Disney's women : changes in depictions of femininity in Walt Disney's animated feature films, 1937-1999
The animated films of Walt Disney have played an important role in American culture. Most Americans, either during childhood or adulthood, have been exposed to at least some of them. The films themselves have, in some respects, reflected American society and culture. They may also, at least to some extent, have influenced them. As academic scholarship on the history of Hollywood film has grown, various aspects of Disney's influence and cultural position have likewise come to be the focus of study. In recent decades, also, there has been a continually greater interest in the role of women in American society and how that role is constructed. Uniting both these scholarly interests, this thesis analyses how Disney films depict femininity, and the ways in which such depictions correspond with those in the larger arena of Hollywood film. To make these issues more comprehensible, it describes the beginnings of animated film in the United States, together with the early career and works of Walt Disney. In order to cast light on the manner in which such portrayals have changed over time, the films examined are analysed in relation to three particular time periods: 193 7-67, 1967-89, and 1989-99. By examining the depictions to be found within individual films, and comparing these depictions both with one another and with selected live-action, mainstream Hollywood films of the same eras, a better understanding of the make-up of the Disney films as a body of work is achieved, and a corrective offered to some of the misconceptions of Disney to be found within American society in general.