Kai Erikson speaks at Erikson Institute

Kai Erikson, Yale University professor of Sociology and American Studies, was guest of honor at the Erikson Institute’s dedication and first public display of two original manuscripts by his father, Erik Erikson 1902-1994 . The manuscripts, “Identity: Youth and Crisis” and “Young Man Luther,” gifts to the Institute from the elder Erikson in 1971, will remain on permanent view. The bulk of Erik Erikson’s papers, over 2,000 items, are stored at the Houghton Library at Harvard University.

In honor of the occasion, which coincided with the thirty-year anniversary of the founding of Erikson Institute in Chicago, Professor Kai Erikson delivered the Edith G. Neisser Memorial Lecture. It was his first visit to the Institute. His topic was “War and Ethnic Boundaries: the Destruction of Community in the Former Yugoslavia,” based on his research into the way ethnic hostilities emerge. Mr. Erikson has been studying the effects of disasters on human communities for the past 20 years.

Erikson Institute is a private graduate school and research center for advanced study in child development, affiliated with Loyola University Chicago. Established in 1966, Erikson is one of only four such institutions in the nation, and the only one in the Midwest that focuses solely on educating leaders in child development. The Institute is named for the German-American psychoanalyst whose theories on identity, identity crises, and psychosexual development bridged the gap between the introspective world of psychoanalysis and the social influences that bear upon the individual. The Erik Erikson taught at Yale from 1936-1939.

Kai Erikson joined the Yale faculty in 1966. He is author of numerous works, including “A New Species of Trouble: Explorations in Disaster, Trauma, and Community” Norton, 1994 and “The Nature of Work: Sociological Perspectives,” edited with Steven P. Vallas Yale University Press, 1990 . “Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance” John Wiley, 1966 won the American Sociological Association’s MacIver Award, and “Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood Simon & Schuster, 1976 won the association’s Sorokin Award. From 1979-89, Mr. Erikson edited The Yale Review. Under his editorship, contributers included Hortense Calisher, Seamus Heaney, Joyce Carol Oates, R. W. B. Lewis, and Adrienne Rich, among many others.

In May, 1996, Professor Erikson was awarded the Harwood F. Byrnes Richard B. Sewall Teaching Prize at Yale College. He was nominated for that honor by his students, and called “a dynamic undergraduate teacher, a caring and gracious master, a wise personal mentor,” and recognized “for the concern and respect he has long shown to others, and for the shining example of his own character,” in remarks made by Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead on the occasion.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325