The Brilliant Club, a group of students from Y7 and Y8, have been enjoying a number of seminar style sessions, from a Literature tutor, Princess Bywanya from Newcastle University.  During these sessions in the Autumn Term they learnt about feminist literary theory and Horace’s theory of literature.  This knowledge was then applied to one of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes about Little Red Riding Hood.  Their final essay submission was titled: ‘Critically evaluate either Cinderella or Red Riding Hood using Marxist, Feminist or Horace’s theory in English literature‘ and the students rose to the challenge drafting and re-drafting their ideas until submission day. The following excerpts are from a couple of the students’ final essays:

In the classic version, the wolf can be associated with evil; Little Red Riding Hood can be related to a damsel in distress, as she needs rescuing and is quite helpless compared with other characters. Also, the woodcutter who frees Little Red Riding is perceived as a father figure, as in many variations, the father of Little Red Riding Hood is often not present. The woodcutter is seen like this as he performs all the fatherly acts: he rescues the less powerful characters and protects the women (2). However, in Dahl’s variation, it is the opposite end of the spectrum. Little Red Riding Hood is now more of an independent woman with a fresh dose of superior intellect, so she can be compared with the hero.

In conclusion, Roald Dahl’s version of Little Red Riding Hood is a new more modern look at a strong more independent Red which is more appropriate to the modern era whereas the original is a lot more sexist. The new Little Red Riding Hood will give a less defenceless view of women and a more independent and strong one. Also, in the original she wore a red cloak which portrays that she is innocent and not harmful however Roald Dahl has her wearing a wolf. Roald Dahl’s version teaches us a strong lesson on how women are strong and can be independent no matter of stereotypes. In Roald Dahl’s version we can interpret that he is telling us that we cannot think women as harmless as they actually pose a threat.

The students attended a graduation ceremony at Durham University at the end of January.  Here they experienced a campus tour with the opportunity to question a Year 2 Law undergraduate, engaged in a study skills sessions and thoroughly enjoyed their certification ceremony.  It was a proud moment for the students, parents and staff.  Ms Bell has been organising and supporting The Brilliant Club and there are plans to continue working with these students, expand the group and to look at developing extended project ideas.