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Chronic Youth

Chronic Youth

Disability, Sexuality, and U.S. Media Cultures of Rehabilitation

by Julie Passanante Elman
Publication Date: 20/10/2014
The teenager has often appeared in culture as an anxious figure,

the repository for American dreams and worst nightmares, at once on the brink

of success and imminent failure. Spotlighting the "troubled teen" as a site of

pop cultural, medical, and governmental intervention, Chronic Youth

traces the teenager as a figure through which broad threats to the normative

order have been negotiated and contained.

Examining television, popular novels, science journalism, new

media, and public policy, Julie Passanante Elman shows how the teenager became

a cultural touchstone for shifting notions of able-bodiedness,

heteronormativity, and neoliberalism in the late twentieth century. By the late

1970s, media industries as well as policymakers began developing new problem-driven

'edutainment' prominently featuring narratives of disability-from the

immunocompromised The Boy in the Plastic Bubble to ABC's After School

Specials and teen sick-lit. Although this conjoining of disability

and adolescence began as a storytelling convention, disability became much more

than a metaphor as the process of medicalizing adolescence intensified by the

1990s, with parenting books containing neuro-scientific warnings about the

incomplete and volatile "teen brain." Undertaking a cultural history of youth

that combines disability, queer, feminist, and comparative media studies, Elman

offers a provocative new account of how American cultural producers,

policymakers, and medical professionals have mobilized discourses of disability

to cast adolescence as a treatable "condition." By tracing the teen's uneven

passage from postwar rebel to 21st century patient, Chronic Youth shows

how teenagers became a lynchpin for a culture of perpetual rehabilitation and

neoliberal governmentality.
Cultural studies
Publication Date:
New York University Press
Country of origin:
United States
Dimensions (mm):

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