Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Marian Meyers

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Bruner

Third Advisor

Dr. Carrie Packwood-Freeman

Abstract

This paper used the constant comparative method to examine the 12 animated features released by Disney between 2000 and 2010 for: (1) their representation of nonhuman animals (NHAs) and the portrayal of race, class, gender, and speciesism within this representation, (2) the ways they describe the relationship between humans and NHAs, and (3) whether they promote an animal rights perspective. Three major themes were identified: NHAs as stereotypes, family, and human/NHA dichotomy. Analysis of these themes revealed that Disney’s animated features promote speciesism and celebrate humanity’s superiority by justifying the subordination of NHAs to human agency. Furthermore, while Disney’s representation of NHAs remains largely anthropocentric, most of its animated features do not reflect the tenets of animal rights.

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