Dr. Stevens on the 'Net

Blog posts highlighting the work of Dr. Victoria Stevens:

Impacting Educational Reform thru Social Change

The Creative Edge
Arts education takes center stage in this blog from Arts Orange County

State of Maine Arts Education

Serving Central California

The Importance of an Arts Enriched Education

Arts Integration
Get smART: Redesigning Education with the Arts in Mind

“Poetry, Byron said, ‘is the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earth-quake - they say that poets never or rarely go mad... but are generally so near it - that I cannot help thinking rhyme is so far useful in anticipating & preventing the disorder’. A highly formal and traditional work deepens immeasurably when one feels the primal murkiness threatening to swell up underneath geometric clarity, the verbal concision, and the ironic wit. The ancient demons are never far from shore... A highly rational art is especially haunting when one feels the struggle in the thought, or even underneath the thought; when one senses something dark welling up from below, from the primordial mud; when one recognizes the powerful internal pressure of a mind defending itself against itself.”

~Edward Hirsch, 2002


The American Journal of Play, Volume 7, Number 1, Fall 2014

To Think without Thinking

The Implications of Combinatory Play and the Creative Process for Neuroaesthetics

The author considers combinatory play as an intersection between creativity, play, and neuroaesthetics. She discusses combinatory play as vital to the creative process in art and science, particularly with regard to the incubation of new ideas. She reviews findings from current neurobiological research and outlines the way that the brain activates various regions when creative, combinatory play uses conscious and unconscious cognitive and emotional processes.


Chapter 15; Bion, Klein, and Freud. (Karnac, 2010)
When Theories Touch: A Historical and Theoretical Integration, Ellman, S. Karnac


Book Review: The Musical Playground – Global Tradition and Change in Children’s Songs and Games by Kathryn Marsh. Reviewed in American Journal of Play, Fall 2009

Contributing author and editor: A Reader’s Guide to Affect Regulation and Neurobiology, Eds., Allan Schore and Judith Schore (2008). New York: NY: Norton (in press)


Prosodic Elements in the Dyadic Interaction between Infant and Caregiver and Their Importance for the Development of Attachment and Affect Regulation: The Music of Language. Chapter 10 in Emotions in the Human Voice Volume 2: Clinical Evidence, Ed. Krzsytof Izdebski, (2008). San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing

Music and language are both fundamental means of human expression that have been found in all cultures in some form throughout recorded history. There are many theoretical speculations about the origins and functions of both music and language from fields as diverse as paleontology, cognitive neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, esthetics, biology, ethnomusicology, and developmental psychology. The area of research reviewed in this chapter concerns published work on how the function of music and language accounts for the particular way mothers, fathers, siblings, or/and other older adults speak and sing to infants between the time of their birth and when they approximately reach 2 years.


Quality, Equity, and Access: A Status Report on Arts Education in California Public Schools Grades Pre-K through 12 Briefing Paper for the California Alliance For Arts Education. Primary author with Suzanne Isken; Spring 2006

Briefing Paper prepared by California Alliance for Arts Education

Arts Education in public schools has been elevated to a national conversation in recent years. Education policymakers, researchers and practitioners alike, with overwhelming support from parents and community members, agree that the visual and performing arts are essential to every child’s education.

Indeed, a number of communities in California are engaged in the development of regional plans for arts education, and have committed substantial resources to the implementation of those plans—most notably Los Angeles Unified, San Francisco Unified, the Los Angeles County Arts for All initiative, Alameda County’s Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership, and Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley’s Creative Education Program in Santa Clara County. There has also been substantial research in recent years documenting the characteristics and key quality indicators that need to be present in order for school districts to sustain quality arts programs.

In spite of broad public support, strong existing policies and occasional positive developments, dwindling state education funding combined with a new emphasis on accountability have led—however inadvertently—to a narrowing of the curriculum and the exclusion of the arts for many students...


Nothingness, No-Thing and Nothing in the Work of Wilfred Bion and Samuel Beckett's Murphy. The Psychoanalytic Review. Vol. 92, No. 4. August, 2005, pp. 607-63

In 1967 a young woman, Sighle Kennedy, was working on her dissertation about the work of Samual Beckett. She wrote him a letter, asking him to evaluate the validity of her thesis. Beckett wrote a short note back that included the following sentence: "If I were in the unenviable position of having to study my work, my points of departure would be the 'Naught is more real...' and the 'Ubi nihil vales...' both already in Murphy and neither very rational."

The Art and Technique of Interpretation Reconsidered: The Cognitive Unconscious and the Embodied Mind, (2005). Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, Division 39 of the APA, vol. XXV, no.2, Spring 2005

The rapidly developing fields of interpersonal neurobiology with its grounding in attachment theory, affect regulation theory, developmental psychology and psychodynamic theory is creating a need to expand the understanding and operational definitions of certain commonly used therapeutic terms. At the same time, findings from other disciplines engaged in the study of the mind are also rethinking and redefining certain commonly held theoretical assumptions. These disciplines include cognitive science, philosophy, and linguistic theory - all of which are concerned with questions regarding the nature of the self, subjectivity, the mind and the brain. There are many points of intersection that are emerging from this interdisciplinary matrix of interpersonal developmental neurobiology, cognitive science, linguistic theory and psychodynamic therapeutic theory and technique. In this paper I am going to focus on one area of intersection - that of interpretation.

In their 1999 work Philosophy In the Flesh, cognitive scientists George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics and Mark Johnson, a professor of philosophy, state that there are three major findings from cognitive science that call for a questioning of the traditionally accepted understanding of reason within the Western philosophical tradition. These three findings are: "The mind is inherently embodied; thought is mostly unconscious; and abstract concepts are largely metaphorical" (p.3). The fundamental assumptions that these findings call into question are: we can know our own mind through introspection; most of our thinking about the world is literal; and that reason is disembodied and literal.


Reading the Language of the Right Brain: Fine-tuning the Analyst's Capacity for Creatively Attuned Empathic Resonance; Psychologist/Psychoanalyst; Division 39 of the APA, vol. XXIII, no. 4, Fall 2003, pp 10-12

The connection between empathic attunement on the part of a healer toward a subject has a long history spanning the shamanistic and mystical traditions of various cultures to psychoanalytic technique where it informs and undergirds many aspects of the analytic relationship including transference, projective identification, "holding", "containment" and "mutative interpretations".

This empathic attunement is generally discussed as an intermediate state of consciousness or a state of consciously active reverie in which the person opens themselves to sensory and emotional input from outside and inside of themselves, as well as to all information stored in implicit memory, and is able to allow whatever emerges from a given interaction from moment to moment to play in that intermediate space of imagination. This kind of marriage between an active discerning intellect and free-floating associative drifting combinatory play is also discussed as essential to mathematical, scientific and artistic creativity.


The Importance of Creative Thinking, Emotional Intelligence and the Arts for Education in the 21st Century. Paper prepared for the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), Santa Monica, CA

There is currently a great deal of discussion in the United States regarding the role of academic institutions in preparing students for success in the 21st century. One possible theoretical approach is presented, based on the author's own research, utilizing the following concepts: a theory of "creative thinking" derived from developmental neurobiology, cognitive science and psychoanalytic theory; the concept of "emotional intelligence" as presented recently by Daniel Goleman; Howard Gardner's theory of "multiple intelligences"; and arts education. This paper presents a theoretical foundation for the future intellectual, moral, emotional, social and business success and fulfillment of today's students through curricular and pedagogical educational reform.

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