Dis-History: Uses of the Past at Walt Disney’s Worlds

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January 2017

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Modern American culture is a broad, ever-changing beast, its fur of many colors, its tendons just barely holding the patchwork creature together. And through it all flows the pixie blood that was brewed, bottled, and broadcast by Walt Disney. Professor Jason Lantzer teaches history at Butler University. In addition to the usual topics, he teaches a very unique kind of history: Dis-History. It's how he describes the influence of Walt Disney, and later the Disney company, on modern American culture, and in particular how Walt shaped that culture with nostalgia, myth, and historical fact packaged as animated cartoons, feature films and television shows, and theme parks. Lantzer's Walt Disney is more than an animator, more than a businessman, more than the friendly presence on Sunday night television. Walt took the tenets of his time, an essentially rural, isolationist America, and brought them to the big screen, and later to his hermetic Disneyland, imbuing each successive generation with the cultural icons that Walt hand-picked as essential to the kind of America he wanted to create, and to the kind of American he wanted to live there. Today, it's the Disney theme parks that truly power Walt's vision. In the theme parks there is no escape from Disney culture, and like the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion, some of it always follows you home. Professor Lantzer uses these theme parks as the subject of his engaging, insightful, and sometimes slightly disturbing study of the Dis-History that circulates throughout our culture.


This is a link to Dis-History: Uses of the Past at Walt Disney’s Worlds written by Jason S. Lantzer published in Theme Park Press, 2017.