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An Uneasy Idealism: The Reconstruction of American Adolescence from World War II to the War on Poverty
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This dissertation argues that American adolescence was reconstructed in the two decades after the end of World War II. At the beginning of the period, adolescent behavior was widely seen as a function of biological and psychological factors inside the individual. By the end, more adults understood the behavior of the young as reflective of the broader social, cultural, and political currents in American life. This transition was primarily visible in the reformulation of juvenile delinquency policy during these years. It was also present in the other realms where adolescence was constructed: in the mass media's investigation and entrepreneurial exploitation of youth, in the discourses that surrounded youth culture and consumption, in battles over school curricula, and in the way adolescence was invoked by politicians and other authority figures. This project looks at the reconstruction of adolescence both nationally and in New York City, and ultimately demonstrates that the concept is often about much more than the collective experiences of an age group made up of individuals who are transitioning to adulthood.
Taking the Venereal out of Venereal Disease: The Public Health Campaign Against Syphilis, 1934-1945
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In the early 20th century, venereal diseases (VD) were estimated to affect 10-40% of the population at some point in their lives. If untreated, the long-term effects of these illnesses were serious--sterility, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and even death. In spite of this, VD had often been a taboo and underfunded issue because it had long been associated with marginalized groups, immorality, and hypersexuality. However, attitudes about and the visibility of venereal disease within American culture changed dramatically in the 1930s. By the end of the decade the topic was widely covered in popular media, and governments at every level appropriated millions of dollars to create robust control programs. These changes were part of a national public health campaign to "stamp out" VD led by Surgeon General Thomas Parran and the Public Health Service (PHS) that lasted through the end of World War II. This dissertation attempts to address how and why in the late 1930s VD control moved from the cultural periphery to become a mainstream issue and how this transformation shaped the form the program took. I argue the campaign tapped into discourses on the family, national recovery, poverty, economic security, and scientific progress and modern medicine that were salient to the American people in the 1930s and moved the issue away from questions of sex and morality and undermined previous race and gender stereotypes. These rhetorical relationships also shaped the priorities and boundaries of the program, at times helping to expand control efforts and sometimes limiting their efficacy. World War II encouraged further development of anti-VD programs; however, wartime anxieties and priorities reframed how Americans envisioned the problem of VD control and its solutions. Venereal disease became more strongly tied to "social protection" issues that reflected concerns about social stability broadly and the sexual behavior of women specifically. The new focus was on protecting the health of the nation's manpower (servicemen, workers) and prostitutes and promiscuous women seemed to be a threat to servicemen in particular. The war also revitalized efforts to reach African Americans with VD control programs, as their higher rates of illness now undermined the war effort.
American Missionaries, Armenian Community, and the Making of Protestantism in the Ottoman Empire, 1820-1860
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This dissertation explores how missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) started their journey to the East hoping to reach Jerusalem to "save" souls and "convert" Jews and Muslims in the Bible lands (1819), ultimately landed in Istanbul (1831), and partitioned the Armenian Church in the Ottoman Empire into two (1846). The study focuses upon American Protestant missionaries and examines their complex relations with the indigenous population of the region, especially the Armenians. Missionary relations with the "heathens" (as missionaries often referred to the locals) led to the formation of the "Protestant millet" in the Ottoman Empire. This study argues that American missionaries had contradictory impact on the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire. On the one hand, they introduced missionary services, most importantly education, to the Armenian community in the Ottoman capital and across Asia Minor, preparing Armenians for the financial and spiritual challenges of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, they divided the same community, transforming and creating new factions.
Love's Ethics: Sibilla Aleramo and Queer Feminism in Fin de Siècle Italy
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Utilizing the love story of feminists Sibilla Aleramo and Lina Poletti as a case study, this work illustrates lesbianism's complicated intersection with the public discourses of sexology, feminism and sexual ethics in turn-of-the-century Italy. While both Aleramo (famous for her 1906 feminist anthem, Una donna) and Poletti (a lesser-known scholar and activist) served on the frontlines of the Italian women's emancipation movement, their private lives lingered on the far periphery of acceptable sexual practices in recently-unified Italy. This dissertation looks at the public and private discourses surrounding the topics of women's homosexuality, love and polyamory in Italy in order to demonstrate how same-sex attraction, gender-nonconformity, feminism, and sexual ethics were understood and articulated by early-twentieth-century Italians. Italian public discourse by medical, criminological and social researchers categorized lesbianism as a disease, a sign or result of gender-nonconformity and sometimes criminality, or as a foreign plague infecting Italy's feminists. In contrast, Aleramo all but rejected the ideas of the sexologists and instead relied on the discourses of feminism and sexual ethics to inform her ideas on gender-nonconformity, homosexuality and monogamy. For her, homosexuality was not an identity or a disease. She saw love as feminist and debated sexual ethics in order to develop a new sexual space for herself and all Italian women, hetero- and homosexual.
The Bright Flash of Peace: Hiroshima in the World, 1945-1995
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Abstract The Bright Flash of Peace: Hiroshima in the World, 1945-1995 By Ran Zwigenberg This dissertation is a history of commemoration of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in the context of the global development of Holocaust and WW II memory. Using the history of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park as a platform, it examines the role of architecture, psychiatry, emotions, tourism, economics and politics to trace the process by which commemoration was used to normalize and domesticate the memory of the bombing within the discursive space of the Cold War. The "bright flash of peace," as a Hiroshima journalist - oxymoronically - referred to the A-bomb on its first anniversary, was conceptualized not as a cataclysmic horror but as a rebirth and a transformation that allowed its victims to find meaning in the quest for a future world without wars. The bombing, this manuscript argues, was thought to have bequeathed Hiroshima's victims with a global mission and importance. This was synchronous with, and influenced by, a similar view of the place of the victim/witness in Holocaust discourse. This development was not least a direct consequence of the unprecedented nature of the tragedies and of the failure of conventional means to represent and explain them. Hiroshima victims and the peace movement that surrounded these were the first to publicly use and disseminate testimonies as a way of tackling the complex and pressing issues of nuclear victimization. Thus, this manuscript uses the experience of commemoration of the Holocaust and its survivors, mostly in Israel but also elsewhere in the West as well as the East, not only as a point of comparison and contrast but also as an opportunity to trace the many links that ultimately emerged between Holocaust and A-bomb discourses. It traces the convergence of these discourses, the way the survivor was eventually elevated to be the ultimate bearer of moral authority, and the consequences of this development for commemoration and politics in Japan and elsewhere.