Sample Paper Abstracts

Scott Schaffer, "Disney and the Imagineering of Histories"

ABSTRACT: Starting with the implicit assumption that the products of the mass media play an important part in the everyday consciousness of the people who consume these products, this paper argues that the animated films and the theme parks created by the Walt Disney Company establish what I call a "boundary maintenance mechanism" in its American consumers. By engaging in a textual analysis of three of Disney's animated films (The Three Caballeros, The Jungle Book, and Aladdin), as well as a textual analysis that draws on ethnographic fieldwork done while I was employed at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, I utilize the writings of Fanon on "black consciousness" to argue that the inscription of American political and cultural imperial discourses into stories derived from local colonial situations serves as a way of thinking as a "white American." That is, Disney's products provide, through the development of their culture of consumption and at the level of the political unconscious, a consciousness of how their consumers *should* perceive themselves as proper "Americans" according to their place in the world. The boundary produced by this political unconscious is coterminous with the expansion of American cultural, political, and economic power. Continued consumption, guaranteed by the veritable wealth of local stories as well as the continual recycling of older animated films, ensures the stability of this political unconscious. -SS


Tolmie, Jane. “Goading, Ritual Discord and the Deflection of Blame.”  Journal of Historical Pragmatics 4.2  (2003): 287-301.


This article brings some of the discourses of contemporary frame analysis to bear on female incitement — often called goading or whetting (from hvetja ‘to whet’) — in feud structures within several well-known medieval Icelandic family sagas. Broadly speaking, female goading in saga literature is a form of dialogic exchange in which women urge men to perform particular tasks, often seemingly against their will. These tasks mainly revolve around blood-vengeance and legal action, the twin obsessions of saga literature; in neither area is it simple for saga women to participate officially or directly. The article’s approach is similar to Marcel Bax’s (2000) approach to moments of ritual discord in sixteenth-century Dutch plays in that it considers specific historical framing practices as forms of ritual language.