Mary Poppins : Radical Elevation in the 1960s book cover
1st Edition

Mary Poppins
Radical Elevation in the 1960s

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 12, 2022
ISBN 9781138586406
December 12, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
160 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume examines Mary Poppins as a 1960s film reflecting and invested in its radically changing times, a largely but not unmitigatedly antiestablishment musical resonant with conditions and issues powerfully affecting baby boomers.


Among the explosion of baby boomer films that rocked the 1960s, the most stirring early work was likely Mary Poppins. This 1964 film captivated young audiences, earning top-grossing ticket sales, multiple Oscars, and landmark status as a cultural phenomenon. The book illuminates Poppins as a musical teeming with preoccupations of American youth in the early-mid 1960s, including antiestablishment desires, anxieties, and pleasures. Reading against the dominant grain, this book deciphers Poppins as a midcentury reflection that spans the generation gap, dysfunctional nuclear family, youth unrest, activism including feminist advocacy, counterculturalism, capitalist imperialism, race relations, socially conscious music, and hallucinogenic consciousness expansion. Conjunctively, the book explores tensions inherent in this studio production as a mainstream Disney release evoking imperatives of 1960s American youth while sanitizing figures and values representing radical change. Further, examining the film’s collective authorship, this volume traces Poppins’ origins in the writings and life of nonconformist author P.L. Travers as well as in Disney cinema and the studio’s adaptation processes. Analysis extends to diverse facets of Poppins’ reception, including the shifting image of its star, Julie Andrews, the film’s influence on popular culture and controversy among some as an adaptation, its appropriation by drug culture, association with the teenpic, and status as cinema of social consciousness.


This book is ideal for students, researchers and scholars of cinema studies and youth culture. 

Table of Contents

1. Step in Time: Poppins and the 1960s  2. Mary’s Generation: P.L. Travers, Unorthodoxy, and the Character of Modernity  3. Disney’s Investment  4 Mary Poppins Part I Summoned: Poppins and the Imperatives of Youth  5. Mary Poppins Part II Altered States  6 Reception: Changes in the Wind  Coda Poppins Redux

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Leslie H. Abramson is a Visiting Scholar at the American Bar Foundation. Abramson, a film scholar, is the author of Hitchcock and the Anxiety of Authorship as well as book chapters and journal essays on cinema in the 1960s, law and film, and Hitchcock. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.