Caitlin Keller L&S Arts & Humanities
Media as a Mother: Representations of Queerness in Children's Media
While many know the wicked sea witch Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, few understand that she was based on the drag queen Divine. Ursula is only one of a myriad of representations of queerness in children’s media. My project explores the evolution of queer representation in children’s media and the role it plays in transforming mainstream cultural norms, working as a tool to socialize children. From the demonization of queer characteristics resulting in queer-coded villains to same-sex kisses on animated television shows of the 21st century, queer representation in children’s media has evolved significantly since the mid 1900s. By critically engaging with representations of queerness in children’s media, my research will uncover the mechanisms by which media can more inclusively portray the complexities of sexual orientation and gender identity. Positive and explicit depictions of queerness can normalize gender fluidity and same-sex attraction, leading to identity affirmation in children. My research will synthesize and analyze prior sporadic research, while considering the unique intersection between children’s media and representations of queerness.