"Depend on, rely on, count on": Economic subjectivities aboard The Polar Express

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Abstract

Christmas literature and film produced for children is an important, albeit under-researched, site for the production of cultural values and norms. This paper analyses Chris Van Allsburg's 1985 picture book The Polar Express, the 2004 Warner Brothers feature film of the same title, the film's official website, and resources for teachers distributed online by Houghton Mifflin, considering how these texts construct childhood subjectivities in economic terms. The argument made is that nostalgic depictions of ordered, middle-class lifestyles, the representation of social class inequalities as immutable structural norms, and signifiers of corporate capitalism, together locate childhood and child subjectivities as inexorably tethered to socio-economic circumstance and experience. Copyright © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-148
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Volume40
Issue number2
Early online dateJan 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Citation

Saltmarsh, S. (2009). "Depend on, rely on, count on": Economic subjectivities aboard The Polar Express. Children's Literature in Education, 40(2), 136-148. doi: 10.1007/s10583-009-9084-1

Keywords

  • Economic subjectivities
  • Social class
  • Consumption
  • Childhood
  • Christmas
  • The Polar Express

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