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20 November 2023 - 20 November 2023

6:00PM - 7:00PM

Tom Percival Annex, Parson's Field, St Cuthbert's Society

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IAS Fellows' Public Lecture by Dr Diana Johns (University of Melbourne)

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Image courtesy of Jub Job (iStock)


The story is familiar: a little girl walks through the forest to visit her sick grandmother. On the way a wolf tricks the little girl, eats the grandmother and then pretends to be her. After the infamous exchange that starts with ‘Granny, what big eyes you have’, the wolf also devours the girl. In the Brothers Grimm version, a passing hunter/woodsman saves the day by cutting open the wolf and freeing the girl and the old woman. This story (in its various iterations) communicates a range of messages about good and evil, ‘stranger danger’, consequences, and ‘staying on the path’. But is there another way of thinking about – or thinking with – folktales and fairy stories like Little Red Riding Hood? Dr Diana Johns explores the role of myth and storytelling in understanding how we imagine – and might reimagine – our systems of youth justice. She considers, firstly, how we come to accept as ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ a ‘justice’ system that often brutalises our most disenfranchised young people. Secondly, how we might come to think otherwise about how we respond to children and young people who cause harm to themselves and others. What might it take to re-story our most time-honoured myths?

This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person.

Please note, the venue of this lecture is at St Cuthbert Society's Parson's Field site (See map)

Durham map showing St Cuthberts' Society locations