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date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article shows that the works of Dr. Seuss, the most beloved bard of children's nonsense—and especially The Cat in the Hat (TCITH) (1957)—can be read within the context of the dramatic cultural changes which paved the way for and grew out of the rebellions of the 1960s. Seuss's anarchic nonsense fostered a sensibility conducive to the New Left ideal of participatory democracy. A carnivalesque setting is a locus of social formation that fosters an atmosphere within which controversial topics and utopian desires may be confronted. TCITH also awakens in its readers the possibility of seeing themselves in a profoundly new way, and this is achieved through exposure to existential dilemmas and enigmas typical of nonsense. Seuss's texts arguably bestowed political agency on that generation “most critical of the Vietnam War,” whose perhaps unwitting parents supplied them with Seuss texts in piles throughout their formative years.

Keywords: Dr. Seuss, Cat in Hat, carnivalesque setting, Vietnam War, anarchic nonsense, participatory democracy

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