Title

"Making Lovely Nonsense out of everything": Individuated Receptions of Eugenic Theories of Cognitive Disability

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

This project examines the rhetorical strategies that parents of children with cognitive disabilities use in appeals to medical authority. A close reading of four sets of letters from the Henry Herbert Goddard Papers reveals that parents were often sophisticated rhetorical agents who internalized, critiqued, and reappropriated eugenic theories and ideas. This archival project explores sites of eugenic thought’s reception, which are often overshadowed by scholarly attention to sites of production and dissemination. In an effort to increase attention to sites of reception, I outline a framework that invites future research to consider how recipients of theories of cognitive disability position themselves within professional networks of expertise in order to make claims from what might appear to be a subordinate position.

College/Unit

College of Arts, Sciences and Technology

Academic Department

English and Humanities

Publication or Event Title

Disability & Society

First Page

406

Last Page

420

DOI

10.1080/09687599.2016.1174104

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