Alice's Wonderland: The Hidden Depths of a Legendary Fantasy with William Bernhardt

Alice's Wonderland: The Hidden Depths of a Legendary Fantasy with William Bernhardt


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On the fourth of July, 1862, on a “golden afternoon” in Oxford, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (known today by the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll) took three young girls for a rowing expedition—and literary history was made. Initially, the Wonderland books were treated as amusing but meaningless works for children, but in later years, readers and scholars have unearthed new layers of meaning in these complex works. 

Led by an expert in Victorian fiction and Lewis Carroll in particular, this conversation will primarily explore the themes and ideas running through the two Alice books. Carroll published a sequel in 1871, titled Through the Looking-Glass, and a shortened version for young children, The Nursery "Alice", in 1890. Wonderland's ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, art, ballet, theme parks, board games, and video games. During our time together, we will also examine the many media adaptions of Alice and why, for the most part, they have not been successful. 

His colleagues knew Dodgson as a reserved, fastidious, stuttering, mathematics don and he was described by Mark Twain as “the stillest and shyest full-grown man” he had ever met.  Nonetheless, Dodgson wrote the most popular and successful books of fantasy in the English language and is the third most frequently quoted author in Bartlett’s Quotations. Our conversation will also delve into this mysterious author, sometimes portrayed as childlike, sometimes portrayed as a sexually repressed bachelor with a suspicious interest in photographing little girls. Together we will dissect the latest scholarship, which provides further insight into this literary enigma.

While not required, our expert recommends perusing these volumes in advance of the conversation: 

  • The Annotated Alice: The 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition by Martin Gardner (Norton 2010)
  • Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N. Cohen (Vintage 1996)

William Bernhardt is a scholar, teacher, author of more than fifty published works, including several New York Times-bestselling novels. In addition to his many crime and mystery novels, Bernhardt has written plays, a musical (book and music), nonfiction, children's books, poetry, and created jig-saw puzzles. He was also a Champion on Season 30 of the game show Jeopardy! He is the founder and President of the Red Sneaker Writing Center which provides resources to support upcoming writers. The Center hosts the annual WriterCon in Oklahoma City and small-group seminars across the US, as well as a free monthly e-newsletter and a biweekly podcast — reaching more than 20,000 subscribers. Bernhardt has received many accolades for his writing, including an induction into the Oklahoma Writers’ Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law and currently lives in Oklahoma with his wife and their children.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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Anonymous (Orinda, US)

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Paul Rivard (Québec, CA)
Lack of depth

This is clearly substandard compared to other literary analyses offered by Context

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
50%
(1)
0%
(0)
50%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
Anonymous (Orinda, US)

Guest did not leave comment

P
Paul Rivard (Québec, CA)
Lack of depth

This is clearly substandard compared to other literary analyses offered by Context