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Juniata English Professor to Give Talk on Eugenics as a Social Movement

(Posted November 3, 2008)

David Hutto, assistant professor of English

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- From the 1890s to around 1930, the United States became enamored with eugenics, a still-controversial social movement that recommended improving the human race through selective breeding and other methods. David Hutto, assistant professor of English at Juniata College, will give a talk on eugenics, titled, "You Aren't Good Enough to Have Children: How Eugenics Became a Science and Stopped Being a Science" at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Bookend Seminar series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Eugenics was first popularized as a science in England by Francis Galton, who argued that genius and talent were hereditary and humans could use selective breeding methods to improve society as a whole. In America, the theories of eugenics were supported in part by such leaders as Woodrow Wilson, Alexander Graham Bell and Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood of America.

Over time, eugenics fell from favor when interest groups began to use the movement's theories to argue against immigration and interracial marriage. Ultimately, the theories of eugenics were pushed to horrifying extremes by Nazi Germany, whose leaders justified the Holocaust and other "racial hygiene" programs by claiming that the Nazis needed to maintain a "pure" German race.

Hutto's lecture will focus on how eugenics became a prominent movement in the early part of the 20th century. He will talk in detail on how eugenics was perceived initially as an acceptable new science that could solve societal problems such as mental illness, hereditary diseases and overpopulation, and later lost its credibility as an acceptable science.

Hutto has taught at Juniata College since 2005. He previously was an assistant professor of English at Rowan University, in Glassboro, N.J., from 2000 to 2005. He earned a bachelor's degree in Russian language from West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va. in 1980. He went on to earn a master's degree in Russian literature in 1982 from Purdue University and a master's degree in English literature and composition in 1988 from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C.

He earned a doctoral degree in rhetoric and composition from Georgia State University in 1998 in Atlanta, Ga. Hutto also studied abroad in Moscow and Leningrad. He also worked as an assistant professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College (formerly Dekalb College) in Atlanta, Ga. from 1995 to 2000.

He has published articles in such journals as Technical Communication Quarterly, Humanities in the South and Rhetorica. He has published his fiction in Artists & Madmen, Skylark, Crazyhorse, Blue Moon Review and other journals.


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.