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IdiocyA Cultural History$
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Patrick McDonagh

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781846310959

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315367

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Innocence, philanthropy and economics: the new ‘asylum’ idiot

Innocence, philanthropy and economics: the new ‘asylum’ idiot

(p.192) Chapter 9 Innocence, philanthropy and economics: the new ‘asylum’ idiot
Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the growth of the asylum movement in the early 1840s until the 1860s, and considers how this movement vigorously transformed the innocent idiot into an unreclaimed being who could be educated and woven into the Victorian social fabric. Supporters of educational asylums drew upon traditional imagery to work upon the sentiments of readers (who were, notably, also important sources of funding), while at the same time portraying the uneducated idiot as a subhuman brute who could be reclaimed for humanity by the dedicated work of caring physicians and educators.

Keywords:   asylum movement, educational asylums, idiot

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