The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation: From Snow White to WALL-E, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation

From Snow White to WALL-E, 2nd Edition

By David Whitley


196 pages

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In the second edition of The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation, David Whitley updates his 2008 book to reflect recent developments in Disney and Disney-Pixar animation such as the apocalyptic tale of earth's failed ecosystem, WALL-E. As Whitley has shown, and Disney's newest films continue to demonstrate, the messages animated films convey about the natural world are of crucial importance to their child viewers. Beginning with Snow White, Whitley examines a wide range of Disney's feature animations, in which images of wild nature are central to the narrative. He challenges the notion that the sentimentality of the Disney aesthetic, an oft-criticized aspect of such films as Bambi, The Jungle Book, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, and Finding Nemo, necessarily prevents audiences from developing a critical awareness of contested environmental issues. On the contrary, even as the films communicate the central ideologies of the times in which they were produced, they also express the ambiguities and tensions that underlie these dominant values. In distinguishing among the effects produced by each film and revealing the diverse ways in which images of nature are mediated, Whitley urges us towards a more complex interpretation of the classic Disney canon and makes an important contribution to our understanding of the role popular art plays in shaping the emotions and ideas that are central to contemporary experience.


'In this welcome new and expanded edition of his 2008 book, David Whitley makes a major contribution not only to Disney studies but to film/media studies and to studies of environmental representation. Packed with persuasive close readings, well-researched, and engagingly written, his book offers fresh perspectives on the Disney canon and its place in popular and academic culture.' Kenneth Kidd, University of Florida 'Whitley carefully and expertly preserves both the inherent wildness and the human sentiment in his attempt to demonstrate how Disney’s animated features function to educate mostly young audiences on salient environmental issues… In looking at wilderness, [Whitley] locates the idea of conservation of the idyllic realm of nature, endangered by the human, in Bambi, and demonstrates how films like Pocahontas contest value systems of power and beauty… Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' Choice

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: wild sentiment: the theme of nature in Disney animation; Part 1 Fairy Tale Adaptations: Domesticating nature: Snow White and fairy tale adaptation; Healing the rift: human and animal nature in The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Part 2 The North American Wilderness: Bambi and the idea of conservation; Wilderness and power: conflicts and contested values from Pocahontas to Brother Bear. Part 3 Tropical Environments: The Jungle Book: nature and the politics of identity; Tropical discourse: unstable ecologies in Tarzan, The Lion King and Finding Nemo. Part 4 New Developments: WALL¢E: nostalgia and the apocalypse of trash; Conclusion: new directions?; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

David Whitley is Lecturer in English in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK.

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

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