Presentation Title

The Present Uncanny in Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are

Presentation Type

Poster

Full Name of Faculty Mentor

Steven Hamelman, English

Major

English

Presentation Abstract

Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" is a children's story that evokes the uncanny in mature readers. In Freud's 1919 essay on the uncanny, he stated that "fiction presents more opportunities for creating uncanny sensations than are possible in real life", and that "the class which proceeds from repressed complexes is more irrefragable and remains as powerful in fiction as in real experience… so long as the setting is one of physical reality." Max, the story's main character, is a little boy causing mischief one evening and is sent to bed early by his mother for his rowdy behavior. The story follows Max to his room, where a forest seems to be growing in "physical reality." The reader tags along on Max's journey to the place where the wild things are, where Max meets fellow rowdy creatures he wishes to tame before deciding to return home. The reader is not told directly that Max's journey is a dream, which is what a typical adult reader would suspect to be the case. Max's mingling with the wild things is a symbol of an infantile wish fulfillment coming to life, a sign of uncanny experience. The creatures he meets and becomes the king of are oddly familiar, representatives of Max's double, and ought to have remained repressed. They emerge nonetheless and are the uncanny personified as beasts. Where the Wild Things Are returns us to a childlike conscious stage, where experience is not so easily differentiated from the dreadful uncanny.

Location

Poster Session 2

Start Date

13-4-2022 4:30 PM

End Date

13-4-2022 6:30 PM

Disciplines

English Language and Literature

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Apr 13th, 4:30 PM Apr 13th, 6:30 PM

The Present Uncanny in Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are

Poster Session 2

Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" is a children's story that evokes the uncanny in mature readers. In Freud's 1919 essay on the uncanny, he stated that "fiction presents more opportunities for creating uncanny sensations than are possible in real life", and that "the class which proceeds from repressed complexes is more irrefragable and remains as powerful in fiction as in real experience… so long as the setting is one of physical reality." Max, the story's main character, is a little boy causing mischief one evening and is sent to bed early by his mother for his rowdy behavior. The story follows Max to his room, where a forest seems to be growing in "physical reality." The reader tags along on Max's journey to the place where the wild things are, where Max meets fellow rowdy creatures he wishes to tame before deciding to return home. The reader is not told directly that Max's journey is a dream, which is what a typical adult reader would suspect to be the case. Max's mingling with the wild things is a symbol of an infantile wish fulfillment coming to life, a sign of uncanny experience. The creatures he meets and becomes the king of are oddly familiar, representatives of Max's double, and ought to have remained repressed. They emerge nonetheless and are the uncanny personified as beasts. Where the Wild Things Are returns us to a childlike conscious stage, where experience is not so easily differentiated from the dreadful uncanny.