<i>Mickey’s Trailer</i> and Environmental Thought: Disney Cartoons and Countryside

  • Joe Goddard University of Copenhagen


The influence of popular cartoons on environmental cognition is explored in this essay through readings of Mickey’s Trailer, a 1938 cartoon directed by Ben Sharpsteen for Walt Disney. Other materials considered include Ford Motor Company’s 1937-38 film coproduced by Wilder Pictures, Glacier International Park, which promotes motor-tourism and automobile ownership, and Ben Sharpsteen’s other work for Walt Disney. The article also examines the ideas of physical and “illusional” zoning in the city, especially the way that they were applied in the mid-twentieth century. Physical zoning involved separating incompatible land uses, whereas illusional zoning entailed seeing what you wanted to see. What does Mickey’s Trailer say about how people can live, and can it inform where people choose to live? The essay muses that appreciations of nature and the environment are influenced by popular culture.

Author Biography

Joe Goddard, University of Copenhagen
Joe Goddard is Associate Professor of American History at the Department of English, Germanic, and Romance Studies, University of Copenhagen. Goddard lectures, teaches, and writes on contemporary American history, politics, and society. Major research projects have focused on the intersection of the city and the environment since 1945. Currently, Goddard is working on the role of prizewinning children’s picture-books in postwar environmental perception. Goddard’s most significant publications include <i>Being American on the Edge: Penurbia and the Metropolitan Mind, 1945-2010</i> (2012) and <i>Contemporary America</i> (2013, with Russell Duncan). Recent articles and essays deal with landscape perception, the American bicentennial, and the work of children’s book author, Virginia Lee Burton.