Talk at ‘Visualising the Water-Babies’ at Heath Robinson Museum

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.


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Gillian Beer ‘Off With her Head!’, Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture, 2017

‘Lewis Carroll and Violence’
Professor Dame Gillian Beer

7:00 pm Friday 13 October, The Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT

Lewis Carroll’s worlds of the imagination are places of unexpectedly violent encounters: from the despotic Queen of Hearts terrorising Wonderland with threats of wholesale decapitation to those battling duos beyond the Looking-Glass, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Lion and the Unicorn and the Red and White Knights.

The literary critic and academic, Gillian Beer – whose book, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll, has recently been awarded the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism – is eminently placed to explore this topic in the Lewis Carroll Society’s 11th Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture.

Tickets £10 may be booked on line:

The Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture was inaugurated in 1988 by The Lewis Carroll Society to commemorate the work of the noted biographer and literary scholar, Roger Lancelyn Green, whose books include works on Lewis Carroll, J M Barrie, C S Lewis, Andrew Lang and Rudyard Kipling as well the seminal book on Children’s Literature, Tellers of Tales and many books for young readers retelling classic myths and legends.

Past Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecturers include Sir Jonathan Miller CBE, John Vernon Lord, Colin Ford CBE and Professor Morton N Cohen.

alice queen

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BAVS Funded Bursaries for George MacDonald’s Scotland Conference

We are delighted to announce that The British Association for Victorian Studies is supporting three bursaries, and providing two delegates with travel funding, up to a maximum of £150 for our George MacDonald’s Scotland conference.

George MacDonald's Scotland


We are delighted to announce that The British Association for Victorian Studies is supporting three bursaries, and  providing two delegates with travel funding, up to a maximum of £150.

Bursaries holders will given full access to all three days of the conference from the 19th to the 21st of July and will have the opportunity to visit Huntly on Friday the 21st.

Travel Grant holders will have the cost of standard travel to the conference, by bus, train or plane reimbursed on the production of receipts up to the value of £150 per grant.

Applicants can apply for either or both of these opportunities and need not be currently registered for the conference if applying for a bursary.  Successful applicants will be expected to provide blog posts following the conference and will be asked to use Twitter during the conference.

Applicants should send a short letter of interest along with a…

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New Editor for the Lewis Carroll Review!

I’m very excited indeed to take over the editorship of the Lewis Carroll Review later this year. Please do bring any Alice & Lewis Carroll-related publications you’d like to see reviewed to my attention and follow @CarrollReview on Twitter where more updates will be emerging soon!

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Lewis Carroll, the Victorian Stage and Psychiatry – ‘Among Mad People’, University of York, 4th May 2017

That science and comedy had currency on the Victorian stage was not just known since Gilbert and Sullivan’s Major General & Lady Psyche sang their parodic praises of Victorian scientific progress — but science, especially psychology and psychiatry, along with early performance science, influenced also the work of Lewis Carroll (a great fan of G&S) and his most famous story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I will be presenting alongside a fabulous panel consisting of Dr Kim Bevan of the York Retreat (learn more about mad tea parties!) and Dr James Williams (and about language and insanity) at the University of York on the 4th of May (the birthday of the ‘real Alice’ – and Star Wars Day).

Do come along to what is looking to be a fantastic event (with free wine and nibbles).

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BSLS Round Table on Children’s Literature and Science

Later this week I will be presenting as part of a Round Table at the annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science.

Child characters and ideas about childhood and child readers have held significant place in literature, science writing, and educational discourse at least since the late eighteenth century. With shifting perceptions of what childhood itself constituted, they were the subject of education, as much as they were also challengers of status quo of ‘science’, of knowledge, and the societal structures facilitating it. This round table discuss the shifting dynamics in the relationships between children, literature, and science together, in a variety of contexts.

Contributors and topics:
Chair: Prof Martin Willis (Cardiff)

  • Prof Laurence Talairach-Vielmas (Toulouse/ Centre Alexandre Koyré), ‘Science for little girls? The Case of Aunt Judy’s Magazine’
  • Dr Will Tattersdill (Birmingham), Dinosaurs and Palaeontology for Children
  • Kanta Dihal (St Anne’s, Oxford), Quantum Physics and Children’s Reading
  • Dr Emily Alder (Edinburgh Napier), Frankenstein Retold for Children
  • Franziska Kohlt (Brasenose, Oxford), Through the two-way mirror and what Alice found there
  • Dr Melanie Keene (Homerton, Cambridge), Even the parodies: Sayers, satire, and children’s literature and science

Questions the panel will explore will include:

  • What strategies are deployed in science writing for children? How have these changed over time? How do they differ for younger and older children, or for different scientific disciplines?
  • How does children’s fiction represent scientific enquiry and scientists? What does it mean to be a child scientist in a fictional text?
  • How does science inform constructions of childhoods in literature? How have these changed over time?
  • What roles do form and genre play in how science is communicated to children or represented in their popular culture?
  • Can taking science as a lens help us to rethink how we value and evaluate children’s literature, as well as the capacities of child readers?

This discussion will be developed into an edited book collection of essays on children’s literature and science.


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Lewis Carroll Keynote Lecture, Université de Mons 19. April

I am excited to be giving the keynote lecture at this conference at Université de Mons (UMONS), Belgium, on the 19th of April 2017, alongside Prof Will Brooker, Prof Douglas Kibbee and Prof Isabelle Nières-Chevrel. I will be speaking about Lewis Carroll as a Victorian and man of science, historicist approaches to literature and how they can help address common misconceptions in Carroll’s biography & illuminate interpretations of Alice.

You can sign up for the conference here.


Many thanks to UMons for the wonderful three days!

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