Ellen Handler Spitz

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 […]

Read more

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.” […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

As Denzel Washington opens ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ on Broadway, Ellen Handler Spitz’ ‘Illuminating Childhood’ explores the play’s significance

by Shaun Manning March 6, 2014

“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,” Ellen Handler Spitz writes in Illuminating Childhood: Portraits in Film, Fiction, and Drama, opening an entire chapter devoted to the play. “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.” The latest revival of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon and starring Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, begins […]

Read more

‘Illuminating Childhood’ author Ellen Handler Spitz on air: books are “cultural nutrition”

by Shaun Manning December 20, 2012

Ellen Handler Spitz, author of Illuminating Childhood: Portraits in Fiction, Film, and Drama, appeared on the Marc Steiner Show to discuss the importance of good books for young readers and what to look for when choosing a book to fill kids’ stockings. Dr. Spitz and two other guests spoke about the evolution of books created for children, as authors are now tackling broader, and often more complex, subject matter, including biographies of jazz musicians and a history of the Macy’s parades. But Dr. Spitz cautioned that, while there is now an abundance of reading material available, not all of it […]

Read more