ERG SES G 07, Gender and Education
This paper endeavours to show how the ideas of young people’s sexual development in the pioneering work of youth psychology, G. Stanley Hall’s Adolescence (1904) were soundly established in a European scientific and cultural discourse. Hall’s work is recognized as the “invention” of the modern concept of youth (Grinder 1969), but was impaired by his attempt to create a new science based on Darwinism and contemporary hereditary theories, like Ernst Haeckels recapitulation theory (Arnett 2006; Cravens 2006; Gliboff 2008).
Advice litterature published in Scandinavia in the last decades of the 1800s reflects both lay concepts of sexuality and scientific ideas that were disseminated through popular handbooks, public lectures and articles. Despite the growth of sexology and psychoanalysis prior to the turn of the century, of which Hall was familiar, traditional moral and medical doctrine on children and sexual development was apparent in the studies and research he used. This research was strongly rooted in a European historical discourse of sexual medicine, which was shared by writers on child rearing, public morals and hygiene, medicine and pedagogy.
So when Hall compiles his theory based what he perceives as the foremost research of his time, he draws on the same sources as a long line of authors. His construction of sexuality has both repressive, traditonal aspects (primarily in his view on masturbation and in the inherent sexual characteristics of girls) but at the same time liberal ones (as in his view on the metaphysical function of sexuality). By referring to Tissot’s L’Onanisme (1762) he inscribes himself in the tradition of sexual medicine that Foucault analyses in The Will to Knowledge (1978), as part of his attempt to unite all authoritative theories in his new framework of “genetic psychology” (Moran 2000; Foucault 1995).
Links between texts such as the ones analysed here does not necessarily mean that the one is influenced or caused by the other, the fallacy that Quentin Skinner calls “the mythology of parochialism”, but that such an interdiscursivity can show the pervasiveness and longevity of traditional 19th century doctrines of sexuality.
Arnett, J. J., Sokal, M. M., Arnett, J. J., & Cravens, H. (2006). G. STANLEY HALL’S ADOLESCENCE : Brilliance and Nonsense. History of Psychology, 9(3), 186-197. doi: 10.1037/1093-4510.9.3.186 Cravens, H., Sokal, M. M., Arnett, J. J., & Cravens, H. (2006). THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF G. STANLEY HALL’S ADOLESCENCE (1904). History of Psychology, 9(3), 172-185. doi: 10.1037/1093-4510.9.3.172 Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity Press. Foucault, M., & Schaanning, E. (1995). Seksualitetens historie 1: Vilje til viten. [Halden]: Exil. Gliboff, S. (2008). H.G. Bronn, Ernst Haeckel, and the origins of German Darwinism: a study in translation and transformation. Transformations (M.I.T. Press). (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Grinder, R. E. (1969). The concept of adolescence in the genetic psychology of G. Stanley Hall. Child development, 40(2), 355. Hall, G. S. (1904a). Adolescence, vol. 1 (Vol. 1). New York: Appleton & Co. Hall, G. S. (1904b). Adolescence vol. 2 (Vol. 2). New York: Appleton & Co. Moran, J. P. (2009). Teaching sex: The shaping of adolescence in the 20th century: Harvard University Press. Winther Jørgensen, M., & Phillips, L. (2002). Discourse analysis as theory and method. London: Sage.
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