Catalogue


Building a better race [electronic resource] : gender, sexuality, and eugenics from the turn of the century to the baby boom /
Wendy Kline.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2001.
description
xv, 218 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520225023 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780520225022 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2001.
isbn
0520225023 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780520225022 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8838224
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 197-207) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Wendy Kline is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Building a Better Race powerfully demonstrates the centrality of eugenics during the first half of the twentieth century. Kline persuasively uncovers eugenics' unexpected centrality to modern assumptions about marriage, the family, and morality, even as late as the 1950s. The book is full of surprising connections and stories, and provides crucial new perspectives illuminating the history of eugenics, gender and normative twentieth-century sexuality."--Gail Bederman, author of Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the US, 1880-1917 "A strikingly fresh approach to eugenics.... Kline's work places eugenicists squarely at the center of modern reevaluations of females sexuality, sexual morality in general, changing gender roles, and modernizing family ideology. She insists that eugenic ideas had more power and were less marginal in public discourse than other historians have indicated."--Regina Morantz-Sanchez, author of Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn-of-the-Century Brooklyn
Flap Copy
" Building a Better Race powerfully demonstrates the centrality of eugenics during the first half of the twentieth century. Kline persuasively uncovers eugenics' unexpected centrality to modern assumptions about marriage, the family, and morality, even as late as the 1950s. The book is full of surprising connections and stories, and provides crucial new perspectives illuminating the history of eugenics, gender and normative twentieth-century sexuality."--Gail Bederman, author of Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the US, 1880-1917 "A strikingly fresh approach to eugenics.... Kline's work places eugenicists squarely at the center of modern reevaluations of females sexuality, sexual morality in general, changing gender roles, and modernizing family ideology. She insists that eugenic ideas had more power and were less marginal in public discourse than other historians have indicated."--Regina Morantz-Sanchez, author of Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn-of-the-Century Brooklyn
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-06-01:
With stem-cell research, cloning, and genetic engineering so much in the news recently, it behooves us to examine long-standing thinking on scientific intervention in biological processes. Using archival sources, Kline (Univ. of Cincinnati) recounts the shift from negative eugenics, or preventing procreation of the unfit, to positive eugenics, which encouraged procreation of the fit. She describes how the emerging modern woman in the early-20th-century US challenged the "naturalness" of domesticity and motherhood and raised concerns with "race suicide." Eugenicists initially focused on segregating "moron girls," but soon shifted to sterilization as a more feasible solution once they realized the pervasiveness of the problem. Increasingly, eugenicists fostered the idea that motherhood was an exclusive privilege that should be practiced selectively for the betterment of the human race. Women deemed unfit for parenthood were offered sterilization as a way to remain sexual yet avoid unwanted children who would only burden society. Equipped with a new justification for eugenics as a cure for social as well as biological ills, post-WW II eugenicists were able to promote, well into the early 1960s, the pro-natal ideal of "reproductive morality," which encouraged women to contribute to society by returning to the home and raising a family. All levels and collections. G. B. Osborne Augustana University College
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This cultural history of eugenics in America emphasizes the movement's central, continuing interaction with notions of gender and morality.
Main Description
Wendy Kline's lucid cultural history of eugenics in America emphasizes the movement's central, continuing interaction with popular notions of gender and morality. Kline shows how eugenics could seem a viable solution to problems of moral disorder and sexuality, especially female sexuality, during the first half of the twentieth century. Its appeal to social conscience and shared desires to strengthen the family and civilization sparked widespread public as well as scientific interest. Kline traces this growing public interest by looking at a variety of sources, including the astonishing "morality masque" that climaxed the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition; the nationwide correspondence of the influential Human Betterment Foundation in Pasadena, California; the medical and patient records of a "model" state institution that sterilized thousands of allegedly feebleminded women in California between 1900 and 1960; the surprising political and popular support for sterilization that survived initial interest in, and then disassociation from, Nazi eugenics policies; and a widely publicized court case in 1936 involving the sterilization of a wealthy young woman deemed unworthy by her mother of having children. Kline's engaging account reflects the shift from "negative eugenics" (preventing procreation of the "unfit") to "positive eugenics," which encouraged procreation of the "fit," and it reveals that the "golden age" of eugenics actually occurred long after most historians claim the movement had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" in the '50s had its roots, she finds, in the positive eugenics campaign of the '30s and '40s. Many issues that originated in the eugenics movement remain controversial today, such as the use of IQ testing, the medical ethics of sterilization, the moral and legal implications of cloning and genetic screening, and even the debate on family values of the 1990s. Building a Better Race not only places eugenics at the center of modern reevaluations of female sexuality and morality but also acknowledges eugenics as an essential aspect of major social and cultural movements in the twentieth century.
Main Description
An excellent historical study of eugenics and its influence on women, as opposed to eugenics and the ideology of racial difference. Kline shows how eugenics was used to control women's sexuality, by the systematic practice of sterilizing "devient" women. Also, she argues that eugenics lived on in ideological ways long after WWII, to shape the baby boom.
Long Description
Wendy Kline's lucid cultural history of eugenics in America emphasizes the movement's central, continuing interaction with popular notions of gender and morality. Kline shows how eugenics could seem a viable solution to problems of moral disorder and sexuality, especially female sexuality, during the first half of the twentieth century. Its appeal to social conscience and shared desires to strengthen the family and civilization sparked widespread public as well as scientific interest. Kline traces this growing public interest by looking at a variety of sources, including the astonishing "morality masque" that climaxed the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition; the nationwide correspondence of the influential Human Betterment Foundation in Pasadena, California; the medical and patient records of a "model" state institution that sterilized thousands of allegedly feebleminded women in California between 1900 and 1960; the surprising political and popular support for sterilization that survived initial interest in, and then disassociation from, Nazi eugenics policies; and a widely publicized court case in 1936 involving the sterilization of a wealthy young woman deemed unworthy by her mother of having children. Kline's engaging account reflects the shift from "negative eugenics" (preventing procreation of the "unfit") to "positive eugenics," which encouraged procreation of the "fit," and it reveals that the "golden age" of eugenics actually occurred long after most historians claim the movement had vanished. The middle-class "passion for parenthood" in the '50s had its roots, she finds, in the positive eugenics campaign of the '30s and '40s. Many issues that originated in the eugenics movement remain controversial today, such as the use of IQ testing, the medical ethics of sterilization, the moral and legal implications of cloning and genetic screening, and even the debate on family values of the 1990s.Building a Better Racenot only places eugenics at the center of modern reevaluations of female sexuality and morality but also acknowledges eugenics as an essential aspect of major social and cultural movements in the twentieth century.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Motherhood, Morality, and the "Moron": The Emergence of Eugenics in Americap. 7
From Segregation to Sterilization: Changing Approaches to the Problem of Female Sexualityp. 32
"Sterilization without Unsexing": Eugenics and the Politics of Reproductionp. 61
A New Deal for the Child: Ann Cooper Hewitt and Sterilization in the 1930sp. 95
"Marriage Is Not Complete without Children": Positive Eugenics, 1930-1960p. 124
Epilogue: Building a Better Familyp. 157
Notesp. 165
Selected Bibliographyp. 197
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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