Learning from Disney
Historical Studies, Arts and Literature
The word “Disney” refers to a man who died in 1966, a film studio that became a global media corporation, six amusement parks/resorts, an oeuvre of audio-visual texts with hundreds of characters and millions of associated products, and a theory of space and landscape design. The word also suggests a set of ideological messages about gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and nationhood. Recently, it has also been made into a verb. According to the Oxford English Dictionary “to disnify” means “to alter in a way considered characteristic of Disney films, cartoons, or theme parks; to romanticize, sanitize, or simplify.” And scholars now use the terms “disneyfication” or “disneyization” to describe the way that the principles of Disney theming have increasingly come to dominate economic sectors and place-making in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.
This course will focus on all things “Disney” to introduce students to the study of American history, Hollywood films as cultural representations, and the American built environment. Specific topics will include 1) Americanized fairy tales and theories of childhood, 2)the Hollywood Studio and forms of modern labor, 3) post WWII urban planning, suburbanization and white flight, 4) representations of race, gender, sexuality, and family, 5) theming, immersion and the experience economy, and 6) hyper-consumerism and branding.
- Spring 2022
- Fall 2020