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Dr. Seuss, American Icon: The Legacy of Theodor Seuss Geisel

Evening Program with Light Reception

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1W0049
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
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It’s truer than true that a book that is new means it’s time to applaud Dr. Seuss!

The late-July publication of the recently rediscovered What Pet Should I Get? provides the perfect opportunity to look at the life and work of writer and illustrator Theodor Geisel, who as the beloved Dr. Seuss taught generations of children to read—as well as to think.

Seuss scholar Philip Nel examines how and why his books became an essential part of growing up. He delves into the energetic cartoon surrealism of his illustrations and the swingy rhyme that keeps young readers hooked on his verse. Galvanized by the propaganda work Geisel did during World War II, some of his books have a politically activist slant, and Nel looks at how Dr. Seuss took on issues including racism (The Sneetches), environmentalism (The Lorax), and nuclear proliferation (The Butter Battle Book).

Get insights into the man behind the art as Nel covers Geisel’s German-American childhood in Massachusetts, his war years and postwar life in California, and his two marriages. Nel connects Geisel’s longtime career in advertising (his “Quick Henry, the Flit!” ad campaign for a bug spray gave rise to a national catchphrase) to the rigor with which he controlled the merchandising of his characters. Learn, too, of Geisel’s lasting legacy as an author and artist—from his characters serving as political shorthand in editorial cartoons to his influence on hip-hop lyrics. 

Nel is a scholar of children's literature and university distinguished professor of English at Kansas State University. He is the author of Dr. Seuss: American Icon and The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats.

Enjoy a light reception after the program featuring Seuss-inspired green eggs and ham.

Other Connections

As an advertising illustrator, Theodor Geisel brought his distinctive style to promotions for products that included sugar, beer, gasoline, and shaving cream. See a gallery of his pre-fame work here.