Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not Just for Kids! Dr. Seuss as Political Cartoonist

Though he is primarily known for books he published for children, Dr. Seuss also published for adult audiences. He drew over 400 political cartoons for the New York publication, PM between 1940 and 1948 and was the chief editorial cartoonist of that publication from 1941-1943.  The Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California at San Diego has an online collection of many of them entitled Dr. Seuss Went to War. 
**Note: These are wartime propaganda cartoons, and his depictions of the Japanese are very unflattering**

 His books for children often contain political ideas and themes, some more explicit than others.  The Lorax  explicitly promotes environmental awareness and conservation, "The Sneetches" clearly addresses issues of discrimination and anti-Semitism, and the tyrannical Yertle the Turtle was even depicted with a Hitler-esque mustache in early editions of the book, and Seuss himself stated:
'I couldn't draw Hitler as a turtle ... So I drew him as King ... of the Pond ... He wanted to be king as far as he could see. So he kept piling them up. He conquered Central Europe and France, and there it was.' ("Dr. Seuss at 75: Grinch, Cat in Hat, Wocket and Generations of Kids in His Pocket". The Washington Post May 21,1979,  qtd. in Wikipedia). 

There are many more examples of Seuss' use of political and social themes. Sarah Milroy's article "Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Subversion" (Globe and Mail November 22, 2003) provides a concise review of some of the major themes in his work.

His opposition to racism, environmental degradation and Cold War politics (see The Butter Battle Book) are admirable and his use of Freudian concepts of Id, Ego and Superego in the Cat in the Hat books is appealing and clever. However, critics have noted that his work is also marked by seeming lack of interest in women or girls.  Alison Lurie notes in her essay, "The Cabinet of Doctor Seuss", the "typical Seuss hero is a small boy or male animal; when girls appear, they play silent, secondary roles." Lurie also points out that when female characters are fleshed out, it is often in a negative context, such as the bird Mayzie, who traps Horton into sitting on her egg while she flies off to Palm Beach, and the greedy and vain Gertrude McFuzz, who eats so many magic berries to increase the size of her tail that she renders herself unable to walk (New York Review of Books, December 20, 1990 ).

If you're interested in finding out more about Seuss' writing and art from a cultural or educational perspective, you might enjoy one of the following articles. ***Username & password needed for home access.  See a friendly GBS Librarian for details.***

Ingalls, Zoe. "The Cat in the Hat, The Butter Battle Book, and other Soupcons of Seuss!" The Chronicle of Higher Education. 28 Jul 1993. Platinum Periodicals. ProQuest. Web. 25 Feb. 2010.

Juchartz, Larry R. "Team Teaching with Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein in the College Basic Reading   Classroom." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 47. 4 (Dec. 2003 - Jan. 2004): 336-341. JSTOR. Web. 25 Feb. 2010

Wolosky, Shira. "Democracy in America: By Dr. Seuss." Southwest Review 85.2 (2000): 167-183. Platinum Periodicals. Web.  25 Feb. 2010.

 Other interesting websites:

Art of Dr. Seuss

Advertising Artwork of Dr. Seuss

The Political Doctor Seuss (PBS Independent Lens)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seuss Week Cometh!

Seuss Week is coming to GBS!  Help the GBS Library & the Titan Learning Center celebrate literacy from March 2- March 5 by participating in the the events and Dress-Up-Days we have planned:

Tuesday: Crazy Socks Day for Fox in Sox

Wednesday: Green Day for Green Eggs and Ham

Thursday: Who Hair Day for Horton Hears a Who

Friday: Hat Day for Cat in the Hat

We will be having trivia and prizes throughout the week.

Friday, March 5 is also DEAR Day--Drop Everything And Read.  All of GBS will be taking 16 minutes out of our day to read for the fun of it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

LibGuides are here (sort of)

The GBS LibGuides are here (in a very embryonic sense of "here").

 I am not especially looking forward to the onerous task of migrating virtually the entire GBS Library Web Site to the LibGuides--but I am looking forward to introducing the class resources to students, as well as having the ability to reorganize our resources and modify the way we deliver information.  And I can work on them off-site. I love the tagging function & am looking forward to linking them to delicious & getting student feedback*.  Which should be very instructive, and hopefully won't require much moderation :)


*Unfortunately, this cannot take the form of a smiley scale.