Since its gates opened more than fifty years ago, Disneyland has held a near-mythic place in the cultural imagination of the United States. Some revere it as "The Happiest Place on Earth," a magical vacation kingdom of wholesome family entertainment. Others despise it as a cathedral of fakery and commercialism, the ultimate shrine to the postmodern demise of "the real." Disney theme parks, with their innovative approaches to visual storytelling, environmental "theming," and experience design, have had impact far beyond their boundaries; they have changed the physical and psychic landscape of American consumer culture. We will examine the Disney parks from several vantage points, focusing on individual themed "lands" within them to address broader fields of historical representation--among them the depiction of the American Frontier, colonialist Adventure, childhood Fantasy, and utopian Tomorrow. Course readings will be interdisciplinary, and the course will include a fieldtrip to the Henry Ford/Greenfield Village in Detroit. One other field trip, to another site, is planned. Enrollment by Instructor permission only.
Estimated cost of materials: $100 or more. D.4