Monday, May 23, 2011

Alice Nuttall on Pocahontas

Last Monday Alice discussed the depiction of Native Americans in a film for children which touts an overt anti-racist message: Disney's Pocahontas (1995). Despite the direct engagement with issues of race, racism, and cross-cultural interaction in Pocahontas—which Alice reads as in part an apology for previous Disney characters such as Tiger Lily in the 1953 Peter Pan—the film holds some problematic subtexts beneath its worthy surface message of tolerance and anti-colonialism. Elements of the production, such as Pocahontas' signature costume (a skimpy buckskin mini-dress) and the division between 'good Indians' (those who assimilate to European culture) and 'bad Indians' (those who fight it), make free use of prevalent stereotypes of Native American culture. When the important character Grandmother Willow, a spirit guide, encourages Pocahontas to learn English, the film even seems to tacitly suggest divine approval of colonialism. Alice also discussed 'Savages', the controversial song which appeared toward the end of the original version of the film (it was cut upon video release). The song depicts Native and European parties calling each other savages, ostensibly to show that both sides hold erroneous conceptions about race, and can be violent and hate-filled. However, racist slurs incorporated in the song were on occasion used to taunt Native children after the film's release—despite the diegetic emphasis on the wrongheadedness of such language and behaviour.

CLYCC wishes Alice all the best for her upcoming field research.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trinity Term 2011 Programme

An exciting programme for the new term! Events held in Room 11 of the English Fac at 5.15pm as usual (directions if you need them...).
Looking forward to seeing both familiar and unfamiliar faces!

May 16th (Week 3): Problems with Pocahontas. Alice Nuttall, Oxford Brookes University
Alice, a doctoral student at Brookes who works on the portrayal of American Indians in children’s literature and culture, returns to CLYCC with a presentation on Disney’s thirty-third animated feature, the immensely popular Pocahontas (1995). Alice will examine problems with the portrayal of race and gender issues in the film, and ask whether it is successful as an anti-racist work.

May 30th (Week 5): Teaching Children’s Literature for Paper Eight. Dr Diane Purkiss, CUF Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow, Keble College
This Centrally Taught Special Topics (CTST) introductory lecture, held in conjunction with CLYCC, concerns the new stream of children’s literature-oriented Paper Eight seminars and classes which will be run through the English Faculty from next year. Dr Diane Purkiss, who will teach the 2011/12 series along with Professor Elleke Boehmer (Wolfson) and Dr Margaret Kean (St Hilda’s), leads a discussion of her own research interests in children’s books, projects undertaken by former and current students (particularly finalists), and her vision for the programme.

June 13th (Week 7): The Meiji Material Girl: Developing the Image of the Female Student through Literature. Josephine Rout, Royal College of Art
Josephine currently studies Asian design and material culture at RCA and will shortly act as curatorial assistant for a display at the Victoria and Albert Museum examining the influence of British design and culture on Japanese street fashion. In this session she will focus on her recent research into the development of Japanese school uniforms. In particular, Josephine is interested in the appearance of these garments before the adoption of now-ubiquitous items inspired by nineteenth-century British children’s dress, such as the sailor suit. She will also consider the depiction of the schoolgirl in Japanese literature, including some children's books.