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University of Iowa News Release


March 23, 2007

Queer Theorist, Author To Read April 3, Discuss K-12 Curriculum April 5

The public will have two opportunities to connect with author, professor and leading queer theorist Jonathan Silin, who will share different facets of his expertise and experiences during an upcoming visit to the community. He will read from his book "My Father's Keeper: The Story of a Gay Son and His Aging Parents" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live on the Internet at

Silin, who is a member of the graduate faculty at Bank Street College of Education in New York, will also discuss "What Can Be Said? Silence, Voice and Socially Relevant Curriculum" from 3 to 4:30 pm. Thursday, April 5 in Jones Commons, located on the third floor of North Lindquist Center. The University of Iowa College of Education Diversity Committee, the UI College of Education Department of Teaching and Learning and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies are sponsoring his lecture, which is free and open to the public. A discussion and reception will follow. 

The April 3 Prairie Lights reading, which is free, will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series originating on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910 and is co-sponsored by the UI Nonfiction Writing Program, The Nonfiction Writing Program in the Department of English is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on AM 910 WSUI in Iowa City, AM 640 WOI in Ames and AM 1010 KRNI in Cedar Falls. A program is also broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on 91.7 FM KSUI in Iowa City.

Silin wrote his memoir, "My Father's Keeper," as a man in midlife who learned to care for his elderly parents as a series of life-threatening illnesses forced them to make the difficult transition from being independent to being reliant on their son. The book chronicles the unexpected ways in which the ideas and skills Silin acquired as an early childhood educator, a specialist in life span development and a witness to the devastation of the HIV/AIDS crisis came together with his interest in human psychology to deeply inform his thinking about the dramatic changes in his family's life and increasingly influence his role as his father's and mother's keeper. The book was recently chosen as a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

During the Thursday lecture in the UI College of Education, which is also free and open to the public, Silin will discuss ethical and practical implications of taking the stance that students, from preschool through the highest levels of education, have an inalienable right to be heard no matter what their concerns.  He also will encourage teachers to become as adept at reading silences as at interpreting words, and as comfortable with stillness as with the busyness of the well-run classroom. 

"Children are aware from the time they are quite young that the world is complicated, exciting and sometimes frightening in ways that exceed their understanding," said Gail Boldt, a UI associate professor in elementary education. "Jonathan Silin's powerful and unsentimentally personal writing has helped educators around the world think about the importance of children's questions, their silences, their fears and hopes, and what can and should be represented in classrooms."  

Silin has published articles in the Harvard Education Review, Teachers College Record, Reading Research Quarterly and Educational Theory, as well as in periodicals such as Newsday, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Education Week.  He is also the author of "Sex, Death, and the Education of Children," coeditor of "Putting the Children First" and co-producer of "Children Talk About AIDS."

For more information or special accommodations to attend either the reading or the lecture, contact Boldt at or 319-335-5565.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Program: Gail Boldt, 319-335-5565,