|| The Bronowski Art&Science Forum
Presents: Seth Lerer, Dean of Arts and Humanities, Distinguished Professor of Literature. UCSD
“Literacy and the Child’s Imagination “
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wine Reception: 6:30 PM, Hosted by Travis Burleson - Burleson Pacific
Seth Lerer Presentation: 7:00 PM
The Auditorium, The Burnham Institute of Medical Research. (Directions below)
How do children learn to read and write? How does the study of children’s literature throughout history help us understand the making of the child’s literate imagination? These are the questions I address in my research, teaching, and lecturing. The history of children’s literature is filled with scenes of reading and writing. Childhood goes on in school as much as in the home or playground. My lecture will address the ways in which childhood (especially in the West) has centered on instruction in the arts of reading: understanding the book as a world, but also understanding the world as a book. From Greek antiquity on, children have shaped their lives in letters. But they have also shaped their imaginations in spite of all instruction. Much modern children’s literature, therefore, celebrates the creative, at times subversive child, finding a space for individual imagination in the structured world of family, school, and society. In the spirit of Professor Bronowski’s work, I therefore look at the tensions between the creative imagination to be original, and the social pressures to conform. In the end, children’s literature shows the many paths between these two poles of experience, and it shows us – as parents, teachers, and adults – how to recapture something of our own childhood creativity.
Seth Lerer is the Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at UCSD. Before joining the UCSD faculty in 2009, he was the Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Stanford. Lerer was born in Brooklyn, NY, and educated at Wesleyan, Oxford, and the University of Chicago. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Chaucer and His Readers, Error and the Academic Self, Inventing English, and Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter. In addition to these books, Lerer has published many articles and reviews in the fields of medieval literature and the history of scholarship. But he is perhaps best known for his public lectures on language and culture and his Teaching Company lecture series, The History of the English Language. Throughout his scholarship and teaching, Lerer focuses on the ways in which we see the world through language, and how reading, schooling, and political debate foster a literate imagination. The making of that literate imagination is the theme of his Children’s Literature, which won the National Book Critics Award in Criticism in for 2008. In addition to pursuing his current duties as Dean, Lerer hopes to teach a course on the History of the English Language in the spring of 2010 and to teach in the Revelle College Humanities Program in the near future.
(Copyright 2009 The Bronowski Art & Science Forum)
Directions to The Burnham Institute for Medical Research Auditorium
Address: 10905 Road To The Cure, La Jolla, 92037
On Torrey Pines Mesa - near The Torrey Pines Golf Course
From N. Torrey Pines Road at the signal (across for the Hilton) , turn East onto
Science Park Road. Proceed East ~ 1/4 mile down to Torreyana Road.
Turn Left (North) for ~ 100 yards. Turn Right (East) on to Road To The Cure and proceed ~ 50 yards. The Auditorium and parking is to your left.