childhood

Seeing Beyond Amazing: Is Sesame Street really changing the way we understand autism?

by Sam Killian December 14, 2015

This is a guest post by Anne McGuire, author of the University of Michigan Press forthcoming title, War on Autism. Seeing Beyond Amazing: Is Sesame Street really changing the way we understand autism? The Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, made international headlines and lit up social media last month with the introduction of its newest Muppet character, Julia. With wispy orange hair and bright green eyes, Julia is, according to Sesame: “a preschool girl with autism who does things a little differently when playing with her friends.” Julia is more than a just another person in the neighbourhood, […]

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The World of Childhood

by Phillip Witteveen February 11, 2015

“For centuries, in Western civilization,” says Ellen Handler Spitz, “children were not really understood to have an inner life at all. Nobody paid attention really… childhood was seen as a preparatory stage of life for adulthood. Children were dressed as little adults—and what they produced when they were little was of no interest.” Spitz, the author of Illuminating Childhood, was recently featured on CBC Radio One to discuss this: the scientifically under-specified “inner life” of children: the locus of Spitz’ own research in aesthetics and psychology. Dr. Spitz’ work—and the whole radio hour—are really the same response to the puzzling nature of childhood. Psychologically, childhood is […]

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Ellen Handler Spitz to Speak on Translation

by Phillip Witteveen July 21, 2014

In the first two days of August, the Austen Riggs Center will be hosting its annual Creativity Seminar. This year, Ellen Handler Spitz will be directing the conference, holding court, and bringing her experience as an aesthetician and student of psychoanalysis to a re-evaluation of the nature of translation. “Translation,” is the conference’s theme, and what for two days the attendees will be tweaking and re-adjusting their shared concept of. As an engine of description describing itself, the conference released a soundbite, stating their intentions: “to stimulate our use of these ideas in our various clinical, educational, and other settings.” […]

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Ellen Handler Spitz Reviews Children’s Literature

by Phillip Witteveen May 15, 2014

“Almost entirely absent from elementary school curricula, rarely chosen as bedtime reading by parents, poetry—formerly a joyful accouterment of youth, an inexhaustible gift—seems forgotten,” writes Press author Ellen Handler Spitz in this week’s New York Times’ Sunday Book Review. “Yet poetry and children belong together.” Spitz’s review centers on two children’s books that “strive to create, by very different means and with different results, a sense of the poet Emily Dickinson as a person.” In this, and other published criticism, she returns to the relationship between aesthetics and psychology, especially in youth cultures. For Spitz, a scene in a painting […]

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For World Autism Awareness Day, Consider ‘The Accidental Teacher’

by Phillip Witteveen April 2, 2014

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in 68 American children fall on the Autism spectrum, a category of developmental brain disorders with a broad array of symptoms. These symptoms can include difficulty with social interaction, and a tendency toward repetitive behaviors; they vary in severity from person to person, and may be co-morbid other medical conditions.  Since the 1970s, April has been National Autism Awareness Month—a month to raise awareness about the disability, and celebrate the autistic community. At its simplest, it’s an invitation to start a talking, share stories, and counteract stigma. April 2 marks World […]

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