By Professor Sarah E. Chinn
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Additional info for Inventing Modern Adolescence: The Children of Immigrants in Turn-of-the-Century America (Series in Childhood Studies)
Stanley Hall’s words, that for young people “to have a good time is felt to be an inalienable right. The joys of life are never felt with so keen a relish; youth lives for pleasure, whether of an epicurean or an esthetic type” (2:77). This deﬁnition of fun is different from the concept of play, which also enjoyed a new legitimacy at the end of the nineteenth century. Associated with the playground movement and various progressive educational theories like the Montessori and Waldorf methods, play was imagined as the purview of children as work was of adults (I discuss this in more detail in chapter 2).
All the other ﬁgures in the photograph face the viewer, whether looking directly at the camera or absorbed in another person. Only he has turned away, his expression obscured not only by the lack of focus, but also by his own movements. His place in the various narratives one might apply to this picture is ambiguous—is he part of the picture? Is his turning away an act of resistance? Shyness? Bad timing? In many ways his ambivalent relationship to the camera and to the viewer encapsulates the place of the adolescent immigrant: neither completely of the immigrant story yet wholly transformed by it.
Hall’s earlier work on the development of young boys had shaken much of the educational establishment in the 1890s. 5 By the time Hall had ﬁnished his study of adolescence in the early twentieth century, theories of recapitulation were out of fashion. 6 Rather than arguing that adolescents restaged crucial moments in human evolution, Hall sounded the alarm that teenagers were growing up too fast. “Never,” Hall claimed, “is the body so imperiously dominant and so insistently in evidence,” and the danger was that young people might unwittingly give in to their bodies’ imperious “Youth Must Have Its Fling” 17 demands.
Inventing Modern Adolescence: The Children of Immigrants in Turn-of-the-Century America (Series in Childhood Studies) by Professor Sarah E. Chinn