Constructing the 'gifted child': psychology, family and identity in Britain since 1945


  • Dr Jennifer Crane

    University of Oxford

Project summary

In the 2017 film Gifted, gifted child Mary says of her uncle, who is embroiled in a custody battle, ‘He's a good person. He wanted me before I was smart.’ This project looks at the idea that being labelled as 'gifted' may change a child’s relationships with their extended families and peers.  

Since 1945, children labelled as gifted have been brought into contact with psychologists, educational psychologists and, more recently, neuroscientists and geneticists. I will ask how individual children and families reacted to, reshaped, or resisted medical, psychological, and professional interventions, and what this tells us about broader public acceptance of medical and social knowledge sets.  

This project uses Britain as its central case study, but also explores how ideas from psychologists, teachers and parents in Britain were drawn from Western Europe and North America.