So Long, Cursive!—An Obermann Conversation

This event is part of the Obermann Conversations Program: So Long, Cursive!.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Event Location: 
Iowa City Public Library
123 S. Linn Street
Iowa City, IA 52240

For generations, cursive was a mainstay of K-12 education. An evolution of Roman and medieval scripts, these looping, conjoining lines meant that we could read grandma's recipe for turkey gravy, decipher a teacher's margin notes, and possibly even forge a parent's note for a sick day from school. But now, many schools are doing away with cursive instruction, arguing that keyboarding is the only real necessary skill for communication.

Supporters argue that hand-to-paper writing affects different parts of the brain, helping us to learn in a deeper way than via computer. Cursive is also a fine-motor skill, and it helps with learning to read. On a cultural and historical level, handwritten notes hold the physicality of their authors. We keep letters written by hand in a way that we often don't save emails.

Does it matter that cursive may be on its last legs? Is there more to this than sentimentality? We'll hear from a calligrapher-artist who now teaches young people who have never known cursive how to write in ancient hands, a historian-researcher of handwriting, and a poet-teacher who writes entirely in longhand. 

Poet Lisa Roberts is Assistant Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project.

Shawn Datchuk studies writing and handwriting and is an assistant professor in the areas of Teaching and Learning and Special Education in the UI College of Education.

Cheryl Jacobsen is a calligrapher, artist, and instructor at the UI Center for the Book.