1st Edition

Toy Story and the Inner World of the Child Animation, Play, and Creative Life

By Karen Cross Copyright 2023
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    Toy Story and the Inner World of the Child offers the first comprehensive analysis of the role of toys and play within the development of film and animation.

    The author takes the reader on a journey through the complex interweaving of the animation industry with inner world processes, beginning with the early history of film. Karen Cross explores digital meditations through an in-depth analysis of the Pixar Studios and the making of the Toy Story franchise. The book shows how the Toy Story functions as an outlet for exploring fears and anxieties relating to new technologies and industrial processes and the value of taking a psycho-cultural approach to recent controversies surrounding the film industry, particularly its cultural and sexual politics.

    The book is key reading for film and animation scholars as well as those who are interested in applications of psychoanalysis to popular culture and children's media.


    Series Preface

    Caroline Bainbridge and Candida Yates




    Animation and the inner world


    ‘Laser envy’ and the myth of technological omnipotence


    Fear, guilt and defence against loss


    Adolescent control and preserving toy stories


    Feminine playscapes: transgression of form and control of space


    Voice and inclusion in newly mobilised states



    Karen Cross, PhD, is a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton, UK. She has published widely on the topic of digital visual culture and its impacts on society. She is a Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council and the Founder of Healing Media.

    "Karen Cross' excellent book provides an essential intervention into the currently underexplored intersection between play and animation. Adding to the body of work on the Toy Story franchise, this is indispensable reading for those interested in animation studies, critical theory, play and children’s culture. Cross takes the innovative approach of combining psychoanalytic thought with critical theory resulting in a fascinating exploration of how play shapes our childhoods and ongoing lives, as represented onscreen." - Dr Caroline Ruddell, Reader in Film and Television, Brunel University London

    "In a long overdue interrogation of the relationship between the ‘Toy Story’ franchise, and the toys, children and psycho-cultural life it embodies, Cross offers an insightful critique that moves play beyond the pleasure principle into the realms of fear, anxiety, and loss. Simultaneously, Cross re-reads digital culture through a lens privileging unconscious phantasy in animation - and its production contexts - offering a complex and challenging analysis that revises the status of play, gender politics and technological progress. This is Woody and Buzz re-thought, rendered less as nostalgic playthings, and more as figures at the centre of the perpetual negotiations of human endeavour and doubt." - Paul Wells, Professor of Animation and Director of the Animation Academy at Loughborough University, UK