Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, Writes Essay in City Paper for National Library Week

For National Library Week, Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz wrote an essay in City Paper that examines the value of borrowing books, especially children’s books, from the library.

"Inside Picture Books" by Ellen Handler Spitz

“Feeling rebellious over our dizzying speed-mad era of e-books, e-readers, digital and virtual realities, I want to advocate for the practice of borrowing a good old-fashioned book from the library—especially now, during National Library Week. I want to remind everyone of the simple joy of settling down in a cozy nook, turning well-worn pages, and reading aloud to a child,” Spitz writes.

She discusses the value of reading children’s books of the past and maintaining links among generations, while also focusing on the importance of fostering imagination and creativity in young readers.

“With no slight intended but rather my sincere appreciation to the wonderful children’s book authors of today, I urge you to check out the classics of the past. Borrow them from your library. Share them with the children in your life.  Their quality rewards sustained attention—hushed, absorbed hours. Read alone or with an adult, they allow today’s children to slow down, to turn away from trivial distractions, and to expand inwardly in historic time, from generation to generation…”

To read the complete essay titled “Remembering Children’s Books of Yesteryear During National Library Week,” click here.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, Participates in Community Development Program in Appalachia

Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz recently traveled to Sewanee, Tennessee to the University of the South, where she was invited as a guest lecturer in the pioneering program, “Child, Family and Community Development in Rural Appalachia.”

EHS at Sewanee

Ellen Handler Spitz reads to children as part of the “Child, Family and Community Development in Rural Appalachia” program.

The program is sponsored by the University of the South, The Yale Child Study Center and Scholastic. A major goal of the program is to help children and families in poverty-stricken Appalachia while building community and fostering a rich cultural life.

As part of the program, Spitz lectured and read story books to four groups of children ranging from three to six years old and met with colleagues and planners, sitting in on a variety of sessions and classes that involve the program, the arts, children’s literature and psychology.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, in University of Michigan Press Blog

As Lorrainne Hansberry’s 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun, opens with Denzel Washington on Broadway, Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz is being recognized for her book which devotes an entire chapter to exploring the play’s significance.

Illuminating Childhood Ellen Handler Spitz

Excerpt’s from Spitz’s book, Illuminating Childhood, Portraits in Film, Fiction, and Drama, are quoted in a University of Michigan Press blog post about the play. “Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun, was both her first and the first by any playwright of color to astonish Broadway,” Spitz writes in the book. “Crossing boundaries of race, ideology, and class, it puts onstage an unforgettable portrayal of parent-child relations, bridging all gaps, and the maturity of Hansberry’s grasp, at the age of twenty-eight, is breathtaking.”

To read the full blog post and for more on Illuminating Childhood, click here.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, to Participate in Helix Center Roundtable

Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz is participating in a roundtable discussion at the Helix Center in New York City devoted to the topic of children’s drawing. The program will focus on linguistic, art historical, and psychoanalytic perspectives on drawings by Ethiopian children.

Ellen Handler Spitz Brightening Glance

The roundtable, titled “From Children’s Sights to Our Insights: Ethiopian Children’s Drawings, Stories and Inner Lives,” is scheduled to take place Saturday, January 25th from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Other panelists include Theodore Shapiro, Professor Emeritus at Weill-Cornell Medical College, and Nathan M. Szajnberg, Wallerstein Research Fellow in Psychoanalysis at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. 

You can read more about the event here.

UPDATE 2/12/14: The complete video of the Helix Center roundtable discussion is now posted online and it can be watched in its entirety below.

Simon Stacey, Honors College, on The Marc Steiner Show

The Marc Steiner Show held a special two-hour tribute to Nelson Mandela on Monday, who passed away last week at the age of 95. The program featured guests from all over the world who discussed the life and legacy of Mandela, including some who fought with him to end Apartheid.

Honors College Director Simon Stacey was a guest during the show’s second hour, which discussed Mandela’s legacy and contemporary politics in South Africa.

“It’s difficult to imagine South Africa having weathered the transition without Mandela at the helm, especially after he was made the face of the armed struggle,” Stacey said.

“If Mandela had died on the operating table in the early 80s when he was having his prostate surgery, if the long bout with tuberculosis in the late 80s had killed him, I don’t think South Africa would have made it,” he added.

Other panelists in the discussion included Patrick Bond, professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Zane Ibrahim, who grew up in Mandela’s era and was in exile at the time of the resistance.

You can listen to the full segment on The Marc Steiner Show here.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, Hosts Enchantment Theater of Philadelphia

Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz, under the auspices of Honors College Director Simon Stacey, invited Enchantment Theater Company of Philadelphia to present two, two and a half-hour long workshops in her classes last week.

Great Books-2013 Enchantment Theater

Photo of students taken by Honors student Sehrash Khan.

Enchantment co-directors Jennifer and Landis Smith screened scenes from their latest production, spoke on their use of classical music (Rimksy-Korsakov’s “Scherezade”), masks, gigantic puppets, fabrics, projections and sleight-of-hand magic to create evocative, nearly wordless imaginings of tales from “The Arabian Nights.”

Dr. Spitz’s students, having read and studied several tales from the Nights, donned masks and experienced first-hand the processes of transformation from text to theater and from words to gesture and mime.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, to Participate in New York Review of Books Panel

Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz has been invited to speak on a panel at McNally Jackson Bookstore in New York City.

"Inside Picture Books" by Ellen Handler Spitz

The New York Review of Books has been republishing time-honored classic books for children for the past decade, and this panel has been convened to celebrate this venture on its tenth anniversary.

Edwin Frank, editor of the NYRB’s Children’s Collection, and Betsy Bird, New York Public Library Children’s Librarian, will discuss the changing character of children’s books with Ellen Handler Spitz and other children’s literature experts.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 10th at McNally Jackson Bookstore. You can find more information here.

David Levering Lewis to Present W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture (11/13)

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Levering Lewis is this year’s speaker for the W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture, “W.E.B. Du Bois Fifty Years after the March on Washington.” He is the author of eight books and editor of two more.

David Levering Lewis

Lewis is a Professor of History at New York University and his field is comparative history with special focus on twentieth-century United States social history and civil rights. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography twice for part one and part two of his biography of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1994 and 2001 respectively.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies, the Department of History, the Department of American Studies, the Language, Literacy and Culture Doctoral Program, the Honors College, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, and the Mosaic Center of the Office of Student Life.

The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on November 13th in the University Center Ballroom.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College Professor, in Artcritical

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is hosting an exhibit on Belgian Surrealist painter Rene Magritte. The show, Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938, is running through January 12, 2014.

Magritte painting

Artcritical has published an article about Magritte by Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz in conjunction with the exhibition.

The show is attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. After New York City, it travels to Houston and then Chicago.

You can read the full article by Ellen Handler Spitz here.

Marc Steiner Show reairs episode on African American women and feminism with UMBC’s Jodi Kelber-Kaye

On Wednesday, July 17, the Marc Steiner Show reaired its episode on the 162nd anniversary of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” followed by a discussion on African American women and feminism. Jodi Kelber-Kaye, associate director of the honors college, joined singer and activist, Lea Gilmore; Dream Hampton, journalist and cultural commentator; and A. Adar Ayira, project manager of the More in the Middle Campaign for Associated Black Charities for a conversation about the growing divide between the feminist movement and African American women.

“The word feminism is a more recent invention, and if we want to say it was invented out of white women’s movements we could easily say that,” Kelber-Kaye said. “Black women’s rights people have always had a dissonant relationship with that term.”

Listen to the full episode »