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CFP: Disney's Nature Films

An author is sought for an essay on Walt Disney Studios’ nature films that were made outside of the True-Life Adventures series. The essay will complete an edited volume with the working title Beyond the Mouse: Disney's Edutainment Films, which is under contract with McFarland.  Separate essays on the True-Life Adventures series and “earth” are already included in the volume.  The essay should go beyond factual descriptions of the films’ production history and reception, addressing larger issues such as their narrative strategies, intended audiences, and messages (both implicit and explicit) about the natural world.  It should be free from jargon, written in a straightforward style, and accessible to non-academic readers.

Outside of the True-Life Adventure series, Walt Disney studios produced a variety of nature documentary films.  These ranged from the narrator-less Grand Canyon (1957) to animal-centered films such as Perri (1957; the only “True-Life Fantasy”), Flash the Teen-Age Otter (1961) The Yellowstone Cubs (1962), and A Country Coyote Goes to Hollywood (1965), and animation-live action hybrids such as Man, Mysteries, and Monsters (1967) and It’s Tough to be a Bird (1970) The essay should provide readers with a solid overview of the individual films, while addressing issues raised by the films as a group, and commenting on their connection to the unifying theme of the volume: Disney’s intertwined impulses to educate and entertain.

The essay should discuss:

The films’ use of anthropromorphization, particularly in depictions of the relationships between adults and young

The films’ handling of “sensitive” subjects such as mating, birth, and hunting

How, and in what ways, the films characterize their animal “heroes”

The ways in which the films reflect or depart from the patterns of the True-Life Adventures (or, from Disney nature and animal stories that are purely dramatic)


The essay should be in the 3000-4000-word range, and is due by 1 April 2010. Please send an abstract and a note about your qualifications by 25 February 2010, to:

A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Social and International Studies Department
Southern Polytechnic State University
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