‘Alice in Wonderland & Science’ video for University of Oxford campaign

In August I was extremely excited to be invited to shoot a little image film about my work on Victorian fantasy literature and science at Christ Church, Oxford. Christ Church kindly let me use some of Lewis Carroll’s own manuscript materials from their collection (have a look at some of their digitised items here) – including his photographs, proofs, sketches, letters, and his dedicated presentation copy of a first edition copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! I also speak about Victorian children’s literature’s ties to Victorian Science Communication & Education, about Victorian Lunatic Asylums – and Charles Dickens’s visit to one – and how all of that can change how we think about Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature in general – I hope you like it!  

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Railways, biodiversity, agricultural history and…Through the Looking-Glass?

On the 25th of November I will be giving a talk at the Abingdon Arms, Beckley, just outside Oxford.

The occasion is not only that the award-winning Pub overlooks Otmoor, the nature reserve which some believe may have inspired Lewis Carroll’s chessboard landscape in Through the Looking-Glass (I will investigate this claim), but also the planned resurrection of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway through this area of scientific interest, which is noted especially for its biodiversity by the RSPB.

Oxford is well-known to have inspired Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), but the extensive influence of the Oxfordshire countryside on Through The Looking-Glass (1871) is less frequently discussed. My talk will therefore not only uncover some of these inspirations, from Oxford’s architecture to Oxfordshire’s agricultural history, but also illuminate how Lewis Carroll’s wider interest in nature, science and industry – and thus also the railways – shaped Through the Looking-Glass, and explore how this can help us approach and rethink contemporary challenges posed to the balance between nature and the necessities of modern life. (Announcements for the talk have appeared also here and here)

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The Looking-Glass countryside, John Tenniel

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‘Frankenstein and Beyond’ at the Birmingham Literature Festival

On the occasion of the bicentenary of Frankenstein I will be discussing our fascination with Gothic tales at the Birmingham Literature Festival together with contemporary Gothic and Horror writers Andrew Michael Hurley (The Loney and Devil’s Day) and Jess Kidd (The Hoarder) who will also discuss and read from their latest books. The session will be chaired by Dr Serena Trowbridge.

The event has now sold out, but watch the facebook event page for further updates.

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BBC Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’ on Automata

I will be speaking about automata in the history of science and psychology, literature and popular culture alongside Simon Schaffer and Elly Truitt on BBC4’s ‘In Our Time’ program with Melvyn Bragg on 20 Septemeber 2018. The broadcast will be available afterwards on iPlayer. If you haven’t seen Compton Verney’s Marvellous Mechanical Museum yet, you should definitely go – and get the wonderful book accompanying the exhibition.

 

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The Marvellous Mechanical Museum – Talk at Compton Verney Exhibition

EDIT: This talk is now happening on Wednesday, 26th September 2018, 2:30-3:30pm!

I’m very excited to be giving a talk on ‘Automata in Literature and Culture’, fathoming the literary and psychological depths of our fascination with automata through history at  The Marvellous Mechanical Museum exhibition, for which I acted as a consultant, at Compton VerneyLancelot ‘Capability’ Brown‘s former abode. With Greek Mythology, Frankenstein, Rowland Emmet (and possibly even LEGO), there’s definitely going to be something for everybody! Tickets include entry to the exhibition (which you must see!).

 

PS: Don’t miss out on the gorgeous book accompanying the exhibition for which I wrote an essay!

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Oxford Graduate Studies Video Interview

Earlier this week I was privileged to be interviewed about my doctoral research for a new video for the Oxford Grad Study Campaign. For this I was thrilled to return to Christ Church Library (thanks so much to Steven & Cristina for arranging everything on the day!), to introduce some items from their Lewis Carroll Collection, which included early sketches by Carroll for the characters in Alice in Wonderland, proof pages, as well as the presentation first edition copy of Alice to the college library, some of Carroll’s original photographs and letters (click through the Instagram gallery to see a few of those items) – what a memorable day!

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TRT documentary on Alice in Wonderland adaptations now online

Last week I appeared live on TRT Showcase about adaptations of Alice in Wonderland together with author and fellow Carrollian Charlie Lovett. We spoke about our most fascinating finds in researching Lewis Carroll, early Alice theatre adaptations, Carroll’s library and real mad tea parties – have a look!

 

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