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American McGee’s ‘Alice: Madness Returns’ Special Issue of the Lewis Carroll Review now available online

By popular demand the Lewis Carroll Review Special Issue on American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns from 2011 has been made available online (all free and open access!). I hope it will be of use to researchers and enthusiasts alike!

The issue contains not only a review of the game and accompanying art book, but also an exclusive 8-page long interview (conducted by me, over curry, in London 2011), in which McGee provides some great insights into the creative process of the game design and artwork. and touches on Neo-Victorianism, Post-Colonialism, Fashion Design, History of Psychology – so I hope the text be of interest to researchers in video game studies, digital storytelling, the Gothic, Horror, and Fantasy, and of course scholars of Lewis Carroll’s Alice – and its afterlife. 

Download a copy here, on my Publications page, or via my profile – and if you’re interested in American’s new work on the Alice: Asylum franchise, make sure you follow his Patreon, too!

alice madness returns review special issue

Lewis Carroll Review Special Issue on American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns

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New TV series on famous books & their stories

A new series of TV documentaries on famous books and their origins, manuscripts and authors will be hitting the screens in early 2020 – and last week we started filming for the first episode in Oxford, which is about the origins of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – and some, perhaps unexpected, links and sources (including what the University of Oxford’s crest has to do with Alice’s dream)! I am extremely honoured to appear on it as expert alongside collector and Carroll scholar extraordinaire Edward Wakeling.

The documentary will be available on French and German Television, and online after it’s aired, for those elsewhere! I will keep you posted on broadcast dates, and where to catch up with the programme, once I know more – stay tuned!

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Children’s Literature & Ecology panel at ‘Extinctions & Rebellions’ Symposium

Just in time for the start of Extinction Rebellion’s Autumn Rebellion, our panel on Children’s Literature and Ecology has been accepted for the “Extinctions and Rebellions” Symposium at the University of Liverpool on the 16th of November.

The panel will fathom the multi-faceted role of Children’s and Young Adult Literature in addressing, digesting and communicating climate crisis across a range of periods and texts.

I will be presenting a paper entitled ‘Of Moths, Chimney-Sweepers and Silent Springs’, in which I will engage with how narrative forms for, or associated with, children have been used to articulate aspects of climate crisis and biodiversity loss, focusing on the example of insects, from the Victorian age to today. Framing this through Environmental Psychology, I will then examine their effectiveness in changing individual and social outlooks on crisis, but also their shortcomings, to show how we can harness their techniques in communicating better in our current moment of crisis.

I will speak alongside Dr Emily Alder (Edinburgh Napier) and Dr Chloe Buckley (Manchester Metropolitan), who will explore ‘Environmental crisis and children’s picture books’ and ‘Weird Ecologies, Precarity and Care in Young Adult Fiction’ respectively. We will be representing part of the ongoing work of the Edinburgh Napier-based Children’s Literature and Science research group.

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Gothic & Fantasy ECR Writing Buddy Group

A new writing group for Gothic & Fantasy ECR scholars & writers has been summoned into life by Dr Karen Graham & myself this week to bring together those of us who in the flurry of daily Stuff™ sometimes find it hard to find the space/time to write, which can also be a rather isolated/isolating exercise.

How’s this going to work? The idea is to post in the group & pair up with one or more buddy, and find a regular time-slot (anything from an hour, an hour-and a half or a writing day) to come together to write (and work on anything writing-related: be it an article, a journalistic piece, or a book). Next, arrange a quick meeting (in person, or via Skype) at the beginning, in which you set out writing goals, have your writing slot (60-90 mins), followed by, a) a quick break, and another session, or b) quick debrief at the end, where you reflect on, and evaluate progress, and set new goals – or even arrange for a subsequent swap-work-and-give-feedback session before your next writing session. I will also provide some guidance for structuring writing sessions or organise longer writing events, such as a writing retreat.

So, join, post in the group, say what you’re working on, and what sort of time-slot/regularity you’re after, connect with a buddy – and off you go! And please share!


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‘Timeless Alice’ – Free Public Lecture at Bodleian Library, Oxford

If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting IT!

I am thrilled to have been invited to give a free lecture at Oxford’s Bodleian Library entitled “Timeless Alice: From the fourth dimension to climate change” on the 6th of July.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland remains popular, indeed “timeless” – but what does this really mean? Follow Alice on a journey through Lewis Carroll’s contemplation of time, in an age of railways and theories of the fourth dimensions, and find out why that, to this day makes Carroll’s most famous novel the perfect vehicle for modern scientists to explain complex phenomena such as quantum physics, climate change and the unconscious.


I will be joining three fantastic speakers on the day:

  • 10am: Alice’s Nightmare in Wonderland: an innovative adventure gamebook with a dangerous twist – Jon Green
  • 11am: Alice in Guinness-time: a 1960s’ advertising campaign using Lewis Carroll’s characters – Brian Sibley
  • 1pm: Alice in Fashion-land: over a century of changing trends and designs inspired by Wonderland  – Kiera Vaclavik
  • 2pm: Timeless Alice: From the fourth dimension to climate change – Franziska Kohlt

The talks are free, and will take place at the Lecture Hall of the Weston Library – seats are limited, though, so better arrive in time!


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Children’s Literature and Science Seminar at Edinburgh

This phenomenal-looking seminar on Children’s Literature and Science, and the many facets of the field, will be taking place this Friday at Edinburgh Napier University. I will be giving my first paper on my new research project on children’s literature and its role in environmentalism. If you’d like to attend please contact – and definitely watch this space for more on this field from Edinburgh in the future!

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IRSCL Panel ‘The Silence of Nature: Children’s Literature and Science’

The biannual IRSCL conference “Silence and Silencing in Children’s Literature” will take place at the University of Stockholm in August, and I am pleased that our panel on Children’s Literature and Science has just been accepted! It will cover ground from Morris to Moomins – and contain the following papers:

– Franziska Kohlt “Conversations with beetles: The struggle against Nature’s Silence in Victorian and contemporary CliFi for children
– Jenny Willner “Cell biology and Melancholy in the Moomin Valley: Homsan, Haeckel and the Life of Protozoa”
– Vera Kaulbarsch “Silence, Ghosts and Nature in Walter Benjamin’s Texts on Childhood”

Hope to see some of you there!

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