Representation of Women / Fairytale Motifs

Representation of Women / Fairytale Motifs

Representation of women / Fairytale motifs

Na Li (English)

‘Chinese New Women Writers’ Interpretation of the Self (1912-1949)’

The collection of the Chinese New Woman literature in fact can be seen as a reflection of Chinese New Women writers’ understanding of the Self as well as their literary exploration to discover, define, establish, and defend their equal rights as men both within and beyond the family boundaries. Through analyzing the Chinese New Women writers’ different types of literary creation, including autobiographic writings, short stories and essays, it is not difficult to discover that in order to present their own interpretation of the Self, the Chinese New Women writers created many multi-faceted male and female characters with distinct personalities. Using their own stories, these characters provided answers to the Chinese version of “Women Questions” in the certain historical, cultural, and social background of Republican China (1912-1949). Through close reading of the characters, especially the New Women characters in the Chinese New Women writers’ literary creation, this paper will examine how the Chinese New Women writers defined themselves, how they viewed the world around them and how they explored the Self from the aspect of personal development and relationship within family.

Katherine Newstead (Film Studies)

‘Time Trials: The Ageing Female Body in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ (Sanders, 2012)’

The fairy tale's focus on young female protagonists inevitably forces us to look at the relationship between these girls and their mother figures; i.e. the wicked stepmother, rendering the ageing female body visible. This form provides a safe, fantastical, timeless space for examining ageing, and is unafraid to suggest that it is a grotesque and terrifying process.

Using the contemporary cinematic version of Snow White, Snow White and the Huntsman (Sanders, 2012) as a unique example of visually portraying the mother versus daughter dynamic, I will posit that the tensions between these women are a result of psychological anxieties surrounding ageing, and its effects on the body. I will argue that a physical battle between Snow White and her stepmother, Ravenna, is symbolic of a daughter's fears of becoming an older woman like her mother, while a mother is reminded of her own ageing by her daughter's maturity and independence. Ravenna's reluctance to accept her ageing, and the measures she employs to prevent her body's decline, means she exists outside the laws of time, while deviating from society's expectations of her as an older woman. Consequently, this film not only reifies an intergenerational battle across time, but a battle against time.

Karrie Ann Groben (Film Studies)

‘Dark Signs of Enchantment: Exploring Iconographical Objects in the Cinematic Fairy Tale Reboot’

This paper explores the way certain iconographic objects common to ‘classical’ fairytale narratives function cinematically to form a visual and symbolic ‘language’ of signs. Focusing on recent adaptations, versions or ‘reboots’ of fairytales, and drawing on the narrative function of objects in cinema traditionally addressed to female audiences, this paper will analyse how ‘magical’ objects such as Bluebeard’s key, Red Riding Hood’s cape or Cinderella’s shoe, produce complex ‘fairy tale’ associations even when divorced from their originary narratives.

This paper explores whether such objects can equally engender a fairy tale ‘aesthetic’/’mise-en-scène in a ‘straight’ fairy tale reboot or a narrative otherwise grounded in realism. Beyond signaling an adaptation at work, how does the filmic fairytalemise-en-scène challenge, reiterate or reinvent the implications of the glass coffin or the poison apple, in contemporary postfeminist contexts?

Ultimately this paper will demonstrate that the objects which make up a fairy tale mise-en-scène create a fantastical space in which taboo subjects are able to be tackled but are simultaneously ‘cloaked’ or softened by a stylized, magical mise-en-scène that makes such moments problematically visually palatable. This, in a selection of films not limited to: Red Riding Hood (Hardwicke, 2011), Kinky Boots (Jarrold, 2005), Pan’s Labyrinth (del Toro, 2009) and Sleeping Beauty (Leigh, 2011).