Tag Archives: queer history

History of the Human Sciences Special Issue: Psychology and its Publics

It is my pleasure to direct AHP readers to a just released special issue of History of the Human Science on Psychology and its Publics, guest edited by Michael Pettit and myself. The issue includes articles tackling a diverse array of topics on psychology’s relationship with the public, including: the public psychology of sentimentalism and the guillotine during the French Revolution; the construction of an attitudinal public in concert with the development of questionnaires; the dissemination of Albert Ellis’s rational therapy via popular media forms; the public’s interaction with psychological ideas via the graphic novel Watchmen and its queer history; the function of sexual assault surveys in structuring rape’s ontology and politicizing rape as a social issue; and consideration of the ontology of the public through the lens of deliberative public opinion. Thanks to all our contributors for their wonderful and thought provoking work!

In advance of the issue’s release I was also interviewed about the rationale and aims of the special issue by History of the Human Sciences editor-in-chief Felicity Callard. Read that interview in full here.

Full titles, authors, and abstracts for the pieces in the special issue follow below.

“Psychology and its publics,” by Michael Pettit and Jacy L. Young. Abstract:

This paper introduces the special issue dedicated to ‘Psychology and its Publics’. The question of the relationship between psychologists and the wider public has been a central matter of concern to the historiography of psychology. Where critical historians tend to assume a pliant audience, eager to adopt psychological categories, psychologists themselves often complain about the public misunderstanding of them. Ironically, both accounts share a flattened understanding of the public. We turn to research on the public understanding of science (PUS), the public engagement with science (PES) and communications studies to develop a rich account of the circuitry that ties together psychological experts and their subjects.

“The unfailing machine: Mechanical arts, sentimental publics and the guillotine in revolutionary France,” by Edward Jones-Imhotep. Abstract:

This article explores how the pre-eminent public psychology of the French Revolution – sentimentalism – shaped the necessity, understanding and construction of its most iconic public machine. The guillotine provided a solution to the problem of public executions in an age of both sentiment and reason. It was designed to rationalize punishment and make it more humane; but it was also designed to guard against the psychological effects of older, more variable and unpredictable methods of public execution on a sentimental public. That public, contemporaries argued, required executions performed by an unfailing technology. Rather than focus on the role of the guillotine after 1793, the article explores how the implacable mechanical action that helped produce the Reign of Terror and multiply the cadavers of medical science was demanded by the guillotine’s origins as a sentimental machine.

“Numbering the mind: Questionnaires and the attitudinal public,” by Jacy L. Young. Abstract: Continue reading History of the Human Sciences Special Issue: Psychology and its Publics

Share on Facebook

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

Share on Facebook