Tag Archives: Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s Oxford & the Surprising Histories of Alice’s Wonderland course, University of Oxford

From June 2022, I am taking on leading this fantastic programme at the University of Oxford’s Continuing Education Department (you can peruse the course contents here). The course will offer a fresh, thought-provoking take on the place of Lewis Carroll & his most famous books in their time, and their continuing appeal in ours. It will explore the role of Oxford in its creation, but also how looking at the Victorian contexts that inspired it – from science and medicine to music and logic – but also how that can help us navigate intellectual and social challenges of the past, but, hopefully, also illuminate our own – and teach us how to think, learn, talk and write about them.

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Lewis Carroll & Looking-Glass feature in the Yorkshire Post

A lovely feature about Lewis Carroll & his Yorkshire connections appeared in the Yorkshire Post yesterday – for which I was interviewed. They give a shout-out to our Looking-Glass Sesquicentenary conference also (registration is now open btw! Have a look at our programme too!)

You can find the article on the Yorkshire Post website (sadly paywalled) or you can have a cheeky look at my Instagram for pictures of the print article.

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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 Academia.edu profile – and if you’re interested in American’s new work on the Alice: Asylum franchise, make sure you follow his Patreon, too!

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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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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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‘Alice in Wonderland & Science’ film for University of Oxford

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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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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A Mad Tea-Party!

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the Public Domain Review & Medium came up with the fantastic idea to release a digital “Annotated Alice” – each of the 12 chapters annotated by a different Lewis Carroll scholar, with funky illustrations. So far, this has resulted in a wonderfully illuminating, kaleidoscopic journey into the cultural history & impact of Carroll’s most famous novel, which has reached 12,000 views so far, nearly 5,000 reads, as well as retweets from The British Council, The University of Oxford Humanities Division & Bodleian Library, Brainpickings and many other fantastic organisations.

I am particularly pleased that I was able to share some of the links between literature and science in “my” chapter, the “Mad Tea-Party” (you will hopefully be able to read more of this soon in article form!). For now – enjoy the free online text, share, and spread the word!

A Mad Tea-Party

John Tenniel, “A Mad Tea-Party” from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

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