Inventing Modern Adolescence: The Children of Immigrants in Turn-of-the-Century America

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The 1960s are commonly considered to be the beginning of a distinct "teenage culture" in America. But did this highly visible era of free love and rock 'n' roll really mark the start of adolescent defiance? In Inventing Modern Adolescence Sarah E. Chinn follows the roots of American teenage identity further back, to the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. She argues that the concept of the "generation gap"—a stereotypical complaint against American teens—actually originated with the division between immigrant parents and their American-born or -raised children. Melding a uniquely urban immigrant sensibility with commercialized consumer culture and a youth-oriented ethos characterized by fun, leisure, and overt sexual behavior, these young people formed a new identity that provided the framework for today's concepts of teenage lifestyle.Addressing the intersecting issues of urban life, race, gender, sexuality, and class consciousness, Inventing Modern Adolescence is an authoritative and engaging look at a pivotal point in American history and the intriguing, complicated, and still very pertinent teenage identity that emerged from it.
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Editorial Reviews

Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, in History, Rutgers Universi - Virginia Yans

Sarah Chinn is an extraordinarily creative scholar who draws on an unusually rich palette of sources to create this provocative work. Inventing Modern Adolescence, our immigration history to our contemporary concerns about youth in an original and exciting way.
Assistant Professor, Harvard University - Robin Bernstein

"Through close readings of literary and photographic texts, Chinn substantially revises and re-periodizes the history of youth culture in the United States, showing how non-elite cultural agents forged teenage identity decades earlier than historians have previously supposed."
Allan K. & Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of Literature, Trinity College - Paul Lauter

"Sarah Chinn brilliantly reads Lewis Hine photographs, Abraham Cahan fictions, Margaret Mead anthropology, dance hall pamphlets, museum brochures, even White House reports to illuminate how early 20th-century working kids produced what we know today as 'adolescence.' What she does, remarkably, is make teen culture interesting, even meaningful, to adults."
author of Dependent States - Karen S�nchez-Eppler

"In prose alive with the bold, fun-loving, risk-taking energy of the adolescents she studies, Sarah Chinn uncovers the American origins of the very idea of a rebellious and distinctive youth culture. Chinn's sharply original and convincing arguments show how the specific conditions of immigrant life fostered the generational conflict and leisure consumption that have come to seem the very nature of adolescence. Inventing Modern Adolescence describes in lively detail how 'the teenager,' that quintessentially American figure, was formed through the work and play of brave, independent, immigrant kids.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813543109
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2008
  • Series: The Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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