Belk Library Doorway Series presents ‘The Journey of Women in Animated Disney Films’


The Appalachian Online

Kelsey Hamm

A presentation by doctoral research scholar Mukulika Dattagupta titled, “The Journey of Women in Animated Disney Films” was shown Sunday in Belk Library.

The presentation highlighted the changes in women through Disney animation over time. Movies analyzed included “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Cinderella,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Mulan,” “Tangled,” “Brave” and “Frozen,” Dattagupta said.

“The presentation did a great job of highlighting how far Disney movies have come, and addressing where we need to go in the future,” participant and junior biology Major Erica Stewart said.

One moment of disagreement, Stewart said, occurred when participants discussed Elsa’s change in “Frozen” from wearing a conservative outfit to a less conservative dress.

“There was a lot of good conversation about whether or not this change encourages women to draw power from their appearance, and I think we did a good job of examining why the change was both positive and negative,” Stewart said.

Dattagupta said she decided to complete the presentation after watching Disney movies on ABC’s weekend “Funday” television program.

“As I watched, I realized that each woman differed in appearance. So I researched the release dates and found the chronology of Disney movies interesting,” Dattagupta said.

Dattagupta said she hopes the presentation will inspire students to discuss the material further.

“What I’m trying to put across is that children’s literature is not a very innocent thing,” Dattagupta said. “It often has a lot of hidden ideas in them. The presentation is to remind us that it’s not useful to stare blankly into something – our mind registers a lot, and children’s minds absorb a lot.”

Ian Ratcliff, a sophomore biology major, said he enjoyed the presentation’s discussion about both men and women.

“[Dattagupta] did a good job of pointing out that male characters have also changed a lot in Disney movies,” Ratcliff said. “The portrayal of women in the movies has completely changed, and a lot of the male characters have supported the princesses in their goals, which is positive.”

Dattagupta is a 2014-15 senior Fulbright Fellow from the School of Media Communication and Culture at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India. She is currently based at the University of South Carolina. The Fulbright program is the largest national and international exchange service for graduate studies.

The presentation at Appalachian was part of the Doorway Series, an information and idea sharing program sponsored by the Belk Library and Information Commons, the Reich College of Education and the Office of International Education and Development.

According to the event’s page on, the goal of the series is “to provide a platform for people to share their research and knowledge on international issues and build relationships based on interest in international affairs.”

Story: Kelsey Hamm, Intern A&E Reporter