Representations of Children in Disney Films

Representations of Children in Disney Films

HOW TO DEVELOP A GOOD RESEARCH QUESTION: Historians develop their thesis (argument) after reading and analyzing their sources, but a good research question will guide your whole inquiry.

The best research questions are open-ended. “How” is a better question than “did.” You might ask: How does an educational report portray the purpose of school (or the nature of childhood)? What ideas about gender (or race or childhood) are expressed in advice literature or a children’s book? Try to avoid yes-or-no questions (e.g., did the author present immigrant children in a demeaning way?), and avoid questions that cannot be answered from your source (How did teenage girls react to this dating advice book?).

“Compare and contrast” topics are a good option if you analyze two or more sources. For example, you could compare the representation of children/mothers/fathers in two films or TV shows, or examine the changes and continuities in the “ideal teenager” by comparing high school yearbooks from different times.

Historians care a great deal about writing, and your paper will be marked for logic, clarity, and neatness, as well as for content and quality (the quality of your argument and the quality of your primary and secondary sources). Use quotations wisely, quote mostly from primary – not secondary – sources, and follow the Chicago Manual of Style method of citation. As always, check for spelling and grammatical errors and typos, and don’t forget to number the pages.


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