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ENGB35 Alice in Wonderland 1.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Pouneh Saeedi

ENGB35 Alice in Wonderland 1  Fantasy fiction o As subgenre o Depends on impossibility o “the willing suspension of disbelief” (Coleridge)  Imagination  One way to distinguish between good and bad fantasy  If you can‟t suspend your disbelief, probs not any good o Tells us about the “real” world  Despite or because of its fantastic elements o Modern form of romance  19 c, Lewis Caroll one of fathers of fantasy fiction o Fantasy fiction and children‟s fiction begin in Alice  Both depend on the valorisation of the imagination  Children‟s imagination  Cultural significance cannot be overstated o Jean Piaget: fantasy key to child development  In 20 c, fantasy gets scientific twist  Child learns through the imagination  Completely different from 18 c, Lockean perspective which is against fantasy or imagination  It‟s useless and will be confused with real life  Research suggests until the age of three, children have no difficulties identifying fantasy or real life  Even if they can‟t actually differentiate, they don‟t treat things as real  Stepping stone on the road to rational adulthood  Bruner: helps children to “subjunctivize”  Can think subjunctively, beyond your own identity and your own concerns  Beyond the limits of your own experience and human possibilities  Important social/moral component: fantasy helps us relate to others o Imagine ourselves in their shoes  Social and sociable form of fiction  Value: way to explain things, that it gives reasons for what we can‟t understand  Fill in causality with supernatural things and whatever  To manage and get their heads around an unknown world o Could be source of terror o Absorbed through magic, can be more manageable  Fantasy safe way to drive psychic feelings  Sibling rivalry  Children only remember the nice parts of fantasy and not the scary parts (in some studies?)  Like in HP, magical powers, friendships, and not that Voldemort is trying to kill him  Generally understood in a continually romantic way to cultivate imagination  Enables access to deep truths to our world  Ursula K. Le Guin: “… fantasy is true, of course. It isn‟t factual, but it is true” (“Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?”)  Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Romantic Child o Childhood vs. adulthood  Childhood is privileged and valorised against the adulthood because adulthood is completely different state that is to be lamented by the adult  this innocent child is gendered effeminate  almost always a girl that transports the world into an imaginary world o Anne Shirley o Alice o Lyra o Lucy  Really different ideas of gender from now o Either typical of his culture in having lots of little child friends that are girls  Or pushing the conventions of childhood a little too far o Alice: was a real little girl  The poem Through the Looking Glass: acrostic poem  Daughter of the dean of the college where 24 year old Dodgson was a lecturer  Alice Pleasance Liddell  He took her and her sisters boating in the epigraphical poem  He told them a story, first version of Alice‟s Adventures Under Ground  Illustrated it himself, and presented it to her  Pioneer of photography, photographed children  If Anne of Green Gables fixes Anne in childhood forever, so does photography  Photography inherently nostalgic craft  Fixing people in a moment of time  Sheer delight in child and child‟s imagination  The kids are all dressed up in fantasy role-play  On one hand, clearly derives of cultural investment and privileging in children  Not alone  Cultivated the child friends to flirt with their mothers? o Argument, cover story for adult extramarital sexuality o Was no unique, but still unusual for him to befriend little girls o
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