UVA’s Carmenita Higginbotham Brings a Touch of Magic to American Cultural History
How does one explain the colossal impact that Walt Disney and the entertainment empire he inspired has on our culture? McIntire Department of Art Associate Professor Carmenita Higginbotham has looked at the magic and allure of Disney from a variety of angles. She teaches an American studies course at the University on “The Art of Disney” and an art history course on Disneyland. This fall, Higginbotham brought her expertise to a national audience when she served as a commentator on the PBS American Experience documentary Walt Disney, which opened up the inner sanctum of the Disney empire like never before while offering unique first-person recollections of the man himself from some of his closest colleagues. In addition to sharing little known tidbits (Disney first pitched Snow White by lending voices to every one of its characters!), the documentary offers a multi-layered look at the man and his work. “The film exposes how complex he was as an individual,” Higginbotham recently told UVA Today. “He is a polarizing figure in American cultural history – you either really love him or really hate him.” She also recently shared the Paramount Theater stage with legendary Disney producer Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) as well as Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle in the Beauty and the Beast, as part of a special 25th anniversary screening of the film at the Virginia Film Festival.