Not Just Kidding Around: On Teaching Children’s Media (SCMS 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
August 18, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Andrew Scahill / University of Colorado Denver
contact email: 

**CFP for the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) 2018 Conference in Toronto**

In an academic setting, weighty or dramatic “adult” films are generally met with intellectual curiosity by students, or at least an acknowledgement that they are “worthy” of consideration. Genre films like horror or action are met with more resistance, but generally students are willing to admit they have some sort of ideological investments. Films aimed at children, however, are often dismissed as just entertainment. Surely we may analyze Bicycle Thieves, but Home Alone? Yes to Goodfellas, no to Goonies.

The assumption is often that younger audience equates to a simpler text. In teaching children’s media, professors also must deal with the legacy of media effects research, which often leads to knee-jerk and oversimplified assumptions (“Disney princesses are bad!”) and the construction of a completely passive child spectator. Rarely, too, do we discuss how children’s media is designed with a bilateral address to both children and adults, often serving as a meditation on what it means to be a parent as much as what it means to be a child. As a “low” or unworthy genre, professors may also have to deal with an administration unable to see the value in teaching a course on kids’ films.

Pedagogy is a neglected subject in media studies, and this workshop promises a positive, collaborative, and supportive atmosphere. This will be a “best practices”-style workshop, and our facilitators will bring teaching materials to distribute among attendees, including model syllabi, assignment prompts, and discussion prompts. Each facilitator will be asked to prepare a short testimony about a challenge they experienced teaching children’s media, and what steps they took to overcome it. This comes at an important time for our 2018 conference, as the “Children’s and Youth Media and Culture” scholarly interest group is merely a year old, and this workshop would aid in our community-building and recruitment efforts.

To express interest, please contact Andrew Scahill (University of Colorado Denver) at by August 18 and explain how you would be able to contribute to this workshop. 


keywords: pedagogy workshop children media animation film cinema kids academia