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You Are What You Read

Seminar Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Reuben P. Bell

Associate Professor

The seminar will draw from resources in linguistics, neuroscience, sociology, and literature to consider future trends in human communication. Written language and reading over 4,000 years have helped form the human mind. Recent changes in information technology may have a profound effect on this acquired state, for better or for worse. In Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, child development expert Maryanne Wolf describes the global influence of reading on human cultural development. From the origins of written language in Sumeria to the universality of the written word in modern culture, she shows how not only reading itself, but what people read, becomes a neurological determinant of brain structure and function. The ramifications of this phenomenon will inspire the seminar: the effects of poverty and ideology on how children learn to read and subsequently view their world; the devastating effects of dyslexia on inculturation, and the potential for modern information technology to erode peoples’ ability to comprehend and appreciate nuances in the written word.


After earning a B.S. and M.S. in Zoology from the University of Tulsa, Reuben P. Bell graduated from Oklahoma University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1979. He completed a Family Practice residency at the Osteopathic Hospital of Maine in Portland, and is certified in Family Practice. In 1991 he left his practice in Fryeburg, Maine, to attend the Academy of the New Church Theological School in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. While there, he was Associate Professor of Biology at the Bryn Athyn College. After earning his M. Div. and being ordained in the Church of the New Jerusalem in 1997, he was actively involved in the ministry of the General Church of the New Jerusalem. In 2003 he became Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Director of Medical Humanities at UNECOM. He is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Science & Religion with the Graduate Theological Foundation, South Bend, Indiana, and Oxford University. His primary interests are in the history and philosophy of Osteopathy, and the study of Emanuel Swedenborg's science and metaphysics.

Assigned Reading

Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Harper Collins, 2007.


A reception will be held at 5pm at the UNE Art Gallery


Center for Global Humanities


(207) 221-4335

6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public