Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, on CBC Radio

Illuminating Childhood Ellen Handler SpitzOn December 19, Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz participated in a discussion on CBC Radio on “The Secret Lives of Children.” The segment centered around the idea that advances in technology combined with a strong focus on achievement can often suppress creativity, and children’s imagination can be a strong shield against cultural confinements.

During the segment, Spitz says that high tech toys should be traded in favor of letting children explore their inner worlds: “I think that children, when we allow them to make believe, this kind of vision and this kind of connecting…we should treasure it and not stamp it out.”

Spitz’s most recent research focuses on children’s aesthetic lives, and she has authored six books on the arts and psychology: “Art and Psyche” (Yale); “Image and Insight” (Columbia); “Museums of the Mind” (Yale); “Inside Picture Books” (Yale); “The Brightening Glance” (Pantheon); and “Illuminating Childhood” (Michigan). She most recently published “Magritte’s Labyrinth,” a new e-book which analyzes the artwork of Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte.

To listen to the full segment on CBC Radio, click here.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, Publishes New E-book

Magritte's Labyrinth Ellen Handler Spitz

A new e-book published by Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz analyzes the artwork of Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte and takes on questions that are rarely asked when studying Magritte’s work. The book, entitled “Magritte’s Labyrinth,” introduces a psychological perspective and examines the emotional impact of Magritte’s paintings. Below is an excerpt from a book review posted on Amazon.com:

Trained in art history, philosophy, and nonclinical psychoanalysis, Ellen Handler Spitz, the author of “Magritte’s Labyrinth,” was introduced to Magritte’s art by a New York psychologist who studied bereavement in childhood. Spitz found the images impossible to expunge. She reflects on them psychologically. She analyzes their subtle engagement with conflict, anxiety, and fear. She reads their humor and pathos as veils that both mask and disclose uncomfortable themes. “Magritte’s Labyrinth” offers its readers intriguing ways to understand their own idiosyncratic responses to this mysterious and fascinating art.

Spitz is the author of six books on the arts and psychology: “Art and Psyche” (Yale); “Image and Insight” (Columbia); “Museums of the Mind” (Yale); “Inside Picture Books” (Yale); “The Brightening Glance” (Pantheon); and “Illuminating Childhood” (Michigan). Her most recent research focuses on children’s aesthetic lives. She will be presenting two lectures next week in Germany. She will be discussing childhood and space at the University of Siegen and will also be giving a talk in Bielefeld.

TEDxUMBC (9/13)

We are excited to announce TEDxUMBC, in partnership with the BreakingGround, Honors College, Graduate Student Association, and Interdisciplinary Studies at UMBC! The event will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 10am-4pm at the University Center (UC) Ballroom. The day’s program will consist of 10 live speakers, including members of the UMBC community, as well as from the local Baltimore area.

There are only 100 spots available for attendees, so buy your tickets soon! Tickets will be $5 for UMBC Students and $10 for General Admission – there will be a small additional fee of less than $2 for buying tickets online.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Lee Blaney, Faculty Member
  • Tanvi Gadhia, Alumna and Staff Member
  • Patrick Jenkins, Undergraduate Student
  • Yoo-Jin Kang, Undergraduate Student
  • George Kosmides, Community Member
  • Stephen Marengo, Staff Member
  • Kimberly Moffitt, Faculty Member
  • Tamara Peters, Faculty Member
  • Rafay Qureshi, Undergraduate Student
  • Stacy Branham, Associate Research Scientist

The Baltimore Sun Highlights UMBC Honors College

The Baltimore Sun special section on education recently featured UMBC’s Honors College in an article on the rich educational experiences honors programs provide. The article discusses requirements and opportunities for Honors College students, and describes UMBC’s program as “respected and known for producing well-rounded intellectuals.”

Simon Stacey, director of the Honors College, comments, “interdisciplinary, highly collaborative and discussion based classes” allow Honors College students to study, in greater depth, topics that interest them.

This article is not yet available online.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, to Direct Creativity Seminar at Austen Riggs Center

Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz is leading the 2014 Austen Riggs Center Creativity Seminar, which will be held from August 1-2. Spitz is the author of six books and brings psychological perspectives to bear on the arts and on children’s aesthetic lives.

Creativity Seminar photo

2014 Austen Riggs Center Creativity Seminar photo from Ellen Handler Spitz

The conference has the theme of “Translation,” and organizers have posted the following description on the conference website: “we will learn about the process of translation in different areas of creative endeavor in the visual medium of photography, through the embodied work of translation by an orchestral conductor, via the interpretative work of translation by a psychoanalyst, and by means of the multilayered acts of translation in theater.  Our aim is to understand more deeply the subjective and objective nature of interpretation and translation and to stimulate our use of these ideas in our various clinical, educational, and other settings.” To learn more, click here.

Spitz also published an article in the June 2014 issue of “The Brooklyn Rail,” devoted to art and the unconscious. In her piece titled, “Kris-Crossing,” Spitz explores the unconscious, writing about Ernst Kris, a psychoanalytic art writer, and a personal experience she had in the presence of Barbara Chase-Riboud’s 2008 sculpture, “All That Rises Must Converge / Red,” shown with her series, “The Malcolm X Steles.” To read the full article, click here.

Jodi Kelber-Kaye, Honors College, on The Marc Steiner Show

Jodi Kelber-Kaye, associate director of the Honors College, joined The Marc Steiner Show on May 30 to celebrate the 163rd anniversary of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech.

Kelber-Kaye spoke about teaching about the intersections of race and gender in the history of women’s rights advocacy, saying, “This is an incredibly interesting conversation that I actually have always had with my students. One of the things that’s really nice about UMBC is that we have an extraordinarily diverse population. So my classrooms have always been filled with people from all over the world and different races who have wanted to have conversations about this word ‘feminism.'”

Other panelists included Lea Gilmore, cultural correspondent for the Center for Emerging Media, dream hampton, co-author of Decoded, and A. Adar Ayira, project manager of the More in the Middle Campaign for Associated Black Charities.

Click here to listen to the full segment titled, “Sojourner Truth’s ‘Ain’t I A Woman?': African American Women & Feminism.”

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, in The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Illuminating Childhood“Almost entirely absent from elementary school curriculums, rarely chosen as bedtime reading by parents, poetry — formerly a joyful accouterment of youth, an inexhaustible gift — seems forgotten. Yet poetry and children belong together. And who, among the great American poets, could be more appropriate for childhood than Emily Dickinson?” reads a book review written by Honors College Professor Ellen Handler Spitz published May 9 in The New York Times

In her article in the Sunday Book Review titled “That Amherst Belle,” Spitz reviews two new children’s books: Eileen Spinelli’s “Another Day as Emily,” illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, and Burleigh Mutén’s “Miss Emily,” illustrated by Matt Phelan. She notes the two books “strive to create, by very different means and with different results, a sense of the poet Emily Dickinson as a person.”

Spitz writes the two books do a good job of introducing readers to Dickinson’s “eccentric persona,” but an opportunity is lost because none of Dickinson’s poems is printed in full in either book.

Ellen Handler Spitz has written frequently about children’s literature for The New Republic and is author of “Illuminating Childhood.” To read the full book review in The New York Times, click here.