Volume 47, number 4 (November-December 2012)

Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications that Helped Condemn Comics

By Carol L. Tilley

pp. 383 - 413


Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham and his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent serve as historical and cultural touchstones of the anti-comics movement in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Although there have been persistent concerns about the clinical evidence Wertham used as the basis for Seduction, his sources were made widely available only in 2010. This paper documents specific examples of how Wertham manipulated, overstated, compromised, and fabricated evidence—especially that evidence he attributed to personal clinical research with young people—for rhetorical gain.

Computer Science in French Universities: Early Entrants and Latecomers

By Pierre Mounier-Kuhn

pp. 414 - 456


How do new disciplines develop in certain universities more than in others ? The history of computing in France suggests a model to describe the development process that shapes the geography of science. In the 1950s, a few professors of numerical analysis, often associated with a school of electrical engineering, created three-fold structures comprising courses in applied mathematics, a computing facility, and a research laboratory. Such local configurations initiated a cumulative development process, attracting more resources and opening the field to novel investigations in computer science. In other universities, these configurations were not completed and computing remained confined to technical training. In the 1960s, the pioneers became leaders in the growing field and controlled the definition of computer science curricula. As the institutes they had created reached considerable size, these leaders began to spin off junior professors toward other universities. The centers remain major academic centers in the discipline today.

The Performance of Information Flows in the Art of Stephen Willats

By Sharon Irish

pp. 457 - 486


In the 1970s, artist Stephen Willats wanted to explore participation and interaction within an art context. He viewed participation and interaction as ways to help those involved in art gain control of their environments. With that in mind, he created the means to collect, sort, code, process, and use data to foster exchanges, essentially performing information flows using computers to help examine social systems. Willats expanded his art beyond any particular fixed object to stress the process of change. “Meta Filter” and the “Edinburgh Social Model Construction Project” enacted exchanges of information among groups, instantiating Willats’ cybernetic way of thinking.

Organizational Learning and Home-Grown Writing: The Library Staff Magazine in Britain in The First Half of the Twentieth Century

By Alistair Black

pp. 487 - 513


Staff magazines in British public libraries emerged in the early-twentieth century. Unlike staff magazines in private enterprises, which pre-date them by two decades, library staff magazines were more truly the product of employees, inaugurated and operated as they often were by staff associations. This study is based on an analysis of staff magazines in three public library systems in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century: Croydon, Sheffield, and Leeds. Against backdrops of growing popular education, organizational enlargement, changing management styles, and increasing professionalization, the library staff magazine provided opportunities for employees to write. This was undertaken as a pastime; as a form of organizational learning and networking; as a contribution to labor and occupational solidarity; and, finally, as a vehicle for professional advancement and professional identity formation, though one which contained an element of “othering” of the public as well as of junior and female staff.

This issue can be found on Project MUSE