Scribner Seminar Program
Instructor(s): Greg Pfitzer, American Studies
In what ways have Walt Disney and the Disney Imagineers influenced the historical sensibilities of Americans? How accurate have Disney's historical presentations been with respect to portrayals of race, class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality in American history? Have Disney productions encouraged Americans to be "nostalgic for a fabricated past," and, if so, what are the costs of such "imagined" histories? Examining animated and live-action films (Song of the South, Johnny Tremain, Pocahontas) as well as theme park exhibits (Frontierland, The Hall of the Presidents, The World of Tomorrow) and museums (The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum), students will seek answers to questions about the legitimacy and cultural impact of the historical narratives produced by Disney and his storytellers. The course culminates with a study of "Disney's America," a proposed 3,000-acre historical theme park in Virginia advertised by promoters as "serious fun" but disparaged by detractors as an example of "Mickey Mouse history."