Browsing English literature by Subjects
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The material culture of Cinderella: introducing the Cinderella CollectionIn August 2012 the University of Bedfordshire was given a collection of items all about Cinderella. It was one person’s collection, gathered over a number of years in the 1990s and is an example of a fascination with the fairy tale and its retellings in our culture. It is housed at our library in Bedford and shares its archival lodging with the much larger Hockliffe collection of rare primers, readers and children’s books that was donated by a specialist bookseller from the town. On the open shelves in this cool room are the books and along side are the archive boxes with the objet and ephemera. There are cuttings, tins, jigsaws, souvenir programmes, figurines, and porcelain collectables. Each are not necessarily unique in themselves, but as a collection it is intriguing. It offers unusual insights into the range of discourses and disciplines that claim the tale of Cinderella. Through insights into the Special Collection of Cinderella material its archiving and display at the University of Bedfordshire, this chapter will examine the material culture surrounding Cinderella from the nineteenth and twentieth century. The Collection opens up the varied range of adaptation and performance that the story has inspired, containing materials ranging from opera and ballet programmes, books and theatre models, to collectable figurines, toys and merchandise. This chapter takes a perspective from publishing studies and delves into the different market sectors in the Collection such as folklore, psychology, education, self help, fiction, illustration and women’s studies. Opening the covers of these volumes it explores the tales of personal transformation as they have been reinscribed in modern retellings.
Retelling Cinderella: cultural and creative transformationsCinderella’s transformation from a lowly, overlooked servant into a princess who attracts everyone’s gaze has become a powerful trope within many cultures. Inspired by the Cinderella archive of books, objet and collectables at the University of Bedfordshire, the essays in this collection demonstrate how the story remains active in many different societies where social and family relationships are adapting to modern culture. It explores the social arenas of dating apps, prom nights, as well as contemporary issues about women’s roles in the home, and gender identity. Cinderella’s cultural translation is seen through the contributors’ international perspectives: from Irish folk lore to the Columbian Cenicienta costeña (Cinderella of the coast) and Spanish literary history. Its transdisciplinarity ranges from fashion in Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm’s publications to a comparison of Cinderella and Galatea on film, and essays on British authors Nancy Spain, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Women, suffrage, and Clemence Dane: a game of speculationClemence Dane (1888-1965) was one of the newly enfranchised women eligible to vote for the first time under the suffrage act of 1918. An articulate novelist, actress and sculptor, her writings and speeches about women for magazines and the radio give us an insight into some of the complexities that faced women as they formed opinions on topical issues in the political sphere. In 1926 she collected those articles in a volume putting, as she phrased it, The Women’s Side. In this chapter I look at Dane’s explorations of The Women Question in her 1926 collection The Women’s Side, and in her own novel Legend (1919) her plays Wild Decembers (1932) about the Brontë family and Bill of Divorcement (1921) which can be read as a reflection on the story of Jane Eyre. Her imaginative talent was stimulated by the gaps in biography where the historian had to give ground to the creative artist and she drew on the licence of the actress in the interpretative performance of a personal story to create a narrative of women’s genius. Dane’s adopts the popular card game “Speculation” from Austen's Mansfield Park as a trope to explore the tensions and stresses for women as they left the familiar and expected conventions of Victorian womanhood and took up an uncertain and contested new role in society.