Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Children's Literature and Philosophical Wondering

I have spent most of my professional life pursuing two different careers: as a children's book author and as a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. These didn't run on entirely parallel lines in that there were occasional points of intersection.

I've brought philosophical issues into some of my children's books, such as Standing Up to Mr. O where my protagonist takes a moral stand against dissecting animals in her seventh-grade biology class, and Dinah Forever, where Dinah is plunged into an existential crisis upon learning that the sun is going to burn out in a mere five billion years. I've brought children's literature into some of my philosophy classes: I start my Intro to Ethics course each year by reading the chapter from Stuart Little where Stuart is a substitute teacher interrogating his students on what is "important"; I close the semester by having my students write their final exam on the moral dilemma faced by Marty in Phyllis Naylor's Newbery-winning novel Shiloh.

In the past couple of years, the two careers have increasingly converged. As a visiting professor at DePauw I taught children's literature in the English department, for the first time in my professional life, as well as my usual repertoire of courses for Philosophy. There I also organized a symposium on Ethics and Children's Literature, with three keynote speakers: one a philosopher, one a children's lit scholar, and one a children's book author (my own three hats). I'm editing some of the papers from that symposium into a book forthcoming from Ashgate Press.

And this coming Friday, my own CU Philosophy Department is hosting a symposium in honor of my retirement, organized by my most kind and amazingly wonderful colleague, Prof. Mitzi Lee. The symposium is called "Children's Literature and Philosophical Wondering." It's going to be a moment of surpassing sweetness for me to have the two great loves that have structured my professional life brought together in this event attended by my colleagues and friends from the past twenty years.

If you're anywhere near Boulder, come! It's free and open to the public.

Children's Literature and Philosophical Wondering: A Symposium in honor of Claudia Mills
When    Fri, January 24, 3:00pm – 6:30pm
Where    UMC 245 
Children's Literature and Philosophical Wondering: A Symposium in honor of Claudia Mills, invited speakers Sara Goering (UWash. Seattle) and Jana Mohr Lone (U Wash. Seattle) Schedule: 3 Welcome and introduction 3:15-4 First talk: Prof. Sara Goering (University of Washington), “Philosophy for Children: Sparking the Love of Wisdom with Children’s Literature” 4-4:45 Second talk: Prof. Jana Mohr Lone (University of Washington), “Was the Ugly Duckling Ugly? Philosophical Tendencies in Children's Literature” 4:45-5:15 break/refreshments 5:15-6:30 Philosophy for children interactive session and discussion

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Claudia, on your wonderful career!