As I have started research for a dissertation chapter on “Little Red Riding Hood” (LRRH), I was once more struck by the sheer amount of LRRH material that exists in and outside academia. From short stories to novels to t.v./movies and comics/graphic novels, LRRH has to be one of the most prolific and culturally-embedded fairy or folktales. Because of this, I think that it would not only be possible, but extremely interesting, to structure a course around this figure.
I haven’t decided if this would perhaps be better for an upper-level or lower-level literature course, but I suppose it is no narrower a theme than the femme fatale, which was a success in Intro to Fiction and Writing. And to be honest, the narrow theme seemed to work quite well for the introductory class, as it focused students attention on two figures, that of the femme fatale and that of the detective, giving them automatic direction as they read and began to analyze texts.
One issue that arose with the femme fatale was a lack of scholarly research that could be readily understood and applied by students who were just learning how to deal with secondary sources. But this is the opposite of the case with LRRH, as there is a plethora of academic secondary sources for both novices and experts in the field. Plus, because LRRH is already known to (can I say?) all students, there is a greater chance for them to succeed in understanding the scholarship.
Moreover, to address concerns of student interest, LRRH offers the instructor the opportunity to not only discuss fairy tales and children’s literature (the story has, after all, been rewritten numerous times for various audiences of various cultural backgrounds), but also the ability to move into werewolf fiction, thanks to authors like Angela Carter and scholarship that offers werewolf legends as the origin of the tale. In this way, such a topic is similar to that of the femme fatale, which crossed into the supernatural as well through the figure of the vampiress. LRRH also offers a similar avenue to discuss my interest in gender, as scholars argue that the tale’s original purpose was to control female bodies and female sexuality.
So while my obsession with Marvelous Transformations continues, my LRRH research has opened the door to what I think would make an excellent literature course, for both beginning and more advanced literature courses.