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English Extension - Complex Transformation and Defense

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Robert Hill

on 11 June 2014

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Transcript of English Extension - Complex Transformation and Defense

The Original Fairy Tale
Hansel and Gretel
New Light Through Old Windows:

What this presentation will cover:
Justification of my complex transformation
(Court Transcript from Consent for Court Orders)
How I created the new
invited reading
and positioned an
alternative reading/interpretation
Defense
of my
writing practices
and
theoretical underpinnings
Hansel and Gretel
General Overview of Base Text
General Introduction
As a base text, Hansel and Gretel attempted to promote the patriarchal or 'nuclear family'.
This family structure consisted of the
dominant
father,
passive
mother and inexperienced / lacking in worldly experience children.
The male/female binary code was dictated by primitive genetic research and ingrained societal beliefs of the time (fairy tale published in 1812)
The
invited reading
of the text is one where
'non-conformist' women lead to the inevitable breakdown of the 'traditional family'
Hansel and Gretel, is the story of a poor woodcutter, his step-wife and his two children. They live within the depths of a desolate forest, and only just scrape by on the father's measly wage earned from cutting down trees. One day, the husband returns home and his step-wife tells him of a plan to leave their young children, Hansel and Gretel, in the forest, so that they can save food and money - less mouths to feed. After initially arguing, the father eventually gives in and they decide to undertake the plan the next day. After overhearing of his mother's plan, Hansel decides to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to allow him and his sister to find their way home. After leading the children out into the forest to rest by the fire, the mother and father leave.
By: Robert Hill
English Extension - Complex Transformation and Defense
General Overview of Base Text Continued.
They wake up as darkness has fallen, and finding themselves alone, stumble blindly through the wood looking for a way home. Suddenly, they spot a house made of gingerbread. After tasting it, a strange witch-like old lady suddenly emerges and offers for them to come inside for dinner. However, the witch had tricked the children and was waiting for them to fall asleep, so she could bake them in her magic oven, which would turn them into gingerbread. When the morning came around, the witch commanded Gretel to wake and help her cook Hansel. After fooling the witch, Gretel pushes her into her own oven and closes the door, turning her into gingerbread. She frees Hansel, they both discover a chest full of jewels and leave for home. On arriving, the find that there stepmother has left and they live happily ever after with their father.
Feminine Phase of Literature
Early 1800's
"...where women wrote in an effort to imitate the dominant male traditions..."
Saussure
"...[because] text is understood through binaries, [it is] defined by linguistic, historical, political and religious aspects..."
Overall Text Construction and Invited Reading
Western 'Seminal Reason'
Unified, present and central to itself
There is always an 'overall truth' of signs
Produces the first term, man, then anything else that follows that - female
Hansel and Gretel has simply inverted these binaries, creating the 'evil stepmother' to prove the detrimental effects of resisting these 'naturalised' binaries
What is a 'normal'
family in modern
society?
More importantly, how does my complex transformation aim to erode the male/female binary for a modern reader?
Alternative Family Structures
Contrary to the hegemonic belief (patriarchy) promoted through Hansel and Gretel, alternative family structures are not:

"...factories, which produce human personalities, [rather they are] a multifunctional institution which is indispensable to society..."
Brief Overview of Matriarchy
How does my complex transformation deal with this patriarchy/matriarchy binary?
Gender roles
are
open to evolution or change
Alternative family structures promote growth through:
education
physical state
intellectual development
Family is more than just a pre-set system of what is 'right' or 'wrong' - it is in fact up to the members of the family to
see what works for them
Patriarchy
vs. Matriarchy?

Why is the man always privileged?
In Hansel and Gretel, the ideological subtext is one where the family
'cannot function'
without a dominant man at the head of the household.

However, this idea is fundamentally rejected by Derrida in his text,
Of Grammatology
, when he states:

"...an opposition of a binary cannot be hierarchised in either direction without 'violence'..."
How is this relevant & used by my Complex Transformation?
By acknowledging Derrida's concept of a violent hierarchy, a modern FPDF approach to deconstructing literature acknowledges that gender-based signs and binaries cannot be logocentrically defined:

Logocentric
-
regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality
My Complex Transformation
FPDF - Feminist Post-Structuralist Approach
Rather than taking a ‘critical’ approach to discourse analysis, FPDA draws upon post-structuralist principles to show the diversity, ambiguity, fluidity, inter-textuality and complexity of social interaction. The ‘feminist’ part of FPDA considers ‘gender difference’ to be a dominant discourse among other discourses when analysing all types of text.
Roles of the Family: George Murdock:
My complex transformation rejects this through an oppositional reading to uncover
silenced perspective, gaps and ideological subversion

Defined under parameters of:
sexual
reproductive
economic
educational
Thus, in embracing these ideals shows the intrinsic sexist portrayal shows the
nuclear family
to be favoured

Example:
Why is the stepmother so
self-motivated?
Why does she propose the abandonment of her children as a
viable option?
Does this mean she is
intrinsically evil?
In essence, no...
The text deliberately silences the female perspective in an attempt to paint them as the 'evil conspirators' of the situation.

My complex transformation aims to fill these gaps left intentionally blank by the base text, by detailing the events preceding this decision...
This is done through:
Foucault's Theory of Polyvalence:
Specifically, by acknowledging that,

"...discourse helps to create consciousness and account for behavioral norms - what is 'right' and 'wrong'..."

My Complex Transformation:
A change in genre shows a very different outcome and shows that the typical 'patriarchal society' is fundamentally oppressive toward women
NO family structure is 'best'

The changing of genre shows
the positive benefits and
negative detriments of all families

The reader should have their own personal interpretation of the text
Kristeva:
"...feminist discourse does not identify the biologically orientated of either man or woman as being the origin of their meaning or identity..."
What she means by this is that women can be 'trapped' in a gender based role - only within the familial sphere.

Thus, by showing that meaning cannot simply be imposed upon a gender because of their 'natural roles' within society, the 'working father'/'housewife' binary has been thoroughly smashed
But there's more...
My complex transformation promotes an 'essentialist' reading - basically focusing on fundamental and enduring differences between the sexes and offering critiques of male-centered norms
The environment differs to the base text & this contributes to the changing of the invited reading:
for instance, the neutrality of the courtroom allows the prior circumstances preceding the events to be centered, not marginalised.
this shows that
gender-based meaning is fixed within the said discourse


How does my complex transformation link back to this idea?
Fills the deliberately left gaps with information that provokes the reader to arrive at a conclusion that differs from the original invited reading
By altering the discourse, it has made the status within the marital status
equal
Shows the bias that is inherent with the texts' portrayal of the fate that befalls nonconformist men vs. women
Shows story through a neutral lens and shows the benefits of alternative family structures
Social Policy
Education
Media
all manipulate meaning
conceal biases and stipulate 'suitable' content
By inscribing a neutral mediator (judge), within a neutral environment (courtroom), a socially produced meaning - subject to change - allows readers to generate their own meaning without the dominant hegemonic discourse
Conclusion:
In essence, my re-writing of Hansel and Gretel attempts to:

"...re-evaluate and reshape literary canons...[while] refusing the accepted body of theory to overly politicise the domain of discursive practise..." (Irigaray, Cited In. Barry)

So, in summary, my Complex Transformation has:

Removed
ingrained societal binaries and oppositions
and replaced it with a more
balanced family structure
that accepts
dual-parent responsibility
within any family structure chosen (i.e. alternative to the nuclear family)
Changed the
genre/discourse
to an
excerpt for Child Custody
which has re-framed the maternal instincts of women and their function within society to been shown as beneficial (socially and economically) - showing a
new 'neutrality' between genders
Confronted signs and their connoted signifiers
within the base text to
subvert
the original
patriarchal invited reading
and replace the
identification of 'family'
, as one of personal choice, not as a socially stipulated value system
Idea: 'Wholes' and 'Holes'
As a 'whole' Hansel and Gretel is identified through a
phallocentric lens
(making the male dominant and central)
But what does this quote
really
mean?
My complex transformation aimed to change this ideal promoted within the text - tearing 'holes' within the existing literary fabric:
to create a new discourse where women 'un-censor' themselves from male dominance
showing the woman independently lodging an appeal
out of concern for her children & she is shown to be successful in doing so

WOMEN CAN FUNCTION IN SOCIETY OUTSIDE OF THE FAMILY HOME!
The original base text exemplified this quote perfectly...
"...the only good woman is a dead woman...and she has only one real function; motherhood..." (Atwood, 1993)
So what does my complex transformation do to distil this 'grand narrative'?
By keeping the idea of dual-parent responsibility from the base text, but placing more emphasis on the negative personal aspects of both parties prior to the event, which ultimately dictate the outcome of the court.

The children have gone from being the marginalised to centered within my modern re-writing, showing that the family is not a faultless, well-oiled functioning machine, but a complex web of interrelations which are influenced by the social and historical context.
In addition to this...
Hansel and Gretel functions overall in accordance with one of
Booker's 7 Grand Narratives
- Overcoming the Beast / Monster

Within Hansel and Gretel, this signified 'monster' is the stepmother.

This is due to her 'immoral' decisions and her inability to successfully raise a family while her husband is away.


Booker touches on this ideas when he says that to overcome these issues 9the stepmother) as somewhat liberated from a 'tyrannical oppressor
Thanks for listening
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