I will be giving several public talks this summer, ranging from Alice in Wonderland and asylums, to psychology in Victorian fantastic literature, the psychology and sociology of recently rediscovered Arts and Crafts objects, insect metamorphoses and morality tales for children, and Automata, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Frankenstein. If you’re nearby, come and say hi!
- “‘More than a figment of scientific fancy’: Redefining the Victorian fantastic through the history of science”, Scholars’ Forum on Literature and the History of Science, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, 29 June.
- ‘Alice in Psychology-land: Dreams, Asylums and Fantasy’, Alice’s Day, Bodleian Library Oxford, Alice’s Day & Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth Exhibition, 7 July.
- ‘A bug-hunt in Wonderland: the symbolism and science of Alice’s insects and their transformations’, with Christopher Jeffs, ‘Insects Through the Looking Glass‘ Exhibition & Alice’s Day, Story Museum, Oxford, 7 July.
- ‘Pattern, Ecology and the Fantastic Imagination of George MacDonald and William Morris’, British Association for Victorian Studies Conference, University of Exeter, 29-31st August.
- ‘A Common Denominator: Reassessing the Carroll-MacDonald friendship through their science’, Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald: An Influential Friendship, Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, 1 September.
- ‘A Machine as wonderful and complex as Man: Automata in Literature and Culture’, ‘Marvellous Mechanical Museum‘ Exhibition, Compton Verney, 9 September.
- ‘Alice’s Adventures in Oxfordshire: How Oxford inspired the Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland’, Abingdon Arms, Beckley, 25 November.
If you fancy reading more from me, essays of mine will appear in the Journal Of Scottish Thought as well as the exhibition catalogue of the Marvellous Mechanical Museum Exhibition. Don’t miss the Insects Through the Looking-Glass Exhibition at The Story Museum which runs throughout the Royal Entomological Society’s National Insect Week until Alice’s Day!
With support from the Royal Entomological Society you’ll be able to discover the world of literary insects, from mythology to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland novels, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and M.G. Leonard’s Beetle Boy trilogy at Oxford’s Story Museum this summer! The exhibition will be on throughout National Insect Week to Oxford’s annual Alice’s Day, and run parallel to the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth exhibition at the Bodleian Library.
You’ll be able to delve into the history of entomology and the creation of the characters of some of your favourite children’s books, and discover how much we learn about the true biology of insects from them in interactive exhibits supported by the British Society for the History of Science, who have generously awarded us with their Outreach Grant. The exhibition will not only feature real Looking-Glass Insects, but will also be accompanied by numerous events – from live insect handling to school & illustration workshops, and readings my M.G. Leonard herself – as well as a museum trail. On the 23th of June, Dimitra Fimi will talk about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Insects in a lecture entitled ‘Wings, Antennae, and Stings: Tolkien’s Creepy Crawlies’. On the 7th of July – Alice’s Day, and the final day of the exhibition before the Museum closes for refurbishment – there will be a talk entitled ‘A bug-hunt in Wonderland: the symbolism and science of Alice’s insects and their transformations’ by the curators Chris Jeffs & Franziska Kohlt.
List of events:
For the academic side of our project, we will be presenting a panel on Cross-Disciplinary Public Engagement at the Annual Conference of the British Society for Literature and Science (Panel 8B). We will shine a light the different sides of a cross-disciplinary collaboration in a panel discussion with Christopher Jeffs (University of Oxford), research scientist at the Department of Zoology, Luke Tilley (Royal Entomological Society), Deputy CEO and Director of Outreach, Katherine Ford, Science Museum London/ University of Sheffield Libraries Engagement, and Maya Leonard, author of ‘Beetle Boy’ trilogy and ‘Beetle Collectors Handbook’.
To create a future resource for future science communicators and everyone more widely involved in outreach and engagement on the intersections between the sciences and the humanities, we will be conducting a survey on how to create a successful cross-disciplinary outreach event – do participate & share widely!
The Arte documentary for which I was interviewed in December has just been aired, and I’m very excited and grateful for the generous feedback it has received – and the many views! It’s available online, dubbed French and German, until the 12th of May, and can be downloaded here.
I have taken over as editor of The Lewis Carroll Review which not only has a shiny new website, and an updated twitter profile but also a fresh call for reviewers and submissions out! If you are keen on reviewing a recent or forthcoming Carollian publication (a book, an academic article, etc.), or if you are the author of one, please do not hesitate to get in touch! I’m just pulling together my first issue as editor and am very much looking forward to hearing from you!
Find the Lewis Carroll Review & the Lewis Carroll Society on Twitter and Facebook!
Yesterday filming began for a Lewis Carroll documentary for the French/German TV channel Arte which will be aired in March 2018 – I was interviewed as an expert and got to hang out with the Oxford Dodo at the local Natural History Museum out of hours.
The documentary will be broadcast on Arte’s Invitation au Voyage on the 13th of March 16:30, and will be available for 7 days online thereafter.
It’s been a few months since the lovely George MacDonald’s Scotland Conference at Aberdeen University and we’ve been busy since -preparing for transforming our website into a new hub for George MacDonald scholars, with a guide to resources and log of scholars, planning a digitisation project and the publication we announced at the conference, and more (curious? have a look at our website!) – watch this space!
In the mean time, our bursary recipients Adam Walker (Bucknell), Sharin Shroeder (Taipei) and Caroline LaPlue (Aberystwyth) have written about what fascinated them most about the conference – have a look at their blog posts to find out more about the MacDonald archives, Huntly and its connections to MacDonald’s work – and more – all including beautiful photos!
And Tom? Ah, now comes the most wonderful part of this wonderful story. Tom, when he woke, for of course he woke—found himself swimming about in the stream, being about four inches, or—that I may be accurate—3.87902 inches long. In fact, the fairies had turned him into a water-baby.
UPDATE: The talk is now available on youtube – click here to watch!
I’m looking forward to giving a talk at the Heath Robinson Museum’s ‘Visualising the Water-Babies’ exhibition on the 2nd of November 2017.
With a focus on Linley Sambourne’s illustrations, but also including those of W.H. Robinson and Margaret Tarrant, I will look into the encoded messages of the tale’s illustrations, the cultural, scientific and social background they draw on, to illuminate the importance of fantasy in Kingsley’s fairy-tale and its visualizations. Thus, I will also address the question whether or not The Water-Babies is, really, a story for children.