From University offering crash course in 'Cinderella' by Becky Wright:
Weber State University is offering a Cinderella Ph.D. course. It's not a comprehensive program teaching the arts of fireplace cleaning, the language of mice, and ballroom dancing. It's a deeper look at a fairy tale that crosses time and culture.
"Cinderella Ph.D." is one of the sessions at this year's Weber State University Storytelling Festival. The crash course is at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Hetzel-Hoellein Room of the Stewart Library, on WSU's Ogden campus at 3848 Harrison Blvd. Admission is free.
The four doctorate holders conducting the class are Jean Andra Miller, who retired from WSU as a professor of French studies, and professors Kathleen Herndon, Eric Amsel and Rosemary Conover.
"It's not just a superficial story for children," said Herndon, chairwoman of WSU's English department, about the story of Cinderella. "It does seem to have some interesting insights about human nature, and the steps and stages we go through in a lifetime."
There are more than 1,500 versions of the story from around the world. Herndon herself has a collection of about 30 Cinderella tales set in different places and times.
The overall story has universal themes and symbols, Conover says, and each culture puts its own stamp on the tale.
Footwear is one of the symbols in almost every version -- which she suggests may be related to the theme of social mobility. The shoe material is glass in some versions, and gold or leather in others.
"These details offer intriguing little insights into the cultures that spawned those versions," said Conover, from the university's anthropology department.
The slipper is glass in the French version.
"I think by that time the French had perfected glassmaking, and understood its special, malleable consistencies," Conover said, noting that glass can be shaped, then hardens. "It had to not bend to any other foot but the one it was made for. ... It became something only one person could possibly fit into."
Amsel, a psychology professor, looks at the story as a tale of adolescence.
"I think the point of the story is transformation of a child to an adult," he said. "It's the story of an adolescent girl in a dysfunctional relationship with her family, who experiences the blossoming of love and passion, and I'm afraid that isn't an unusual situation for adolescents."
Teens struggle with new roles and relationships as they try to find their place in adult society. That can lead to fights with parents, including stepparents.
"It's very easy to get caught up in sort of seeing an adolescent as an adversary, as a parent," said Amsel, "It helps if you understand that the fights you're having over rooms, clothes, and this and that, is really a negotiation of when someone earns the right ... to make their own decisions."
Anyway, a good article and an interesting event. To learn more about the festival itself, go to ‘Williams Tell’ Annual Storytelling Festival.