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Knowledge of childhood: materiality, text, and the history of science – an interdisciplinary round table discussion



This round table discussion takes the diversity of discourse and practice shaping modern knowledge about childhood as an opportunity to engage with recent historiographical approaches in the history of science. It draws attention to symmetries and references among scientific, material, literary and artistic cultures and their respective forms of knowledge. The five participating scholars come from various fields in the humanities and social sciences and allude to historiographical and methodological questions through a range of examples. Topics include the emergence of children's rooms in US consumer magazines, research on the unborn in nineteenth-century sciences of development, the framing of autism in nascent child psychiatry, German literary discourses about the child's initiation into writing, and the sociopolitics of racial identity in the photographic depiction of African American infant corpses in the early twentieth century. Throughout the course of the paper, childhood emerges as a topic particularly amenable to interdisciplinary perspectives that take the history of science as part of a broader history of knowledge.



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1 There is a considerable body of scholarship on various aspects of this transformation, although few works explicitly engage with histories of knowledge about childhood. On the child study movements in the USA and Europe see von Oertzen, Christine, ‘Science in the cradle: Milicent Shinn and her home-based network of baby observers, 1890–1910’, Centaurus (2013) 55, pp. 175195 ; Shuttleworth, Sally, The Mind of the Child: Child Development in Literature, Science, and Medicine, 1840–1900, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010 ; Smuts, A.B., Science in the Service of Children, 1893–1935, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006 ; Daepe, Marc, Zum Wohl des Kindes? Pädologie, pädagogische Psychologie und experimentelle Pädagogik in Europa und den USA, 1890–1940, Weinheim: Leuven University Press, 1993 . On drawings and toy usage see Wittmann, Barbara, ‘Bedeutungsvolle Kritzeleien: Die Kinderzeichnung als Instrument der Humanwissenschaften, 1880–1950’, unpublished Habilitation, Bauhaus University, 2012 ; Douglas, Mao, Fateful Beauty: Aesthetic Environments, Juvenile Development, and Literature, 1860–1960, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008 ; Brown, Marilyn R. (ed.), Picturing Children: Constructions of Childhood between Rousseau and Freud, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002 . On ergonomics, physiology and (reform) pedagogics see Whittaker, Gwendolyn, Überbürdung – Subversion – Ermächtigung: Die Schule und die literarische Moderne 1880–1918, Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2013 ; Hopf, Caroline, Die experimentelle Pädagogik: Empirische Erziehungswissenschaft in Deutschland am Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts, Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhart, 2004 ; Oelkers, Jürgen, ‘Physiologie, Pädagogik und Schulreform im 19. Jahrhundert’, in Sarasin, Philipp and Tanner, Jakob (eds.), Physiologie und industrielle Gesellschaft: Studien zur Verwissenschaftlichung des Körpers im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998, pp. 245285 ; Meumann, Ernst, Vorlesungen zur Einführungen in die experimentelle Pädagogik und ihre psychologischen Grundlagen, Leipzig: Engelmann, 1907 . For a sociologically informed perspective see Gutman, Marta and de Coninck-Smith, Ning (eds.), Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space and the Material Culture of Childhood, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008 .

2 Foerster, Friedrich Wilhelm, Staatsbürgerliche Erziehung: Prinzipienfragen politischer Ethik und politischer Pädagogik, Leipzig: Teubner, 1914 . See e.g. Giuriato, Davide, ‘Tintenbuben: Kindheit und Literatur um 1900 (Rilke, R. Walser, Benjamin)’, Poetica (2010) 42, pp. 325351 ; Bernstein, Robin, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, New York: New York University Press, 2011 ; Wittmann, op. cit. (1).

3 Cf. Renn, Jürgen, ‘From the history of science to the history of knowledge – and back’, Centaurus (2015) 57, pp. 3753 . In literature studies, poetologies of knowledge similarly understand literature as a form of knowledge conditioned by and contributing to larger cultural discourses, including the human and the natural sciences. Cf. Vogl, Joseph, ‘Poetologie des Wissens’, in Maye, Harun and Scholz, Leander (eds.), Einführung in die Kulturwissenschaft, Munich: Fink, 2011, pp. 4971 .

4 For modified published versions of the conference papers see Cook, Daniel Thomas, ‘Moral order and moral ordering in public advice about American children's rooms, 1876–1909’, Strenæ (online journal) (2014) 7, published 1 June 2014 ; Arni, Caroline, ‘Traversing birth: continuity and contingency in research on development in nineteenth-century life and human sciences’, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (2015) 37(1), pp. 5067 ; Giuriato, Davide, ‘Kinder retten: Biopolitik in Stifters Erzählung “Der Waldgänger”’, Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der Literatur (2015) 40(2), pp. 441458 ; Göhlsdorf, Novina, ‘Wie man aufschreibt, was sich nicht zeigt: Autismus als Widerstand und Anreiz früher kinderpsychiatrischer Aufzeichnungen’, in Bock, Cornelius and Schäfer, Armin (eds.), Das psychiatrische Aufzeichnungssystem: Notieren, Ordnen, Schreiben in der Psychiatrie, Paderborn: Fink, 2015, pp. 225244 .

5 The need to find some coherence in the historical study of material culture also motivated a 2009 forum in the American Historical Review: ‘Historians and the study of material culture’. In the discussion, the editors focused on questions about the relationship between things and words, between things and humans, and between things and broader culture. The present discussion partly goes beyond these questions in considering the materiality of texts themselves and focusing on the relationship between materiality and knowledge, rather than things and texts. See Auslander, Leora, Bentley, Amy, Leor, Halevi, Otto Sibum, H. and Witmore, Christopher, ‘AHR Conversation’, American Historical Review (2009) 114, pp. 13551404 .

6 To mention one example, the Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth contains a separate section, called ‘Object lessons’, dedicated to the study of ‘material culture’. According to the editors, the section was meant to ‘foster discussion of the objects and experiences in children's lives’. See Lovett, Laura L., ‘Introduction’, Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth (2010) 3, pp. 13, 1. See also Calvert, Karin, Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood 1600–1900, Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 1992 ; Gutman and Coninck-Smith, op. cit. (1).

7 Downing, Andrew Jackson, The Architecture of Country Houses, New York: Dover Publications, 1850 ; first published 1969, opposite pp. 146, 164.

8 For an early twentieth-century example see Walter Crabtree, ‘A house built for $4500’, House & Garden, September 1907, pp. 110–111.

9 Zelizer, Viviana A., Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children, New York: Basic Books, 1985, p. 12 ; also see the special issue of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth on Pricing the Priceless Child: A Retrospective (2012) 5(3).

10 English, Daylanne K., Unnatural Selections: Eugenics in American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004, pp. 4849 ; English, ‘W.E.B. Du Bois's family crisis’, American Literature (2000), 72, pp. 291319 .

11 Reagan, Leslie J., When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867–1973, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997 ; Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896–1920, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996 .

12 Smith, Suzanne E., To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010, pp. 6768 .

13 Funeral photographs are also part of a long and rich history of African American funeral practices, dating back to slave night-time ceremonies and burial aid societies. See Holloway, Karla F.C., Passed On: African American Mourning Stories: A Memorial, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002 ; Brown, Vincent, The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008 .

14 Van Der Zee, James, Dodson, Owen and Billops, Camille, The Harlem Book of the Dead, New York: Morgan & Morgan, 1978, pp. 8285 .

15 A comparable working-class white family in Manhattan paid $316 a year ($26 per month) for rent and earned more. See Greenberg, Cheryl Lynn, ‘Or Does It Explode?’ Black Harlem in the Great Depression, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 28 ; Van Der Zee, Dodson and Billops, op. cit. (14), p. 4.

16 See the analysis of photographs of African American children during the Civil War and through Reconstruction in Mitchell, Mary Niall, Raising Freedom's Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future after Slavery, New York: New York University Press, 2008 ; also see Bernstein, op. cit. (2).

17 Mitchell, Michele, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004, pp. 177179 .

18 Cf. on milieu theories and the idea of ‘heredo-intoxication’ in Mendelsohn, France J. Andrew, ‘Medicine and the making of bodily inequality in twentieth-century Europe’, in Gaudillière, Jean-Paul and Löwy, Ilana (eds.), Heredity and Infection: The History of Disease Transmission, London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 2179 .

19 Cf. Arni, Caroline, ‘Vom Unglück des mütterlichen “Versehens” zur Biopolitik des “Pränatalen”: Aspekte einer Wissensgeschichte der maternal-fötalen Beziehung’, in Sänger, Eva and Rödel, Malaika (eds.), Biopolitik und Geschlecht: Zur Regulierung des Lebendigen, Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2012, pp. 4466 .

20 On the teratological research in France that Féré’s work continued and extended see Oppenheimer, Jane M., ‘Some historical relationships between teratology and experimental embryology’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1968) 42(2), pp. 145159 .

21 Cf. Arni, Caroline, ‘The prenatal: contingencies of procreation and transmission in the nineteenth and early twentieth century’, in Brandt, Christina and Müller-Wille, Staffan (eds.), Heredity Explored: Between Public Domain and Experimental Science, 1850–1930, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016, pp. 285309 .

22 On Ballantyne see Al-Gailani, Salim, ‘Pregnancy, pathology and public morals: making antenatal care in Edinburgh around 1900’, in Greenlees, Janet and Bryder, Linda (eds.), Western Maternity and Medicine, 1880–1990, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013, pp. 3146 . Prenatal pathology comes to full bloom nowadays in the research field called ‘developmental origins of health and disease’. Cf. Gluckmann, Peter D., Hanson, Mark A. and Buklijas, Tatjana, ‘Maternal and transgenerational influences on human health’, in Gissis, Snait and Jablonka, Eva (eds.), Transformations of Lamarckism: From Subtle Fluids to Molecular Biology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011, pp. 237249 .

23 Hopwood, Nick, ‘Producing development: the anatomy of human embryos and the norms of Wilhelm His’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2000) 74, pp. 2979 ; and Wellmann, Janina, The Form of Becoming: Embryology and the Epistemology of Rhythm, 1760–1830, Cambridge: Zone Books, 2017 . For the intersections between embryology and evolutionary thought see the concise overview by Canguilhem, Georges, Lapassade, Georges, Piquemal, Jacques and Ulmann, Jacques, Du développement à l’évolution au XIXe siècle, Paris: PUF, 2003 ; first published 1962; and, in great detail, Hopwood, Nick, Haeckel's Embryos: Images, Evolution and Fraud, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015 .

24 Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, London: Routledge, 1974, p. 219 ; Koselleck, Reinhart, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002 ; and Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, New York: Columbia University Press, 2004 . For how this concept of time played out in concepts of ontogeny and phylogeny respectively see Owsei, Temkin, ‘German concepts of ontogeny and history around 1800’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1950) 24, pp. 227246 ; Bowler, Peter J., Life's a Splendid Drama: Evolutionary Biology and the Reconstruction of Life's Ancestry 1860–1940, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996 . For a critical discussion of the temporalization of the living see von Wülfingen, Bettina Bock, Brandt, Christina, Lettow, Susanne and Vienne, Florence (eds.), Temporalities of Reproduction, special issue, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (2015) 1 .

25 This was an evident endeavour, given that the organism was understood as a structure–function complex. Cheung, Tobias, ‘What is an “organism”? On the occurrence of a new term and its conceptual transformations 1680–1850’, History of Philosophy of the Life Sciences (2010), 32, pp. 155194 . However, foetal physiology has so far not received much historiographical attention, which might be due to the fact that it did not gain a subdisciplinary identity akin to embryology – despite attempts by authors such as Johannes Müller or William Thierry Preyer. Some literature, especially for the early twentieth century, is examined in Dubow, Sara, Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 .

26 Müller, Johannes, ‘Zur Physiologie des Foetus’, Zeitschrift für die Anthropologie (1824), 2nd quarterly, pp. 423483 .

27 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger's notion of ‘epistemic thing’ draws attention to how research, like that described, is kept in motion by the constant difference between a technical object (e.g. an embryo at day 28) and an object of scientific curiosity (the developing organism). Rheinberger, Hans-Jörg, Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997 .

28 Duden, Barbara, ‘The fetus on the “farther shore”: toward a history of the unborn’, in Morgan, Lynn M. and Michaels, Meredith W. (eds.), Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999, pp. 1325 .

29 Cf. Arni, op. cit. (4). On the concept of development and the emergence of child psychology see Ottavi, Dominique, De Darwin à Piaget: Pour une histoire de la psychologie de l'enfant, Paris: CNRS Edition, 2001 ; Turmel, André, A Historical Sociology of Childhood: Developmental Thinking, Categorization and Graphic Visualization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008 . Cf. on development and literature Gess, Nicola, Primitives Denken: Wilde, Kinder und Wahnsinnige in der literarischen Moderne (Müller, Musil, Benn, Benjamin), Munich: Fink, 2013 .

30 Besides Preyer, and among others, see Kussmaul, Adolf, Untersuchungen über das Seelenleben des neugeborenen Menschen, Leipzig: C.F. Winter'sche Verlagshandlung, 1859 .

31 Steedman, Carolyn, Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780–1930, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995 .

32 Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

33 On the history of the child-study movement and its relation to the conceptualization of autism see Nadesan, Majia Holmer, Constructing Autism: Unravelling the ‘Truth’ and Understanding the Social, London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 5379 . On child guidance clinics in the USA see Smuts, op. cit. (1). On the history of child psychiatry in Germany and Austria see Engbarth, Anette, Die Geschichte der Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und ihre Bedeutung für die heutige Praxis, Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2003 .

34 Asperger, Hans, ‘Das psychisch abnorme Kind’, Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift (1938) 51(49), pp. 13141317, 1316, my translation. Asperger published a long study on the topic in 1944: Asperger, ‘Die “Autistischen Psychopathen” im Kindesalter’, Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten (1944) 117, pp. 76136 .

35 Kanner, Leo, ‘Autistic disturbances of affective contact’, Nervous Child (1943) 2, pp. 217–50, 249. Asperger and Kanner appropriated and reframed the term ‘autism’ that Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler had used for a symptom of schizophrenia: the extreme withdrawal of patients, involving the predominance of their inner world. See Bleuler, Eugen, ‘Dementia Praecox oder Gruppe der Schizophrenien’, in Aschaffenburg, Gustav (ed.), Handbuch der Psychiatrie, Vienna: Deuticke, 1911, pp. 5256 .

36 On the mind see e.g. Preyer, William T., Die Seele des Kindes: Beobachtungen über die geistige Entwicklung des Menschen in den ersten Lebensjahren, Leipzig: Grieben, 1895 .

37 On the importance of infantile autism and childhood schizophrenia for child psychiatry see Jones, Kathleen W., Taming the Troublesome Child: American Families, Child Guidance, and the Limits of Psychiatric Authority, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002, p. 217 .

38 For an overview see Lenoir, Timothy (ed.), Inscribing Science: Scientific Texts and the Materiality of Communication, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998 . On the notion of paperwork see Latour, Bruno, ‘Drawing things together’, in Lynch, Michael (ed.), Representation in Scientific Practice, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990, pp. 1968, 52. On notation systems see Kittler, Friedrich, Discourse Networks 1800/1900, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990 . Also Latour, Bruno and Woolgar, Steve, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986 ; Rheinberger, Hans-Jörg, Experiment, Differenz, Schrift: Zur Geschichte epistemischer Dinge, Marburg an der Lahn: Basilisken-Presse, 1992 .

39 Ursula Klein introduced the term ‘paper tools’ to describe the function of chemical formulas in European organic chemistry: Klein, Ursula, ‘Paper tools in experimental cultures: the case of Berzelian formulas’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (2001) 32, pp. 265312 . For an introduction on recent approaches to the epistemic role of inscription practices see Hoffmann, Christoph, ‘Festhalten, Bereitstellen: Verfahren der Aufzeichnung’, in Hoffmann, Christoph (ed.), Daten sichern: Schreiben und Zeichnen als Verfahren der Aufzeichnung, Berlin: Diaphanes, 2008, pp. 720 . Other examples include Wittmann, Barbara (ed.), Spuren erzeugen: Zeichnen und Schreiben als Verfahren der Selbstaufzeichnung, Berlin: Diaphanes, 2009 ; Krauthausen, Karin and Nasim, Omar W. (eds.), Notieren, Skizzieren: Schreiben und Zeichnen als Verfahren des Entwurfs, Berlin: Diaphanes, 2010 .

40 Kanner, op. cit. (35), p. 242, emphasis in the original.

41 Kanner, Leo, ‘The development and present status of psychiatry in pediatrics’, Journal of Pediatrics (1937) 11(3), pp. 418435, 429.

42 My analysis of the patient files is based on samples from Kanner's patient records at the Mason Chesney Medical Archives (Johns Hopkins Institutions). Kanner's patients’ medical records from the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children are located at the Health Information Management Division of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. I was able to find copies of the files of four of the eleven patients who are portrayed in Kanner's first publication on autistic disturbances. For a more detailed study of the patient files and on the significance of notation systems for early conceptions of autism and the formation of child psychiatry see Göhlsdorf, op. cit. (4).

43 Meyer to Leo Kanner, undated, Adolf Meyer Papers, Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Unit I/2001/2.

44 Aufschreibesysteme has been translated as notation systems, discourse networks and ‘writing-down-systems’. See Schreber, Daniel Paul, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, London: Wm. Dawson & Sons Ltd, 1955 ; Kittler, op. cit. (38), p. xii.

45 Agamben, Giorgio, Kindheit und Geschichte: Zerstörung der Erfahrung und Ursprung der Geschichte, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003 .

46 Cf. the anthropological argument in Agamben's later work The Open: Man and Animal, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004, p. 38 : ‘Like every space of exception, this zone is, in truth, perfectly empty, and the truly human being who should occur there is only the place of a ceaselessly updated decision in which the caesurae and their rearticulation are always dislocated and displaced anew.’

47 Wittmann, Barbara, ‘Zeichnen, im Dunkeln: Psychophysiologie einer Kulturtechnik um 1900’, in Busch, Werner, Jehle, Oliver and Meister, Carolin (eds.), Randgänge der Zeichnung, Munich: Fink, 2007, pp. 165186 .

48 Giuriato, Davide, Mikrographien: Zu einer Poetologie des Schreibens in Walter Benjamins Kindheitserinnerungen, Munich: Fink, 2006 .

49 Campe, Rüdiger, ‘Die Schreibszene, Schreiben’, in Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich and Ludwig Pfeiffer, K. (eds.), Paradoxien, Dissonanzen, Zusammenbrüche: Situationen offener Epistemologie, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991, pp. 759772 .

50 Shuttleworth, op. cit. (1)

51 For example in Key, Ellen, The Century of the Child, New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1909 ; first published 1900.

52 On Rilke see Kittler, op. cit. (38), pp. 317–335.

53 Soemmerring addresses the problem with an aesthetic argument: Enke, Ulrike, ‘Von der Schönheit der Embryonen: Samuel Thomas Soemmerings Werk Icones embryonum humanorum (1799)’, in Duden, Barbara, Schlumbohm, Jürgen and Veit, Patrice (eds.), Geschichte des Ungeborenen, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002, pp. 205235 .

54 Duden, op. cit. (28); Prosperi, Adriano, Die Gabe der Seele: Geschichte eines Kindsmordes, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2007 .

55 I draw on the work of Philippe Descola on modern naturalism and on his structuralist approach to an analysis of ontologies: Descola, Philippe, Beyond Nature and Culture, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013 . On the ‘empiricization of the human’ see Moravia, Sergio, ‘The enlightenment and the sciences of man’, History of Science (1980) 18(4), pp. 247268 ; Lepenies, Wolf, ‘Naturgeschichte und Anthropologie im 18. Jahrhundert’, in Fabian, Bernhard, Schmidt-Biggemann, Wilhelm and Vierhaus, Rudolf (eds.), Deutschlands kulturelle Entfaltung: Die Neubestimmung des Menschen, Munich: Kraus International Publications, 1980, pp. 211226 .

56 Bernfeld, Siegfried, Psychologie des Säuglings, Vienna: Verlag von Julius Springer, 1925, p. 27 .

57 On the coinage of the ‘internal other’ in the theoretical framework of an anthropological turn to ‘ontologies’ see Candea, Matei and Alcayna-Stevens, Lys, ‘Internal others: ethnographies of naturalism’, Cambridge Journal of Anthropology (2012) 30(2), pp. 3647 .

58 On the ‘making’ (or not) of children out of foetuses through social practice see Boltanski, Luc, La condition foetale: Une sociologie de l'avortement et de l'engendrement, Paris: Gallimard, 2004 ; Morgan, Lynn M., ‘Fetal relationality in feminist philosophy: an anthropological critique’, Hypatia (1996) 11(3), pp. 4770 .

59 Kanner, op. cit. (35), p. 249.

60 Camus, Albert, The Stranger, New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946 ; Simmel, Georg, ‘The stranger’, in Levine, Donald N. (ed.), On Individuality and Social Forms, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971, pp. 143149 . See also Schütz, Alfred, ‘The stranger: an essay in social psychology’, American Journal of Sociology (1944) 49(6), pp. 499507 .

61 Simmel described the object of his métier as the ‘reciprocal influencing’ of humans. Simmel, Georg, ‘The problem of sociology’, American Journal of Sociology (1909) 15(3), pp. 289320, 297. Discussions in philosophy and anthropology explored how humans connected, or the ‘limits of community’, as implied in the title of the 1924 book by German anthropologist Plessner, Helmuth, The Limits of Community: A Critique of Social Radicalism, New York: Humanity Books, 1999 .

62 Asperger, ‘Autistischen Psychopathen’, op. cit. (34), p. 91, my translation.

63 The roots of the cybernetic movement go back to the early 1940s but the project was officially founded with the Macy Conferences from 1946 to 1953. Citations in Vogl, Joseph, ‘Regierung und Regelkreis: Ein historisches Vorspiel’, in Pias, Claus (ed.), CYBERNETICS/KYBERNETIK: The Macy-Conferences 1946–1953, 2 vols., Berlin: Diaphanes, 2004, vol. 2, p. 67 , my translation; and Ruesch, Jurgen and Bateson, Gregory, Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry, New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 2009, p. viii . The book was originally published in 1951, and Bateson and Ruesch wrote the quoted passage in the preface to the 1968 edition.

64 Ruesch and Bateson, op. cit. (63), p. x.

65 Arguably the distinction between popular and scientific/pedagogical sources is not clear-cut. In fact, recent conceptualizations of science as ‘a form of communicative action’ (James Secord) can be read as explicit challenges to this distinction. However, the methodological question raised above still remains. See Secord, James A., ‘Knowledge in transit’, Isis (2004) 95(4), pp. 654–72; and Topham, Jonathan R., ‘Introduction’, Isis (2009) 100(2), pp. 310318 .

66 Quinn, Sandra Crouse and Thomas, Stephen B., ‘The national negro health week, 1915 to 1951: a descriptive account’, Minority Health Today (2001) 2, pp. 4449 ; Carson, Carolyn Leonard, ‘And the results showed promise … physicians, childbirth, and southern black migrant women’, Journal of American Ethnic History (1994) 14, pp. 3264 .

67 Clark, John T., ‘The migrant in Pittsburgh’, Opportunity (1923) 1, pp. 303307 .

68 Clark, op. cit. (67). Also Gaines, Kevin K., Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996 .

69 W.E.B. Du Bois, ‘Opinion of W.E.B. Du Bois’, Crisis, September 1924, p. 199; Smith, Katharine Capshaw, Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2004, p. 52 .

70 Ariès, Philippe, L'enfant et la vie familiale sous l'Ancien Régime, Paris: Plon, 1960 .

71 On childhood in the Middle Ages see Shahar, Shulamith (ed.), Childhood in the Middle Ages, London: Routledge, 1990 ; Schultz, James A., The Knowledge of Childhood in the German Middle Ages, 1100–1350, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995 ; and more recently Classen, Albrecht (ed.), Childhood in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: The Results of a Paradigm Shift in the History of Mentality, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2005 .

72 There is a considerable body of scholarship about a new view of childhood emerging around 1800 in modern European and American literature. Examples include Steedman, op. cit. (31); Martens, Lorna, The Promise of Memory: Childhood Recollection and Its Objects in Literary Modernism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011 ; Ewers, Hans-Heino, Kindheit als poetische Daseinsform: Studien zur Entstehung der romantischen Kindheitsutopie im 18. Jahrhundert. Herder, Jean Paul, Novalis und Tieck, Munich: Fink, 1989 ; Lloyd, Rosemary, The Land of Lost Content: Children and Childhood in Nineteenth-Century French Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992 .

73 Richter, Dieter, Das fremde Kind: Zur Entstehung der Kindheitsbilder des bürgerlichen Zeitalters, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1987, p. 25 .

74 Cf. Giuriato, Davide, ‘Geschichten vom kleinen Hans (Freud–Kafka)’, in Mülder-Bach, Inka and Ott, Michael (eds.), Was der Fall ist: Casus und Lapsus, Munich: Fink, 2015, pp. 129143 .

75 Miller, Daniel (ed.), Materiality, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005 .

76 Cook, op. cit. (4).

77 Cook, Daniel Thomas, The Commodification of Childhood, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004 .

78 Geulen, Eva, ‘Adalbert Stifters Kinder-Kunst: Drei Fallstudien’, Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte (1993) 67, pp. 648668 .

79 Giuriato, op. cit. (4).

80 Foucault, Michel, Der Wille zum Wissen: Sexualität und Wahrheit I, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983, p. 170 .

81 MacDorman, Marian F., Mathews, T.J., Mohangoo, Ashna D. and Zeitlin, Jennifer, ‘International comparisons of infant mortality and related factors: United States and Europe, 2010’, National Vital Statistics Reports (2014) 63, pp. 16 .

82 Du Bois, W.E.B., The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, New York: Schocken Books, 1899 ; Patterson, Andrea, ‘Germs and Jim Crow: the impact of microbiology on public health policies in Progressive Era American South’, Journal of the History of Biology (2009) 42, pp. 529559 .

83 On health programmes see Smith, Susan Lynn, Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Black Women's Health Activism in America, 1890–1950, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995 ; Hine, Darlene Clark, Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890–1950, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989 .

84 For example, the memoir of Terrell, Mary Church, A Colored Woman in a White World, Washington, DC: Ransdell Publishing Co., 1940, pp. 106108 ; also Georgia Douglas Johnson's poetry collection Bronze: A Book of Verse (1922), as well as her correspondence regarding the inspiration for writing Bronze: ‘I wrote Bronze – it is entirely racial and one section deals entirely with motherhood – that motherhood that has as its basic note – black children born into the world's displeasure’. Georgia Douglas Johnson to Arna Bontemps, 1941 letter as quoted in McHenry, Elizabeth, Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African-American Literary Societies, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002, p. 280 .

85 Du Bois, W.E.B., ‘Of the passing of the first-born’, Chapter 11 of The Souls of Black Folk, Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1903, pp. 207214, 213.

86 Larsen, Nella, Quicksand, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928, p. 103 .

87 Partridge, Sarah, Balayla, Jacques, Holcroft, Christina A. and Abenhaim, Haim A., ‘Inadequate prenatal care utilization and risks of infant mortality and poor birth outcome: a retrospective analysis of 28,729,765 U.S. deliveries over 8 years’, American Journal of Perinatology (2012) 29(10), pp. 787794 .

88 Kagan, Jerome, ‘American longitudinal research on psychological development’, Child Development (1964) 35, pp. 132, 2.

89 Adams, Vincanne, Murphy, Michelle and Clarke, Adele E., ‘Anticipation: technoscience, life, affect, temporality’, Subjectivity (2009) 28(1), pp. 246265, 246.

90 On antenatal care with regard to the emergence of the prenatal see Al-Gailani, op. cit. (22); Herschkorn-Barnu, Paule, ‘Adolphe Pinard et l'enfant à naître: L'invention de la médicine foetale’, Devenir (1996) 3, pp. 7787 . On optimization see Rose, Nikolas, The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007 .

We are grateful for generous support from the Princeton–Humboldt Strategic Partnership Program, the Das Wissen in der Literatur PhD net at Humboldt University of Berlin, the Center for Collaborative History and the Program in the History of Science at Princeton University. We also thank Katja Guenther, Michael Gordin, Yael Geller, Joyce Lainé and two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of the article.

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The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
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