Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Caitlin Keller L&S Arts & Humanities

Media as a Mother: Representations of Queerness in Children's Media

While many know the wicked sea witch Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, few understand that she was based on the drag queen Divine. Ursula is only one of a myriad of representations of queerness in children’s media. My project explores the evolution of queer representation in children’s media and the role it plays in transforming mainstream cultural norms, working as a tool to socialize children. From the demonization of queer characteristics resulting in queer-coded villains to same-sex kisses on animated television shows of the 21st century, queer representation in children’s media has evolved significantly since the mid 1900s. By critically engaging with representations of queerness in children’s media, my research will uncover the mechanisms by which media can more inclusively portray the complexities of sexual orientation and gender identity. Positive and explicit depictions of queerness can normalize gender fluidity and same-sex attraction, leading to identity affirmation in children. My research will synthesize and analyze prior sporadic research, while considering the unique intersection between children’s media and representations of queerness.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much for allowing me to pursue my research this summer! I really appreciate it, as this will help me so much in developing the skills to write my Senior thesis and will be the first major research project I will undertake. Thank you for your commitment to nurturing the interests of undergraduate students and making my research possible.
Profile image of Caitlin Keller
Major: Media Studies and Political Science
Mentor: Meeta Rani Jha
Sponsor: Anselm A&H Fund
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