Disney Curriculum: Call for Proposals

Jenny Sandlin and Julie Garlen Maudlin are co-editing a new book oriented to the study of Disney as an Educational, Cultural, and Social Curriculum. Sharing from a poster in Institute for Critical Animal Studies.

Call for Proposals

The Disney Curriculum: Education, Culture, and Society

Edited by
Jennifer A. Sandlin, Arizona State University
Julie Garlen Maudlin, Georgia Southern University

The purpose of this edited volume is to explore the Disney Corporation and the myriad ways its curricula and pedagogies manifest. Disney is a major multinational entertainment corporation, represented in almost every media platform (Wasko, 2001). Disney generates over $37.8 billion dollars per year through animated films, live-action films, theme parks, television stations, radio, publishing, licensed merchandise, schools, museums, sports, music, urban development, at least one community, and myriad other products and entertainment arenas—all while maintaining a corporate image of wholesome, innocent, nostalgic entertainment. These various products and experiences are consumed by hundreds of millions of people each year across the globe and have a significant impact on shaping individual and group cultural identity. Giroux and Pollock (2010) argue that Disney is a “teaching machine” that “exerts influence over consumers but also wages an aggressive campaign to peddle its political and cultural influence” (p. xiv). Disney is thus a kind of public pedagogy extraordinaire.

We envision Disney not only enacting a broad-reaching [corporate] public pedagogy (Savage, 2010), but also position it as part of a “big” curriculum (Schubert, 2006; see also Cremin, 1976 and Schubert, 1981) that permeates cultural discourse in myriad ways. This “big” curriculum of public and private spaces resides in both liminal and distant proximities to formal educational institutions such as schools (Stearns, Sandlin, & Burdick, 2011). As such, we argue that Disney, which is an increasingly salient part of individuals’ everyday life practices and identity formation—as well as a major cultural force that helps shape conceptions of family values, gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity, “Americanness”, childhood, pleasure, entertainment, education, and community—must be recognized as an influential element within the big curriculum. Schubert’s (2006) perspective on the big curriculum aligns with Pinar’s (2004) perspective on curriculum theory as an “interdisciplinary study of educational experience,” with curriculum broadly defined as the educational experiences gained both through and in spite of the structures of formal schooling. We posit that Disney constitutes and enacts just such a curriculum–both inside and outside of schools–that helps to shape the ways we think, learn, and live. In a recent volume on Disney, Giroux and Pollack (2010) encourage citizens to ask themselves, “How does the power of a corporation like Disney affect my life and shape my values as a citizen, consumer, parent, and individual?” (p. xv). While acknowledging Disney’s ubiquitous potential to craft social and cultural norms and influence identities, we also recognize our own investments in Disney as a source of entertainment and pleasure. That is, we posit that Disney can also provide “opportunities to venture beyond mundane, everyday experience while laying claim to unrealized dreams and hopes” (Giroux & Pollack, p. 7). Therefore, we do not seek only to criticize and/or deconstruct Disney products and perspectives but also to appreciate and understand the ways that the Disney corporation operates to influence education and popular culture in the United States and beyond.

We thus invite educational scholars to engage with the Disney curriculum in a variety of ways that may include critical works on Disney films and/or theme parks, how Disney has been taught and resisted in schools, critical activism focused on Disney, ways in which fans and consumers develop and negotiate their identities through and with their engagement with Disney, and how race, class, gender, sexuality, animality, and consumerism are constructed through and within the Disney megaverse. We seek diverse methodological approaches including but not limited to those that take up perspectives of political economy, ethnography, textual analyses, audience reception and interpretation analyses, and/or approaches that combine one or more of these perspectives. We also welcome theoretical perspectives to studying Disney that include but are not limited to socioeconomic, political, cultural, psychoanalytic, feminist, posthuman, and ludic postmodern approaches to Disney.

Prospective contributors should submit a one-page overview of their proposed chapter, including a brief abstract including a description of the chapter’s central argument, and a potential list of references.

Please send proposals by Monday, April 21, 2014 to: Jennifer Sandlin, jennifer.sandlin@asu.edu