2018 Mann Lecture considers relationship between humans, wolves in literature

March 01, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Debra Mitts-Smith, author, professor and expert on children’s and young adult literature, will serve as the distinguished speaker for the 2018 Charles W. Mann Jr. Lecture in the Book Arts at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library on Penn State’s University Park campus. A reception following the lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library.

Mitts-Smith’s talk will focus on images of the wolf in children’s books published in Western Europe and North America from the 16th century to the present. She will address the values and attitudes that inform our depictions of the wolf, and how illustrations of wolves in children’s books impart social, cultural and scientific information not only about wolves, but also about humans and human behavior.

A professor of children’s and young adult literature at the University of Illinois, Mitts-Smith’s research focuses on visual culture, children’s literature, and the history of the book. She holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois and is a regular contributor to International Wolf, the magazine for the International Wolf Center. Her book “Picturing the Wolf in Children’s Literature” was published by Routledge in 2010.

"The Mann Lecture Series has been a special event for the Penn State University Libraries’ Special Collections Library for more than 15 years. The series centers on the book as historical artifact and its impact on humanistic inquiry,” said Athena Jackson, Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair for Special Collections. “From this year’s theme of wolves in children’s literature to such diverse past topics as dance, Shakespeare and graphic design, the book, as physical inspiration for readers of all backgrounds, remains a lasting format for discovery."

This year’s lecture is organized in conjunction with the exhibition “What Big Eyes You Have! Looking at the Wolf in Fairy Tales,” on display through Sunday, Aug. 26, in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library. The exhibition highlights early illustrated and moveable editions of fairy tales, especially those collected by Charles Perrault and the Grimm Brothers. The variety of books on display offer a trove of rich imagery for asking what the wolf symbolizes and for better understanding our complicated relationship with both imaginary and real wolves.

The Charles W. Mann Jr. Lecture in the Book Arts is named in honor of the first Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair for Special Collections in the University Libraries. This annual event featuring scholars with academic research areas connected to the materials held in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library is supported by the Mary Louise Krumrine Endowment.

The event is also available for livestream viewing on Mediasite Live. For additional information, or if attendees anticipate needing physical accommodations or have questions about access provided, contact LuAnn Shifter at 814-867-0290 or lus7@psu.edu in advance of the event.

  • Photo of Debra Mitts-Smith

    Debra Mitts-Smith, professor of children's and young adult literature at the University of Illinois, will deliver a talk titled "The Art of Being a Wolf."

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 06, 2018