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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay argues that the Disney Company is one of today’s main purveyors of medievalism. The idea of Disney as a force for medievalism may strike some academic readers as odd, given the still common view of medievalism as a primarily academic phenomenon. Rather, as argued in the first part of this essay, medievalism is a widespread cultural phenomenon, originating in the sixteenth century, out of which academic medievalism emerged in the eighteenth century. As part of this broader cultural medievalism, the Disney Company has played an increasingly important role in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Rather than the literalist historical medievalism that usually preoccupies academics, the Disney Company has followed a looser approach centered on key stereotypes, in keeping with the earliest and most pervasive concept of the Middle Ages from the sixteenth century onward. In all its medievalist products, ranging from early animated films to Fantasyland’s iconic monument the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disney has made music a primary concern.

Keywords: Disney, merchandising, capitalism, orientalism, parody, pastoral, primitivism, supernatural, chivalric

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