RRB Photobooks and The Hyman Collection are pleased to present Fairy Tales and Photography, or, Another look at Cinderella, a facsimile of Jo Spence's masterful BA thesis. Written in 1982, the thesis will be published in full for the first time this December. The thesis has been faithfully reproduced and bound in luxurious red cloth. It is accompanied by sister publication Class Slippers by Frances Hatherley, with a preface by Marina Warner.
"In Fairytales and Photography. Or, Another Look at Cinderella we are invited to take a look at the ambitious and wayward 1982 BA dissertation of the cultural worker and photographer Jo Spence. She asks ‘How do we take a story like Cinderella out of the archives, off the bookshelves, out of the retail stores and attempt to prise out its latent class content? Its political and social uses?’ Her chosen approach draws on her politics as a socialist feminist to inform her enquiry, untangling the interconnected gender and class oppressions in these historic tales.
"This dissertation brings together subjects, both personal and political, that she grappled with throughout her life: social class, family histories, sexuality, representation of women and visual ideologies. Her work drew on her own lived experience of being a woman from a working-class background, her battles with cancer, mental health, education and her family history, but throughout she was always socially minded, with an eye on the structures of power that shape our lives.
This is the first time the thesis has been published in full. It is in these pages that her career’s key concerns jump off the page and the seeds of later work are sown, that her previously free-floating discomfort and distrust around societal norms and patterns become crystallised into powerful arguments that go on to mobilise future projects. In this funny, scrappy, smart and insightful work, we are encouraged to take another look at Cinderella – and once we have, fairytales will never look the same again." - Frances Hatherley