The Freud Museum

Events Archive

22 March 2011

Talk: Illuminating Childhood

Ellen Handler Spitz with Andrea Sabbadini

Writer, lecturer and scholar Ellen Handler Spitz, joins us to discuss her latest book, Illuminating Childhood: Portraits in Fiction, Film, and Drama, introduced by Andrea Sabbadini.

People read novels, attend movies, watch television, and go to the theater not solely to be entertained but also to learn about one another and about themselves. Illuminating Childhood examines this quest for psychological knowledge in the domain of the arts.

Starting with the premise that a gifted writer, artist, or filmmaker has the ability to teach us as much in one scene as a theorist can in a treatise or a therapist in a session, the author shares her intimate experience of eight thematically linked works in film and literature from the second half of the 20th century, touching on issues central to parent-child relations, including toxic intrafamilial secrets, the disjunction between love and understanding, and the lasting impact of deceased parents on their children.

While most books and articles about children and parent-child relations identify problems, propose solutions, and present statistical data, Illuminating Childhood offers a living out of experience via the arts, written for a general audience—parents, teachers, mental health professionals, those who engage with their students via the arts of literature and film, and others.

Ellen Handler Spitz currently holds the Honors College Professorship of Visual Arts at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she has taught interdisciplinary seminars in aesthetics, literature, psychology, and the visual arts since 2001.

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