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In honor of the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid and the 50th anniversary of The Haunted Mansion, DePaul Pop Culture Conference presented A Celebration of Disney in 2019.

We raised over $900 for Huntington’s Disease Society of America--

Our Distinguished Contributions to Popular Culture Award Recipient was Philo Barnhart

Our Academic Keynote was Dr. Rebecca Williams.


Keynote Speakers


Dr. Rebecca Williams

Academic keynote for 2019’s Celebration of Disney!

Dr Williams is Senior Lecturer in Communication, Culture and Media Studies at the University of South Wales. Her work on fandom has been published in journals such as Celebrity Studies, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Transformative Works & Cultures, Continuum, Popular Communication, and Cinema Journal and she is a member of the Board of the Fan Studies Network. She is the author of Post-object Fandom: Television, Identity and Self-Narrative (2015, Bloomsbury) and editor of Torchwood Declassified (2013, I.B. Tauris) and Transitions, Endings, and Resurrections in Fandom (2018, University of Iowa Press). She is currently writing Theme Park Fandom: Distinction, Immersion & Participatory Culture for University of Amsterdam Press.


Philo Barnhart

Professional keynote for 2019’s Celebration of Disney!

Philo Barnhart is professional film animator living in Oak Park, IL, known for his work on feature-length films: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under, The Secret of NIMH, Happily Ever After, An American Tail, and special effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. 

Philo worked many animated TV shows and video games including The Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Jem and the Holograms, Space Ace, Dragons Lair, and many more. He worked on consumer products for several years with Disney, and to this day you can still find his artwork still being used on toys, books, home electronics/appliances, apparel, and posters. Philo's parents Dale Barnhart and Phyllis Barnhart were both animators at Disney's animation studios. Growing up watching the magic of art become animation, he spends his life continuing the tradition of making stories come to life through art. Currently Philo is working with Silver Phoenix Entertainment Inc. His latest comic title is Whispers from the Void

2019 Charity: Huntington’s Disease Society of America


The Huntington's Disease Society of America is the premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. From community services and education to advocacy and research, HDSA is the world’s leader in providing help for today and hope for tomorrow for people with Huntington’s disease and their families.

HDSA's network of chapters, affiliates, HDSA Centers of Excellence, social workers and support groups provides a seamless connection for help, education and outreach to HD families and health care professionals across the United States.

DePaul Pop Culture Conference is proud to support HDSA through donations, tee-shirt sales, and our annual silent auction. See our other charitable work here.


2019 Conference Schedule

All times/panels subject to change

(Downloadable version)

* denotes panel chair

9:00 – Conference opens/registration. 8th floor lobby.

9:15-10:15: Session 1 - Panels

1A. Language and Literature in Disney. 1137.

Carey Millsap-Spears* - “A Fine Young Cannibal: The Lone Ranger’s Villain and Native American Gothic Fiction”

Kate Behr – ““I’m Surrounded by Idiots!” Does Disney Have an Anti-intellectual Agenda?”

Michael Howarth – “Disney, Frankenweenie, and the Gothic”

Kristin Noone – “Disney’s Robin Hood, Medievalism, and Timespace”

Lynnette Porter – “Poetically Skewering the Disney Experience: Limericks and Haikus”

Jennifer Wojton – “‘The Death of the Man Who Invented Plastic Roses:’ The Disney Experience in Verse”

1B. Playing Disney. 1140.

Jack Fennimore* – “How a Disney Movie Becomes a Video Game”

Bobby Schweizer – “Tokyo Disneyland Games in Japan”

Katie Utke – “Kingdom Hearts is Light: A Discussion About the Game Series”

1C. Women in Animation. 805.

Meghann Artes* – DePaul University Associate Professor in Animation

Hannah Tate – “Like Father, Like Son: How Pixar Became a Modern Ink and Paint for Its Women Employees

Naghmeh Farzaneh – DePaul University Professional Lecturer in Animation

1D. Screening. 802.

Pixar’s Up (join us in 806 after the screening for a discussion of Pixar’s storytelling techniques)


Learn how to be a royal with lessons from an official princess. This one hour session includes prince/princess lessons and crowns/tiara making to look the part.

10:30-11:30 Session 2 - Keynote

2A. Academic keynote: Dr. Rebecca Williams. 806 .

“Spatially Poaching the Haunted Mansion: The Pleasures, Perils & Participatory Affordances of Disney Theme Park Fandom”


Come and craft with a princess. In this one hour session paint a teacup and prepare for the royal tea party.

11:45-12:45 Session 3 - Panels

3A. Disney and Horror. 1137.

Catherine Lester* - “‘It Is Not a Fairy Tale’: How Disney Invented the Contemporary Children’s Horror Film”

Jim Creel – “The Safest Space on Earth: Disneyland and White Denial”

Lisa Duffy – “‘If You Aren't Shakin' Then There's Something Very Wrong’: Musical Horror in Disney Villain Songs”

Kendall Phillips – “Blurring the Boundaries: Disney’s Alice’s Spooky Adventure and the Development of the Horror Genre” 

3B. Disney Theatrical Productions: Twenty-Five Years of Disney on Broadway. 1140.

Amy Osatinski* - History of Disney Theatrical Productions”

Cameron Michael Chase – “The Performers Perspective”

Kathryn Edny – “Race in Disney Musicals”

Christin Mandracchia – “Gender/Queerness in Disney Musicals”

3C. How Walt Disney’s Virtual Office Inspired Us* (until 2:00) (VR experience), 802.

Wendy Tackett*

Paul Tackett

Steve Chapman

3D. Disney and Feminism. 805.

Moderated by Michele Leigh*

Ryan Freels – “‘We Build Our Future Together, Where Disney Is’: Attempts Towards an Ecofeminist Response to Toxic Masculinity Through Orientalist Hyperreality in Moana

Lisa Rothman – “Female Relationships in Moana

Brandy E. Wilcox – “That Perfect Girl is Gone: Disney’s Developing Princesses”

Lauren Sowa – “A Dream is a Wish Your Brain Manifests into Reality: A Comparative Analysis of Disney Princess’ Autonomy and the Dream Big, Princess Campaign”

Tyra Wooten – “The Paradox of Disney’s Princess Theme: ‘Dream Big, Princess’”

Dustin Hageland – “Incredibles 2 and Marketable Feminism: A Feminist Critique of Incredibles 2 and Pixar's Approach to Their ‘Girl Problem’”

Leah Gaydos - Princess Performer

3E. “Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling” Workshop: Scott Myers. 806.

3F. Disney Karaoke. 804.

1:00-2:00 Session 4 - Keynote

4A. Professional Keynote: Philo Barnhart. 806.

Animator, The Little Mermaid


Now that you learned how to be a royal, join a princess for a royal tea party. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

2:15-3:15 Session 5 - Panels

5A. Disney’s Animated Path to Personhood: To Liberalism and Beyond. 1140.

H. Peter Steeves* – “‘I've Got No Strings!’: Pinocchio, Benito, and Walt”

Danielle Meijer – “Beauty and the Beast: on Captive Children, Stockholm Syndrome, and the Family”

Jonathan Singer – “‘In This Town, Don't We Love It Now?’: Community, Otherness, and the Limits of Classical Liberalism in The Nightmare Before Christmas”

5B. Fandom and the Disney Industry. 1137.

Stacy Lantagne* – Disney’s Fanfiction Monopoly: How Disney Builds Its Empire on Shrinking Copyright’s Public Domain”

John Fennimore – “The Legacy of Shrek and its Impact on Disney”

Sean Griffin – “Fidelity-fiduciary-expialidocious: Mary Poppins’s Returns”

Brandy E. Wilcox – “Across the Sea, Not Under It: Disney Songs Abroad”

Simon Laperrière – “‘Captain Hook Killed the Little Mermaid’s Mother’: Fan Theories and the Disney Canon”

Liz Laurie – “#DisneyCosplay”

5C. Disney and the Body. 802.

Jeanne Holcomb*, Dan Fernandez-Baca, and Kenzie Latham-Minus – “Disney and Disability: Media Representations of Disability in Disney and Pixar Animated Films”

Krystal Kara – “Disney and Body Dysmorphia

Christina Maenpaa – “Disability in The Hunchback of Notre Dame” 

5D. Love in Disney. 805.

Katie Utke* - “See How I Glitter: Queer-coding in Disney Films”

Nettie Brock – “‘You Can Either Run From It, or Learn From It’: The Legacy of the Disney Renaissance as Sacrificial Lessons”

Sean Hill – “Healing the Father: Recurring Themes of Paternal-child Relational Trauma and Healing in Disney Films”

5E. Live Commentary on The Little Mermaid (until 4:15). 806. 


Sing along to some of your favorite royal tunes with a princess. Once you've sung your heart art pose like a royal and show off your new accessories in a princess photo-op.

5G. Signings: Tremblay, Osatinski, Barnhart (after commentary). 11th floor lobby


3:30-4:30 Session 6 - Panels

6A. Disney: Remixed – Discussion Panel. 1137.

Samantha Close*

Anne Smith

6B. You’re Watching Disney Channel (and ABC). 1140.

Morgan Blue* - “Diversity and Girlhood on Disney Channel”

Jim Iaccino – “Once Upon a Time: Bringing the Disney Fairy Tales to Life on the Small Screen…and Beyond”

Bri Mattia – “‘Disney Episodes’ on the ABC Sitcoms of TGIF”

Laura Tate – “Wandering Gender: Style, Story, and Representation in Disney’s Wander Over Yonder

Katie Utke – “And You’re Watching the Disney Channel”

6C. Marvelous May the Fourth: Disney Brand Extensions. 802.

William Staton* - “The Anonymity of ‘Based On’: Authorship in Disney-era Marvel Studios”

Lauren Clark – “Finding a Domestic Hero Among the Superheroes”

Matthew Cooper – “‘I Can Do This’: The ‘De-politicized’ Characters of Disney’s Star Wars

Alex Rodriguez – “From Chic to Geek: How Disney Is Making “nerd Culture” Appealing to Girls”

6D. Gender in Disney Media. 805.

Moderated by Michele Leigh*

Laura Bluett – “Just Listen: Re-imagining Gender in the Animated Films of Disney and Pixar”

Kennedy Joseph – “Real Women Have Tails? Lessons in Gender Equality and Feminism in Disney’s Zootopia

Ronja Denker – “‘For Who Could Ever Learn to Love a Beast?’ Hyper-masculinity and “Inner Beauty” in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Khara Lukancic – “#MeToo Masculinity: Critiquing Gendered Aggression in Beauty and the Beast (1991 and 2017)”

Alisa Schribman – “Dropping the ‘E’ Word: Re-de-trans-forming Snow White’s Evil Queen”

Courtney Beresheim – “Archetypes of Disney Princesses”

Leah Gaydos - Princess Performer

6E. Disney Karaoke. 804.


6F. Self Defense Workshop. 806.

Torriente Toliver and Janet Gillett*

4:45–5:45 Session 7 - Panels

7A. The Disney Theme Park. 1137.

Ross Garner* - “The Reluctant Dinosaur, or, Walt Disney World’s Dino-visibility Problem: Copyright, Branding, and Spatial Proximity in a Themed Entertainment Context”

Steve Clairmont – “EPCOT: From ‘City of the Future’ to ‘Drinking Around the World’

Carter Moulton – “Stars, Cars & Banshees: The Promise of Immersion at Disney's Themed Lands”

Garret Neal – “The Transformation of EPCOT Into ‘IP’COT”

Carly Petrusky – “‘We Wants the (New) Red Head:’ A Tale of Ride Refurbishment in Trump’s America”

Stephen Yandall – “Be Our (Reimagined) Guest: Casting Riders as Moral Agents in the Disney Dark Ride”

7B. Teaching Disney: Using Disney in the Classroom. 1140.

Moderated by Courtney Beresheim*

Vickie Edwards – “Class is Like a Hurricane: The Ducktales Simulation Experiment”

Owen M. Smith and Anne Collins Smith– “The P’u of Tigger”

Christopher Tremblay – “Walt’s Pilgrimage: The Life of Walt Disney”

Susan Ohmer – “Disney and Musical Theatre” 

7C. Seeing the Other in Disney. 802.

Laura Springman* - “Why Can’t I Kiss the Girl?: Disney’s Erasure of Female Queer Characters”

Isabella Jorgensen and Peyton Brunet – “‘What Kind of Primitive Beasts Are Responsible for This Mess?’: Disney and the Policing of Non-whiteness”

Diksha Mittel – “Disney Princess Dig ‘n Dip: Representations and Implications”

Liz Laurie – “Cosplaying as Ursula”

Taylor Damann – “Tale as Old as Time: Gendered Coverage in Hawley v. Mccaskill 

7D. Disneybounding: The Show. 805.

Nettie Brock*

Laura Bluett

Cameron Michael Chase

7E. Disney Karaoke. 804.

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