Race in the Schoolyard
Negotiating the Color Line in Classrooms and Communities
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Series: Series in Childhood Studies
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Insanity, in one disguise or another, has always been with us, an occasional unbidden guest in life’s masquerade. In recent centuries, however, it has appeared in previously unseen masks and in much greater numbers. For many of those afflicted, insanity not only ruins festivities, it destroys life itself....
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Our analysis of historical material has been possible only because of the kind assistance of many people. Foremost among those to whom we are indebted are Herb, Kirk, and Andrew MacDonald, Faith Dickerson, Christine Miller, Hugh...
1. Introduction: Why Is the Epidemic Important?
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Some epidemics are obvious. In September 1918, 12,000 Americans died. The following month, 195,000 died. Four months later, the death toll had reached 675,000. Coffins were no longer available, so steam shovels dug mass graves. People hid in their homes, terrified, reluctant to go...
2. The Birth of Bedlam: Insanity Prior to 1700
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Occasional insanity as it existed for thousands of years had certain characteristics consistent with its medical and neurological origins. It might affect adults of any age, it was usually of brief duration, and the...
3. The “English Malady” Appears: England, 1700-1800
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The eighteenth century in England opened with Queen Anne’s ascension to the throne. Tragically, she had lost all fifteen of her children—ten by miscarriage or stillbirth, four in infancy, and one at age eleven. The century closed with King George III on the throne. In 1783 he...
4. “The Clap of Tortured Hands”: England 1800-1850
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Nineteenth-century England was marked with increasing glory and increasing insanity. The people of Shakespeare’s “scepter’d isle,” en route to their coronation as God’s elite, were increasingly delayed by masses...
5. “A Mania for Madness”: England, 1850-1890
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The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a wondrous event. It was held in London’s Hyde Park in the Crystal Palace, designed and built especially for the occasion, an immense glass-and-iron structure covering twenty-one acres...
6. “A Great and Progressive Evil”: England, 1890-1990
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By the closing years of the nineteenth century, England had become the dominant world power. It had assumed, in Kipling’s phrase, “the white man’s burden,” and had overrun, annexed, or purchased one-quarter of the earth’s land surface. England controlled territory from the....
7. The Road to Grangegorman: Ireland, 1700-1990
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In 1731 Jonathan Swift announced his intention to leave money in his will for the establishment of an insane asylum in Dublin. In Swiftian fashion, he memorialized his bequest with these lines in his “Verses on the Death...
8. “A Constantly Increasing Multitude”: Atlantic Canada, 1700-1990
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There is virtually no mention of insanity in accounts of Canadian settlement prior to the eighteenth century. Within the seventy-five volumes of the Relations, published annually by the seventeenth- century Jesuit missionaries, for example, there are descriptions of epilepsy and other...
9. “The Disease Whose Frequency Has Become Alarming”: The United States, 1700-1840
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As in Mother England, insanity in the American colonies existed but did not appear to be common in the seventeenth century. “It is unlikely,” Richard Shryock notes, “that the settlers of the English colonies...
10. An Apostle for Asylums: The United States, 1840–1860
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By 1840, the United States was exhibiting many problems of an adolescent nation. Unemployment was high, with lost confidence in the currency following the Panic of 1837. Abolitionists clashed increasingly regularly with pro-slavery supporters as the rhetoric on both sides....
11. “A Very Startling Increase”: The United States, 1860–1890
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Wars are never kind to individuals with insanity, and the Civil War was no exception. Following closely upon the financial panic of 1857, the war depleted state treasuries, so that asylums lacked basic supplies....
12. “The Apocalyptic Beast”: The United States, 1890-1990
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By 1890 the asylum superintendents were exhausted by the continuing increase of insanity. The hope and therapeutic optimism of their earlier years had been suffused by relentless waves of patients and by criticism....
13. Why Is the Epidemic Forgotten?: The Politicalization of Insanity
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Living amid an ongoing epidemic that nobody notices is surreal. It is like viewing a mighty river that has risen slowly over two centuries, imperceptibly claiming the surrounding land, millimeter by millimeter. The people who once lived on the land have either died or moved away, and...
14. Possible Causes of Epidemic Insanity
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The foregoing analysis of insanity rates in England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States suggests that the prevalence of insanity, as a rate per population, increased at least sevenfold between the mid–eighteenth and the mid–twentieth centuries; in Ireland and the United...
Appendix A: What Is Insanity?
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Appendix B: The Baseline Rate of Insanity
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Appendix C: Tables of Insanity Rates
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About the Authors
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Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2003
Series Title: Series in Childhood Studies