Kimberly R. Moffitt, American Studies
"Acting While Black (and Male) in Disney’s Land"
Since the early 1980s, Disney television programming has served in the dominant position of constructing a culture of childhood for American children. With three major cable access channels (Disney Junior, Disney Channel, and Disney XD) that offer programming from birth to tween age, Disney is recognized as an influential socialization agent among children. And given such significance, a study of young, Black male portrayals would offer an understanding of their societal constructions among a specific audience of children. As a result of its physical and psychological trauma in American society, the black body has been described as a “walking text” of the nation’s history (Henderson, 2002). And with the physical embodiment of a Black male as the current president of the United States, it appears the text is offering a new narrative about the black (male) body. The story now told offers reconciliation of past racial sins and hope for a society that no longer projects its blatant disgust and desire upon this battered body. This seeming post-racial shift might also suggest a new representation of this body, and by extension the males who represent this body in television programming. Because children, via media, often learn early societal constructions, an exploration of such programming could prove insightful to this discussion. Specifically, this project aims to examine the images and messages featured in Disney television programming pertaining to its young, Black male characters. I envision this work as a chapter of a larger book project that investigates the impact of children’s programming on Black youth. The text will explore not only Disney programming, but also films and other television networks (e.g., Nickelodean, Cartoon Network) that feature Black characters, animated or human.
Carole McCann, Gender + Women's Studies
“Malthus, Mathematics, and Modern Masculinity: Demographic Discipline and Mid-Twentieth Century Population Politics”
The project “Malthus, Mathematics, and Modern Masculinity: Demographic Discipline and Mid-Twentieth Century Population Politics” builds on her previous investigations of the social worlds and discourses of birth control and eugenics to focus on the social and textual processes by which the field of demography established its epistemic authority in the mid-twentieth century. The project uses an innovative combination of theoretical and methodological tools from science studies, transnational feminisms, masculinity studies, and affect theory to explain the specific configuration of statistics, modernization theory, and hegemonic masculinity that characterized demographic knowledge of the ‘population explosion.’ Situated squarely within the domain of interdisciplinary humanities scholarship, the resulting book will provide an intertextual history of the scientific knowledge upon which both policy and popular belief depended. It will illuminate the representational scaffolding that ties time, territory, and bodies together in population statistics such as the U.N. prediction of a global population of 9 billion in 2050. At the same time, demography is a particularly rich site for investigating the complex nexus of gender, race, and nation in modern epistemologies. The project thus contributes to feminist science studies scholarship, which seeks to bridge the interdisciplines of transnational feminism and social studies of science. The work that will be completed during the spring elucidates the neo-colonial gendered logic that organizes emblematic demographic accounts of rapid population growth in India. It shows how demographic figures, represented as cold hard numerical facts, spurred the mathematical panic that fueled aggressive population control efforts. And it explains how demographers retooled Malthusian and eugenic narratives in response to mid-century challenges to conventional racialized, colonial, and gender relations.