Monday, December 7, 2009

Disney's Medievalisms

Call for Papers:
“Disney’s Medievalisms”

> From medieval fairs to modern films, the industries of popular culture
continually revisit and reinvent the Middle Ages, entertaining audiences while
generating a profit. And Disney’s--both Walt’s and the
Corporation’s—contribution to this field is virtually unparalleled. From its
many “medieval” films (Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, A Kid in King Arthur’s
Court) to its re-creations of fairy-tale romances (Cinderella,
Sleeping Beauty,
Beauty and the Beast, Enchanted), from its architecture of iconic
castles to its
renovation of outmoded identities (princesses, pirates), Disney’s multifaceted
medievalism is America’s most culturally visible monument to the
western Middle
Ages—a monument that, like all of Disney’s products, has been globally
disseminated. However, since Disney’s Middle Ages spans from his pre-Mickey
retellings of fairy tales, through the studio’s early princess films and into
“re-writings” of the company’s own traditions in more recent films, this
monument is itself continually under reconstruction. Our proposed essay
collection “Disney’s Medievalisms” will tackle this cultural legacy from a
variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including literary, cinematic,
architectural, and sociological. It will address such questions as: How do the
Middle Ages figure in Disney’s essentially American historical narrative? What
do Disney’s turns to medievalism reveal about twentieth- and
twenty-first-century cultural concerns, and why are the Middle Ages a
setting for modern’s children entertainment? How do the child and the medieval
intersect, and to what end?

Potential contributors should contact Susan Aronstein ( and
Tison Pugh ( with 200-word abstracts of their proposals by
May 1, 2010. Professor Aronstein is the author of Hollywood Knights: Arthurian
Cinema and the Politics of Nostalgia, and Professor Pugh is the author of
Queering Medieval Genres and the co-editor of two collections addressing
“medieval” cinema: Race, Class, and Gender in “Medieval” Cinema and
Queer Movie


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