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Response to Review of Framing the Moron: the Social Construction of Feeble-Mindedness in the American Eugenic Era

I’m very grateful for Erika Dyck for her careful reading of my work as well as her thoughtful review. I appreciate Erika’s comments, and really can’t take issue with any of them. In fact, several of her comments relate to quandaries I experienced in finishing it. Regarding the historical background information, for example, I had  originally included several introductory chapters detailing the eugenics era. As I finished the book, these chapters became progressively smaller, until they evolved into a section of my introduction. I think a conundrum one has in writing a historical work relates to the amount of historical information to include. Many readers will approach the book with extensive knowledge of the period, others with very little. Because of the large number of general eugenics works that have been published over the past few decades, I felt that little basic historical information was needed. In retrospect I agree with Erica’s comments about this, as I probably overcorrected and cut too much of this information. While I attempted to include some of it within various endnotes, I understand that this doesn’t necessarily provide the depth of background information readers might want. Yes, I do state that such accounts are available in other texts, but I realize this could be frustrating to readers of my text, especially if they can’t easily access these other readings.

I also agree with her comment relating to the chronological aspect of the use of various metaphor themes. In fact, I am currently working on an immigration article where I do consider how these themes change with the times, and realize I had some missed opportunities in the book to consider these analysis elements to a greater extent. While I would not have changed the text to take a chronological approach, I would have included additional analysis, especially in my concluding chapter, which details some of the important sociological and political components that ‘fed’ how various themes were employed.

Again, I appreciate Dr. Dyck’s review, and also am pleased that Reviews in History is publishing the review.