Date of Award

Spring 6-7-2016

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Mike Hamilton

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Scott Kolbo


animation, cartoons, disney, american, history, contemporary


This project attempts to elucidate the connection between animation and preconceptions about appropriate age demographics in the United States. It endeavors to demonstrate that animation has primarily remained a children’s medium because of contingent contextual factors, rather than elements inherent to the medium, and that its evolution over time is proof of its merits as a medium. Through an exploration of the Golden Age of animation between the late 1930s and the late 1950s, as well as an exploration of animation between 1988 and the present, it uses various examples within film, television, and theatrical shorts to show limitations placed on the medium. These limitations caused the medium to be marketed towards children and to be perceived as being only for children, creating a paradigm in which more mature explorations were infrequent. Both the preconceptions and the consequences of the contextual factors that caused this remain to this day, but American animation’s history has provided evidence that these strictures are not inescapable.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program.

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