New Article Round-Up: Women of British Projective Testing, Psych & Womanpower, Woodsworth & James, & More

Margaret Lowenfeld

A quick new article roundup to usher you into the weekend. Forthcoming in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences are two articles exploring the queer history of women in projective testing in Britain and psychology’s post-WWII engagement with sex roles and womanpower, respectively. An article by David Leary in the most recent issue of William James Studies explores the influence of WIlliam Woodsworth on James’s psychology and philosophy. Finally, a piece in the most recent issue of Science, Technology, & Human Values explores the quantified self in relation to the “European Science of Work.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Queer signs: The women of the British projective test movement,” by Katherine Hubbard. Abstract:

As queer history is often hidden, historians must look for “signs” that hint at queer lives and experiences. When psychologists use projective tests, the search for queer signs has historically been more literal, and this was especially true in the homophobic practices of Psychology in the mid-twentieth century. In this paper, I respond to Elizabeth Scarborough’s call for more analytic history about the lesser known women in Psychology’s history. By focusing on British projective research conducted by lesbian psychologist June Hopkins, I shift perspective and consider, not those who were tested (which has been historically more common), but those who did the testing, and position them as potential queer subjects. After briefly outlining why the projective test movement is ripe for such analysis and the kinds of queer signs that were identified using the Rorschach ink blot test in the mid-twentieth century, I then present June Hopkins’ (1969, 1970) research on the “lesbian personality.” This work forms a framework upon which I then consider the lives of Margaret Lowenfeld, Ann Kaldegg, and Effie Lillian Hutton, all of whom were involved in the British projective test movement a generation prior to Hopkins. By adopting Hopkins’ research to frame their lives, I present the possibility of this ambiguous history being distinctly queer.

““Making better use of U.S. women” Psychology, sex roles, and womanpower in post-WWII America,” by Alexandra Rutherford. Abstract:

The relationship between American psychology and gender ideologies in the two decades following World War II was complicated and multivalent. Although many psy-professionals publicly contributed to the cult of domesticity that valorized women’s roles as wives and mothers, other psychologists, many of them women, reimagined traditional sex roles to accommodate and deproblematize the increasing numbers of women at work, especially working mothers. In this article, I excavate and highlight the contributions of several of these psychologists, embedding their efforts in the context of the paradoxical expectations for women that colored the postwar and increasingly Cold War landscape of the United States. By arguing that conflict was inherent in the lives of both women and men, that role conflict (when it did occur) was a cultural, not intrapsychic, phenomenon, and that maternal employment itself was not damaging to children or families, these psychologists connected the work of their first-wave, first-generation forebears with that of the explicitly feminist psychologists who would come after them.

““Authentic Tidings”: What Wordsworth Gave to William James,” by David Leary. Abstract:

It is widely recognized that William James had a profound and pervasive impact upon literary writers, works, styles, and genres, not to mention upon the encompassing frameworks of modernism and post-modernism, throughout the 20th century. Much less recognized is the impact of literature upon James’s life and work, whether in psychology or philosophy. This article looks at the influence of one particular author, William Wordsworth, primarily through his long 1814 poem The Excursion, from which James drew “authentic tidings” that helped him weather some early storms and create his distinctive way of thinking about the human mind and its place in nature.

“Taylorism, the European Science of Work, and the Quantified Self at Work,” by Christopher O’Neill. Abstract:

While the Quantified Self has often been described as a contemporary iteration of Taylorism, this article argues that a more accurate comparison is to be made with what Anson Rabinbach has termed the “European Science of Work.” The European Science of Work sought to modify Taylor’s rigid and schematic understanding of the laboring body through the incorporation of insights drawn from the rich European tradition of physiological studies. This “softening” of Taylorist methods had the effect of producing a greater “isorhythmia” or synchronicity between the bodily rhythms of workers and those of the mode of production itself and was embraced by employers as a way to dampen worker militancy. Through a discursive analysis of the promotion of sensor analytics by management consultants VoloMetrix and Humanyze, I argue that the contemporary quantification of the workplace represents a similar project of “soft domination,” as the intimate, bottom-up mode of surveillance it fosters seeks to more closely mold workers’ physiological and social rhythms to the structure of the workplace and the working day.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.