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The late Jewish American artist Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) changed the face of children’s literature and paved the way for the reconsiderations of monstrosity and Otherness that pervade contemporary media, from Sesame Street to Stranger Things. His emotionally isolated, unruly, and ethnically particular protagonists use fantasy to resist social coercion and self-erasure.
In Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context (Stanford University Press, 2020), Golan Moskowitz investigates the evolution of Sendak’s artistic vision and its appeal for American, Jewish, and queer audiences. The present talk will offer a pointed discussion of Wild Visionary, illuminating how Sendak’s multiple perspectives as a gay, Holocaust-conscious, American-born son of Yiddish-speaking Polish immigrants informed his life and work. It will also explore how the artist’s work interacted dynamically with his cultural surroundings, offering insights into experiences of marginality and emotional resilience that remain relevant and visionary to this day.
Golan Moskowitz is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Catherine and Henry J. Gaisman Faculty Fellow at Tulane University, where he teaches courses on Jewish gender and sexuality, American pop culture, Holocaust studies, and comics and graphic novels. He is the author of Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context (Stanford University Press, 2020) and of several publications on intergenerational memory in post-Holocaust family narratives. Golan’s work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry.