Call for Papers: Moral Theology and the World of Walt Disney

Editor: Jeremy E. Scarbrough (

Theology and Pop Culture is seeking contributions for a potential edited volume on Moral Theology and the Musical World of Walt Disney, to be published by Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield.

The significant contributions of Walt Disney Studios in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—to our overall appreciation of the arts; to our theological imagination; and to our moral sensitivities—are especially observable in the celebrated animated musicals. These classic musical narratives are undeniably powerful… but why is this?  And why are these films so affective in engaging the moral and theological imaginaries? What is the significance of Disney’s impact on storytelling and what is the nature of Disney’s ability to speak so powerfully to the moral imaginaries of so many individuals across so many cultures? What theological themes or transcripts does Disney engage so as to draw the viewer back to questions of truth, goodness, beauty, and justice?  (For the philosopher of music) Why are the animated musicals such a uniquely powerful tool for moral storytelling in the World of Walt Disney?  While many aestheticians in the twentieth century stressed either form or emotion as foundational to music’s aesthetic value, some philosophers find significance in music’s referential power and world-projection—a potential for enrapturing the imagination in order to draw it beyond the music per se.

This volume will explore theologically-significant themes in ethics and justice observable within the narratives or music (whether lyrics or referential symbolism) of classic Disney animated films.  As the book progresses, it may expand to include other theological transcripts with the intent of tying these themes back into questions of truth, goodness, beauty, and justice.

Target Audience, Specified Emphasis, and Potential Topics:

This ambitious work lies at the crossroads of philosophy, theology, and the arts, so essays could come from a wide variety of perspectives and explore a number of issues. Essays should be written to target scholars of moral philosophy, theology and aesthetics, while also remaining easily accessible to the layperson. Contributions should target classic animated Disney musicals specifically (live action remakes are permissible if they expand the dialogue), and may cover any aspect of moral philosophy and theology, including but not limited to:

  • The subjectivity/objectivity of moral truth
  • Social justice for the poor and outcast
  • Duty, utility, law, and grace
  • The fact/value split (epistemological struggles between faith and science)
  • Teleological purpose vs existential freedom
  • Appetite and egoism
  • Evil as corruption of the good, and essential to understanding the good
  • Creation narratives and their implications concerning justice
  • Guilt/failure, salvation, & redemption
  • Envisioning heaven and hell as final justice
  • Coping with the problems of evil and suffering
  • Exemplifying Augustine’s two cities
  • (from aesthetics) Music as theological world projection
  • (from aesthetics) Music as referential tool for enculturation (relative to justice)
  • (from aesthetics) Music as encounter with the Good and the Beautiful

Submission Guidelines:

If interested, submit an abstract of 300-700 words, along with CV or resumé, to Jeremy Scarbrough at by November 15, 2019.  Notifications of acceptance will be delivered in December.

If accepted, the submission deadline for final drafts of all chapters is May 15, 2020.  Any editorial revisions (if necessary) will be completed by June 30.  The delivery date for the full manuscript is November 1, 2020.

About the editor:

Jeremy E. Scarbrough holds a Ph.D. in Music (emphasis in philosophy), an MA in Christian Apologetics, an MA in Theological Studies, a Master of Music Education, and a BA in Music. He has taught music and philosophy at the high school and undergraduate levels. He also founded the Ole Miss chapter of Ratio Christi, where he taught Christian apologetics. Dr. Scarbrough currently resides in Tampa, Florida with his wife and two children. He serves as Instructor of Philosophy, specializing in Moral Philosophy, for Pasco-Hernando State College. His research emphasizes interdisciplinary connections between philosophy, theology, pop-culture worldviews, and the arts.  He has contributed to other volumes published by Lexington Books, including: Music, Theology, and Justice (2017)& Theology the Marvel Universe(2020).


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