In the Journal of Management History, Arthur Bedeian uses the chronology of how an aphorism became, and continued to be, credited to Kurt Lewin as an historiographic illustration in order to critique how errors of attribution can be perpetuated by historians, and to model a method for correcting this tendency.
Titled “A note on the aphorism ‘there is nothing as practical as a good theory,’” this piece traces “the history of the above-captioned aphorism back through its use by the General Electric Company in the 1920s to Friedrich W. Dörpfeld’s 1873 book Grundlinien einer Theorie des Lehrplans, zunächst der Volks- und Mittelschul.” While doing so, Bedeian provides commentary on the widespread challenge presented to historians by historical inaccuracies.
Margaret DeLacy over at the H-Scholar network has linked to a resource that could be of interest to our readership: a large collection of ProQuest info for dissertations from subject areas within the umbrella of the ‘medical humanities’ that has been compiled by the University of Pittsburgh’s History of Medicine Librarian, John Erlen.
Erlen has been contributing to the collection on a monthly basis since 2001, and when you click on each topic of interest it takes you to his most recent addition. However at the top of each page there is also the option to “browse all available months for this topic,” which takes you to the full sub-list for the subject area (e.g. Psychiatry/Psychology and History).
AHP‘s very own contributor Jennifer Bazar has curated a fascinating online historical archive and exhibit on the Oak Ridge forensic mental health division of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, Ontario. Find the exhibit here.
Established in 1933 and closed last year (2014), the Oak Ridge division at Waypoint was Ontario’s only maximum security forensic hospital served by both the provincial criminal justice and mental health systems. The exhibit opens the locked doors of its eighty one year history “to dispel the misconceptions and stereotypes that surround forensic mental health care centres and their clients,” and compellingly tells its unique story by sharing artefacts, photographs, and archival documents “to demonstrate how treatment practices, security restrictions, and individual experiences both changed and remained consistent” throughout the institute’s existence. Exhibit sections include: Origins, Building, Legislation, Treatment, Daily Life, Patients, Staff, Research, and Community.
You can also browse through the exhibit content here (400+ items total: photos, docs, artefacts, audio, video), and please look forward to further additions to the collection over the next year including “personal experiences from patient case records, interviews, and oral histories with former staff members of the Oak Ridge division.”
To write such a history is a daunting task. Why should we undertake it? Gender analysis offers some particularly rich historiographic potential for psychology as a science that is not only gendered on multiple levels but also directly produces scientific knowledge about gender itself. It is a powerful contributor to – as much as it draws upon – the ‘beliefs about gender’ that affect everyday experience and how we understand each other and ourselves. This deeply reflexive nature of psychology has been extensively discussed by historians (see Smith, 2005). Gender is one of the primary axes of self-understanding and social and political organisation – including that of science. Thus, examining how the gendering of psychology has influenced its knowledge-generation about gender can help us begin to disentangle the science/gender system in new ways. Finally, by bringing close historical scrutiny to the ways that gender ideologies run in and through psychology, we can start to destabilise – and perhaps even change – them today.
In an article forthcoming in Theory & Psychology Mariagrazia Proietto and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo explore the history of the idea of “crisis” in psychology through the lens of Italian psychology. The article is now available OnlineFirst here. Full title and abstract follow below.
“The “crisis” of psychology between fragmentation and integration: The Italian case,” by Mariagrazia Proietto and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo. The abstract reads,
Crisis, as a construct, recurs in the history of psychology and has attracted the attention of psychological historians and philosophers in recent years, who have given life not only to a debate about psychological historiography, but also to a philosophical-epistemological reflection about the foundations of scientific psychology. These scholars, however, ignore the Italian literature on the theme, which is rich with useful details for both areas. After an analysis of the different meanings historically applied to the term crisis, this article examines the history of Italian psychology with a description of the origins and developments and with special attention paid to the construct of crisis. The analysis covers both the output of early 20th-century Italian psychologists on the theme, and how this has been treated in historians’ reconstruction of the theme. The article provides new historiographical elements within the framework of international research on the crisis.
The volume is comprised of sections on: philosophical/conceptual approaches, historical approaches, narrative and social psychological approaches, and theoretical studies of scientific, professional, and life practices.
Chapters of particular interest to our readership include:
Theory for and as Social Practice of Realizing the Future: Implications from a Transformative Activist Stance, by Anna Stetsenko
Historical Thinking as a Tool for Theoretical Psychology: On Objectivity by Thomas Teo
The History of Psychological Objects by Adrian Brock
Historical Ontology, by Jeff Sugarman
Historiometry, by Dean Keith Simonton
Statistical Thinking in Psychological Research: In Quest of Clarity through Historical Inquiry and Conceptual Analysis, by James T. Lamiell
Allies in Interdisciplinary Spaces: Theoretical and Science Studies, by Kareen R. Malone and Lisa M. Osbeck
Feminism and Theoretical Psychology, by Alexandra Rutherford, Kate Sheese, and Nora Ruck
Continuing the theme of the history of madness that has organically cropped up in our posts as of late, the Finnish University of Oulu‘s Department of the History of Science and Ideas has launched a new forum for scholars of madness as a substantive topic with a geographic focus on the Nordic region specifically, Europe at large, but with a global scope.
Their mission statement is as follows:
The main purpose of Madness Studies is to provide a useful platform for communication, cooperation and collaboration across national borders and disciplinary boundaries. At this early stage, the primary goal is to compile data about scholars, doctoral students and research groups involved in research activities, as well as inform about conferences, journals, books and primary sources. Potential future forms of activities include a founding of a society and organization of meetings devoted to the multidisciplinary aspects of madness.
Current projects include: modern depression and contemporary culture in Finland, a history of the life and conditions of Danish children and adults who were taken into public care during the period 1945–1980, mental health, medicine and social engineering in 20th century Finland, and perspectives on current forms of social vulnerabilities in contemporary Finnish society.
Current scholars range from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, and Spain in Europe, to Canada, the US, Argentina, and Australia.
Find further details here. Apply to join the network here!
Here at AHP, we’re interested in fostering conversation about historiographic theory and methods, and as we have access to such a vibrant community of historians and allied researchers, I thought I’d forward this query posted on the H-Public discussions section of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.
The interview should take approximately one hour and can be conducted in person, over the telephone, or online using Go2Meeting. Your responses to these questions will be kept confidential. There is no compensation for participating in this study; however, I am confident that your participation will contribute significantly to this emerging area of research.
If you are willing to participate, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your interest. I am happy to answer any questions for you as well.
Historians of science (and other academic or professional disciplines) are used to studying how other people conduct research, but rarely have the spotlight turned on their own work. It is always beneficial to be be given the opportunity to take a look at your methodological ‘black box’ and reflect on those processes. If interested, please contact Alexandra.
The March 17 2015 episode of BBC 3’s Free Thinking with Matthew Sweet featured authors Andrew Scull and Lisa Appignanesi, who discussed the history of madness within Western contexts–the reflexive relations between how it has been conceptualized and experienced, philosophical and theoretical changes in how it has been studied academically and professionally, and the shifting social politics of how it is apprehended and engaged with by the publics at large.
The most recent issue of Theory & Psychology includes a several brief pieces on historiography in psychology. Contributions from Daniel Robinson (above), Kurt Danziger, and Thomas Teo debate the proper approach to the historiography of psychology, as well as the relationship between the history of psychology and the philosophy of psychology. Article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below. Join in on the discussion in the comments.
“Historiography in psychology: A note on ignorance,” by Daniel N. Robinson. The abstract reads,
A persistent theme in books and essays concerning the history of psychology suggests something amiss in tracing that history to ancient sources. Authoritative writers on the subject reject any intimation of continuity from classical to modern perspectives. Nonetheless, writers of textbooks identify the ancient world of philosophy and science as wellsprings of issues still alive within the discipline. To some, this tendency is attributed to simple ignorance. The controversy here is based on a failure to appreciate the relationship and the differences between continuity and recurrence, as well as an undisciplined application of terms far too protean for the intended purpose.