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Perspectives on Peacemaking Identities

Postmodern Thought

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: May 14, 2000
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The Cinderella Story and Postmodernism

Essay by Jeanne Curran and Susan Takata
Part of the Teaching Series
Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan Takata, May 2000. "Fair Use" encouraged.
Sooner or later in Love 1A, we had to encounter the Cinderella Story. Romantic love, Western style. Where does fit in the postmodern context? The question came in this morning from Joanne Goldstein at the University of Tel Aviv, in Israel. I was so intrigued by her project that I thought you might like to set up a process text on this, even though it is the last week of classes. Here's an opportunity for you to share ideas on theory and praxis with a student halfway across the globe.

I have located this on the "peacemaking identity" section of our site because it seems to fit best with Joanne's question of how film affects us, and vice versa. It seems to me that films, like art, like literature, affect us as alternative means of expression that help us reach our "authentic selves," in Michael Planck's terms. In turn, our use of the "selves" we reach in the social construction of our own identities, affect our own input (in terms of our preferences and in terms of our own contributions to later output in the medium). When the theme we investigate is that of love, then we are actually considering the role that love plays in our lives, and love is a fundamental component of the peacemaking identity.

On May 13, 2000, Joanne Goldstein, of the University of Tel Aviv, wrote:

My name is Joanne, I am a first year student at the University of Tel-Aviv IN Israel, one of my courses is in postmodern theory, gender studies. For this class I have to hand in a paper, on well, what ever I want, I have chosen to take a look at how in this day and age of postmodern thought romance is depicted in the cinema. I chose the Film - "Notting Hill". It is a film that shows romance like it has always been shown in the cinema - a' la cinderella. The reason I have given you this awfully long intro is that I am in desperate need of help. I have been searching online for research in this field. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong places. I came across your website and I hoped you had a better handle on the subject. I have to believe that somewhere out there someone other than Eva Illouz has written about the effects of romance in the films have on society and vice versa.

If you could help me I would appreciate it a lot. If not, do you perhaps know in which direction I should be going?
Thank you for you time (and patience)
Joanne Goldstein

On Sunday, May 14, jeanne responded:

Joanne, I don't know precisely where to send you. Maybe Martin Ryder's site, would be a good place to start to look for what you need.

You're asking about love in a postmodern world. The Cinderella theme. And the effects of cinema on all this. From the perspective of one who teaches Love 1A: In the modern world we thought we could "know" love. In the postmodern world, we are asked to listen in good faith to the many voices of love, and to recognize that the Cinderella theme is but one of those voices. It is, perhaps, the most traditional voice in the Western World, for it emphasizes the male as the rescuer, as the provider, and as completely committed to the welfare of "Cinderella." In the postmodern world we hear also the voice of incest, the voice of rape, the voice of paternalistic oppression. Sometimes in the cacophony of these many voices that speak to the "unlucky cinderella," we forget to listen to the voices of love and peace that speak of deeper themes.

My approach, in Love 1A, is to speak of the structural violence of the Western world, and to look for the ways in which violent responses, anger and frustration, can give way to responses that can promote loving and peacemaking identities.

If this helps, I'll be putting up new material on this shortly, and can put it up sooner, if that will help.

Good luck.
love and peace, jeanne