy to difficulties of ethical affliction and sexuality, specially woman sexuality, in the course of the 1st half the 20 th century. Its entice social moral sense and shared wants to advance the kin and civilization sparked common public in addition to clinical curiosity. Kline strains this turning out to be public curiosity by way of taking a look at various resources, together with the excellent "morality masque" that climaxed the 1915 Panama Pacific overseas Exposition; the national correspondence of the influential Human Betterment origin in Pasadena, California; the scientific and sufferer files of a "model" kingdom establishment that sterilized hundreds of thousands of allegedly feebleminded ladies in California among 1900 and 1960; the outstanding political and well known help for sterilization that survived preliminary curiosity in, after which disassociation from, Nazi eugenics guidelines; and a commonly publicized courtroom case in 1936 regarding the sterilization of a prosperous younger girl deemed unworthy by means of her mom of getting childrens. Kline's attractive account displays the shift from "negative eugenics" (preventing procreation of the "unfit") to "positive eugenics," which inspired procreation of the "fit," and it finds that the "golden age" of eugenics really happened lengthy after such a lot historians declare the flow had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" within the '50s had its roots, she unearths, within the optimistic eugenics crusade of the '30s and '40s. Many matters that originated within the eugenics flow stay arguable this present day, comparable to using IQ checking out, the scientific ethics of sterilization, the ethical and felony implications of cloning and genetic screening, or even the controversy on relations values of the Nineties. development a greater Race not just locations eugenics on the heart of contemporary reevaluations of girl sexuality and morality but in addition recognizes eugenics as a necessary element of significant social and cultural routine within the 20th century.

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Additional info for Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom

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Rather than trying to disguise or ignore their disabilities, physicians and superintendents needed to underscore them. ”67 In his study of deafness in American culture, Douglas Baynton suggests a similar eVort in the Progressive era to single out sign language as deviant. 68 Goddard needed a word that would carry scientiWc legitimacy and arouse public concern, for, as Goddard stressed, physicians needed public assistance in hunting out the high-grade feebleminded. Yet no word in the English language adequately expressed the distinctiveness and urgency of their condition.

Hall, like his protégé, sought academic solutions to what he regarded as racial degeneracy and the decline of civilization. 70 Hall, like most scientists of the late nineteenth century, believed in the heritability of acquired characteristics (which was overshadowed by Mendelian genetic theory by the early 1900s). As each generation advanced, Hall believed, it would pass its acquired developments on to the next generation, and thus civilization would continually evolve. Central to this idea was recapitulation theory, which explained how children inherited their parents’ acquired traits.

In this construction of diVerence, then, morality is the exclusive priv- Kline_001_208_text 8/3/01 2:44 PM Page 27 MOTHERHOOD, MORALITY, AND THE “MORON” 27 ilege of a fully developed mind. As did Hall, Goddard used an evolutionary scale, directly linking the feebleminded with “primitive” ancestors. “Those instincts that lead the child to become what we loosely call a moral imbecile ripen about the age of nine years,” Goddard explained. ”80 Goddard thus presented the problem of race suicide in simple terms that would appeal to his Progressive-era audience.

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