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Title:Bienvenida a Disney princess Elena: Exploring race, age, and gender in Disney’s Elena of Avalor
Author(s):Leon-Boys, Diana
Director of Research:Valdivia, Angharad N.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Valdivia, Angharad N.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McCarthy, Cameron; Molina-Guzmán, Isabel; Washington, Myra
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Media, Latinidad, Disney, Gender, Race
Abstract:Working at the intersection of Media Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Girls’ Studies, this dissertation explores Disney’s contemporary construction of Latinidad by focusing on Elena of Avalor, Disney’s first Latina princess. Situated against the backdrop of contemporary postfeminist and neoliberal discourses of girls, this dissertation examines Disney’s engagement with these discourses as they move from their previously binary approach of black/white representations. Through a multi-method project, consisting of three case studies, I interrogate a mediated Latina girlhood at three different nodes: production, text, and audiences. My analysis is inspired by the circuit of culture approach (Du Gay et al., 1997) and what media studies scholar Douglas Kellner refers to as the tripartite approach to media/cultural studies (Kellner, 1995). I understand the production, text, and audience components of this dissertation as equally significant processes that must be studied together in order to unearth the significance of this cultural text in relation to Latina girlhoods. More specifically, my dissertation investigates the following questions: Does Disney’s construction of Elena of Avalor fit with their ambivalent inclusion of Latinidad and if so how?; and is Elena a consistent figure of girl power? Disney, a global purveyor of media content and one of the top transnational media conglomerates, functions in a demographic reality in which the 2000 U.S. Census revealed that Latinxs are the largest minority in the nation. Disney’s acknowledgement of these findings is heterogeneous in that they continue to produce ethnically specific characters and narratives while simultaneously courting a broad range of global audiences through tenuous ethnic ambiguity. Their newest princess, which Disney introduces as proudly Latina, embodies elements of the specific as well as of the ambiguous ethnic. This project examines the limits and possibilities of this intrinsically contradictory strategy to representation of ethnicity by analyzing the production of the text along with Disney’s previous engagements with race and ethnicity in general and Latin American-ness and US Latinidad in particular; discursively analyzing three key episodes in the first season; and interrogating how Disneyland includes and situates Elena and her fans at the park.
Issue Date:2020-03-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Diana Leon-Boys
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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