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Dr. Seuss Analyzed for Political, Social Effects

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From there to here, from here to there, researchers find that Dr. Seuss is — in political, social, psychological and even business terms — everywhere.

An interesting article on the multi-generational appeal of Dr. Seuss.

Kerry Mallan of Australia’s Queensland University of Technology points to the poetic meter Dr. Seuss usually utilized, the name of which — anapaestic tetrameter — sounds like one of his imaginary creatures. This meter, also used by Lord Byron, “has the accented syllable following two unaccented ones,” Mallan noted. “This creates a wonderful galloping rhythm, which is perfect for humor.”

In an insightful 1995 analysis in the journal Children’s Literature, Tim Wolf of Middle Tennessee State University points out a recurring theme in his books: the desperate need “to win the approval of a rejecting parent.” On the first page of Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, 1937′s And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, a father sternly tells his son: “Stop telling such outlandish tales. Stop turning minnows into whales.”

Even if its ecological assumptions are shaky, The Lorax “can be used in management education to highlight particular ethical issues,” according to a 2000 article in journal Business Ethics: A European Review. Michelle Greenwood argues that “a number of core ethical issues are addressed with great clarity in both the text and illustrations of this story.” For example, she notes disapprovingly that the Once-ler “did not attempt to establish any relationships or contract with the local inhabitants in any of the potential roles they could have held (e.g., employees, customers or suppliers).” If only he had earned an MBA, he might still be manufacturing Thneeds today.

Similarly, in a 2005 essay in the Journal of Management Education, Debra Comer and Robert Holbrook argue that many Dr. Seuss books “contain wonderful illustrations of management and organizational behavior concepts that transcend the basic message of the text.” These books “emphasize universal principles of individual, interpersonal, intragroup and intergroup behavior, thereby collectively providing an excellent repository of illustrations of management concepts.” With all that knowledge, it’s a good bet Sam-I-Am grew up to become a CEO.