THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF G. STANLEY HALL'S ADOLESCENCE (1904)

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Abstract

G. Stanley Hall's magnum opus, Adolescence, published in 1904 in two hefty volumes I herein submit to historical analysis. I am concerned with how it did “fit” into the notions and practices of the larger culture as well as into the discourses of science and of child nurture of that time. There is plenty of evidence of Hall's ethnic, racial, and gender attitudes as expressed in the book being typical of the white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant middle class stratum to which he belonged. His discussions of the extant discourses of science and of child nurture show a man quite conversant with these discourses, and not merely in American and British, but also in French and German publications as well. Probably any book, idea, or historical circumstance or phenomenon is chiefly a historical artifact, and we should not bend it much to “prove” that it is in any important sense a part of a different age. It is one thing to say that a certain idea has a contemporary resonance; to claim there is a straight line from it to today is problematic and meaningless.

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