Monday, November 28, 2005

Most people know Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) as the best-selling children's author of the 20th century. He wrote 48 children's books in 53 years, from "To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street" (1937) to "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" (1990). What most people do not know is that the work of Dr. Seuss was motivated by both national and world politics.

Dr. James Matthews of the Fairmont State Department of Language and Literature will shed light on the work of the beloved children's author in his presentation, "The Elephant and the Atom Bomb: The Political Awakening of Dr. Seuss," at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, in Room 128 of Hardway Hall.

Towards the end of the World War II and during its immediate aftermath, Geisel visited both Germany and Japan, witnessing firsthand the devastation caused by war and totalitarianism. These experiences changed the focus of his life's work, as he believed that educating children to think for themselves and to take joy in life would be the greatest defense against the misuse of social and political power. The first and most direct statement of those values appears in "Horton Hears a Who" (1954), which emphasizes the inherent value of all life and the moral obligation of the individual to take a stand.

Matthews holds a Ph.D. from Duquesne University in 19th century British literature and children's literature. His research interests include the use fantasy in historical and political context.

Fairmont State's Masquers and Town & Gown theatre are joining for a holiday presentation of "Seussical, the Musical," based on Geisel's stories.

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 1-3, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 8-10. A sign language interpreter will be present at the Dec. 2 show to assist the hearing impaired. All shows will be in Wallman Hall Theatre. For tickets, call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240.