Sean Griffin

Film & Media Arts





Sean Griffin is a professor in the SMU Meadows Division of Film and Media Arts. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1997; his dissertation became the book Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out, examining the relationships between Disney and lesbian/gay/queer culture. Griffin is also the author of Free and Easy?: A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre and co-author of America on Film: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies and Queer Images: A History of Lesbian and Gay Film in America. He has also edited several anthologies and contributed a number of articles on the musical genre, soap operas and Disney to journals and other anthologies.

Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Griffin helped produce television ad campaigns for Disney and Touchstone motion pictures, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit?; Dead Poets Society; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; The Little Mermaid; Pretty Woman; Dick Tracy; and Beauty and the Beast.


Ph.D. and M.A. in Cinema-Television/Critical Studies, University of Southern California
B.A. English, Loyola University, Chicago

Recent Work

Professional Experience
Dr. Griffin teaches courses on the history of animation and on musicals - and often sings to his classes! He teaches a variety of other history/criticism courses from introductory to upper-division courses on film/media theory, as well as graduate seminar courses, including:

America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies, 3rd edition, co-authored with Harry M. Benshoff (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2021)

Free and Easy?: A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2017)

What Dreams Were Made Of: Movie Stars of the 1940s, ed. Sean Griffin (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2011)

Hetero: Queering Representations of Straightness, ed. Sean Griffin (New York: SUNY Press, 2009)

Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America, co-authored with Harry M. Benshoff (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)

In Focus: Queer Theory, The Film Reader, co-edited with Harry M. Benshoff (London and New York: Routledge, 2004)

Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out (New York: New York University Press, 2000)

Articles and Book Chapters
“Mamae eu quero: Carmen Miranda’s Maternal Abundance,” rebeca 2:2 (July-December 2012).

“Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland: Babes and Beyond,” What Dreams Were Made Of: Movie Stars of the 1940s, ed. Sean Griffin (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2011).

“Bloody Mary Is the Girl I Love: U.S. White Liberalism vs. Pacific Islander Subjectivity in South Pacific,” The Sound of Musicals, ed. Steven Cohan (London: BFI/Palgrave, 2010).

“The Illusion of ‘Identity’: Gender and Racial Representation in Aladdin,” Animation: Art and Industry, ed. Maureen Furniss (Eastleigh, UK: John Libbey, 2008).

“The Wearing of the Green: Performing Irishness in the Fox Wartime Musical,” The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity, and Popular Culture, ed. Diane Negra (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

“Curiouser and Curiouser: Lesbian/Gay Days at the Disney Theme Parks,” Rethinking Disney: Private Control and Public Dimensions, eds. Mike Budd, William Covino and Mix Kirsch (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2005).

“Tailoring Expectations: An Anatomy of a TV Spot Campaign for a Theatrical Film” in Demnachst in Ihrem Kino. Grundlagen der Filmwerbung, eds. Vinzenz Hediger and Patrick Vonderau (Marburg: Schuren, 2004).

“The Gang’s All Here: Generic vs. Racial Integration in the 1940s Musical,” Cinema Journal 42:1 (Fall 2002).

“‘You’ve Never Had a Friend Like Me’: Target Marketing Disney to a Gay Community,” Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Text-Reader, eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2002).

“Kings of the Wild Backyard: Davy Crockett and Children’s Space,” Kids’ Media Culture, ed. Marsha Kinder (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999).

“‘Pronoun Trouble’: The Queerness of Animation,” Spectator 15:1 (Fall 1994).

“Play MST-y for Me: The Discursive Excess of Mystery Science Theater 3000,” Spectator 14:1 (Fall 1993).

“Keeping Erica Alive: Soap Opera and the Problem of Mastery,” Spectator 9:2 (Fall 1989).

Course list

FILM 1301 The Art of Film & Media
FILM 2344  History of Animated Film
FILM 2351 International Film History
FILM 3352 American Film History
FILM 3353 American Broadcast History
FILM 2362  Diversity and American Film
FILM 3300,  Film/TV Genres: Musical
FILM 3300 Film/TV Genres: Soap Opera
FILM 3375 Postwar European Cinema, 1945-Present
FILM 4353 Philosophy of Film/Media
Sean Griffin