'Taking on Tradition: Coming of Age and Conformity in "Dead Poets Society"'

Zoe Wallin

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Beloved by students and frequently disparaged by teachers, 'Dead Poets Society' (Peter Weir, 1989) continues to resonate with new generations of viewers. This is surprising, given the narrowness of the film's milieu: an elite 1950s American boarding school populated by privileged white boys. Yet, the romanticised themes of adolescent nonconformity and the development of individual identity, the performances by Robin Williams and the ensemble cast (which include Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard in early screen roles) and director Weir's sensitive handling of the material mean that, for young viewers, the film holds riches beyond blinkered nostalgia.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationScreen Education
PublisherAustralian Teachers of Media
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Dead Poets Society (Motion picture)
  • Motion picture film
  • Storytelling
  • Weir, Peter, 1944-
  • Motion picture producers and directors


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