Where the Wild Things Are

Committing Sociology

In the annals of childhood storytelling and imaginative play, one of my favorite books is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Despite being banned by most libraries and receiving universally negative reviews from critics when it was first published in 1963, the book quickly became and has remained one of the most popular and well-loved staples of children’s literature in North America. And like many kids who loved Max and the wild things, I’m sure that at least some of its popularity can be explained by how well it resonated with the imaginary places I constructed in childhood to escape the consequences of being banished to my dull room as punishment for some ill-advised behavior. Yet I’m also convinced, more recently, that the Wild Things and their world are indicative of a far more pervasive and omnipresent part of our culture—one which imagines the wild as a far-off, exotic…

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