Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Jeremy Green

Second Advisor

Emily Harrington

Third Advisor

Garrett Bredeson

Abstract

Thing theory has gained traction in recent years after Bill Brown’s essay codified the theory. Using his definition of things and their distinction from objects, as well as drawing from Jane Bennett’s work with the thing/object divide, in particular examining the flat ontology they seek to create between things and humans, I look at the genre of children’s films and how the anthropomorphized characters play into this distinction. After examining two specific films, The Brave Little Toaster and the Toy Story series, I conclude that they subvert the hierarchy laid out by thing theory, and that things are instead a less desirable form of being compared to objects. These films support objects as a preferred method of being, and from this, estrangement with the world is eliminated but consumerism is supported. After examining another film in that vein, Beauty and the Beast, I consider the implications that children’s films have in our society, and how this potentially informs the adult lives of my generation and others following. The things in these beloved films that children grow up with perhaps contribute to the consumerist nature that adults find themselves participating in. Rather than alleviating anxieties about consumerism, these movies instead create anxieties alongside dismantling Brown and Bennett’s flat ontology.

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