New Book Considers Influence of Literature on Walt Disney

In a work that explores the influence of literature on Walt Disney and his creativity, Mark West, chair of the English Department, has co-edited and contributed to the recently released Walt Disney, from Reader to Storyteller: Essays on the Literary Inspirations (McFarland & Company, Inc.)

The book addresses Disney as a reader and how his “responses to literature fueled his success,” wrote West and his co-editor, Kathy Merlock Jackson. “In his work, he tapped into the audience by selecting stories that they might have known but transformed these to suit other sensibilities,” they wrote.

The collection of essays consider Disney’s reading as a child and as an adult, the authors who influenced him and the literary connections to his live-action and animated films, his theme parks, documentaries and creative vision.

Other UNC Charlotte contributors to the collection are Paula Connolly, associate professor of English; Katie Croxton, who earned a master’s degree in English from the University; Brenda Shue, a staff member in the Chancellor’s Office who completed a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University; and Walter Squire, a former lecturer in English and American studies.

Since joining the University’s English Department in 1984, West has been committed to bringing children’s literature to life for his students. He uses an interdisciplinary approach, investigating the history of childhood, child psychology and the cultural assumptions that undergird attitudes toward children’s reading material.

West’s commitment to teaching children’s literature extends beyond the classroom. In addition to publishing numerous scholarly and pedagogical essays, he helped to establish children’s literature at UNC Charlotte as a nationally recognized area of expertise. West has written and edited over a dozen books on children’s literature and culture and is a former president of the Children’s Literature Association.

Merlock Jackson is professor and coordinator of communication at Virginia Wesleyan College, where she teaches courses in media studies and coordinates the communication internship program.