The movie opens in theaters November 22 and stars Oscar winner Tom Hanks as the beloved longtime host of the educational children’s TV program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Klarén, an assistant professor with expertise in business communication and law and ethics, is the author of the new book On Becoming Neighbors: The Communication Ethics of Fred Rogers.
The University of Pittsburgh Press, publisher of Klarén’s book, says it “explores the nuanced complexity of the thought behind the man and the program … and the intentional ethic of care behind the creation of a program that spoke to the affective, cultural, and educational needs of children (and adults) during a period of cultural and political upheaval.”
Klarén is a lifelong fan of the Rogers program. While a graduate student in Pittsburgh, where the show was produced, she wrote her doctoral dissertation on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In 2017, her study “Becoming Dialogical: An Inquiry into the Communication Ethics Origins of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” received the top-paper award in the communications ethics division at the 103rd annual convention of the National Communication Association.
She says of her research findings: “My analysis of the show in part explains the uniqueness of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood not as a child’s entertainment program for passing the time but as a relational, dialogical, and pedagogical visit with a caring adult who encourages the child viewer to think about the world and reflect on her role in it. I show how the program fulfilled a need for deep, critical, relational encounters of learning rather than serving, as other programming for children did, as a distraction from the world and self.”
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