Fred Reid
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The Panopticon
Towards an intimate history of special schools for the blind
in Disability and the Victorians
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In this chapter the author narrates his direct and personal insights into the continuity of Victorian values and practices relating to the welfare and education of blind people that were maintained well into the twentieth century. Using his novella, The Panopticon, which is based on his lived experiences of growing up in a residential blind school in the 1950s, the author argues that residential institutions for disabled people acted similarly to prisons in some aspects of their treatment of those in their care, particularly in relation to how personal relationships between pupils were regulated and the ways in which transgressions of the strict moral code of the institution were punished. He also illustrates how these places of education failed to prepare their pupils for the sexual challenges of adolescence and adult life, while acknowledging the benefits that communal living with contemporaries could provide.

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Disability and the Victorians

Attitudes, interventions, legacies


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