This article tracks the development of what educators and psychologists, in 1909, termed “mental testing” in relation to art education in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). According to CPS Superintendent Edwin G. Cooley (1857-1923) American civilization was in trouble due to the influx of Southern and Eastern European immigrants in Chicago. He and other educators sought to ward off the social collapse they feared with the efficiency of science. As part of what Sol Cohen termed the “medicalization of education,” Chicago’s Department of Child Study tested students for mental capacity and those considered less intelligence were placed in technical classes, while others considered advanced went to professional and academic classes. The authors tells this narrative as a science fiction of intelligence, to analyze Julia Wrigley’s narrative of Colley’s bureaucracy of testing and tracking, looking through the lens of Ambrose Bierce’s *1842-1914) science fiction short story, “Moxon’s Master.” This comparison reveals parallels in Cooley’s bureaucracy and Bierce’s science fiction in relation to social efficiency and art education in Chicago.


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