Alice in Wonderland

I'm rereading Alice this week because I'm going to teach it in my first-year course this semester. What has struck me on this reading is not just the irrationality of the adult world from Alice's point of view, but its stupidity & ugliness. The main themes of the course are childhood & adulthood, chaos & order, authenticity & alienation. Before Wonderland, though, we are going to spend a few days with Blake's Songs of Innocence & Experience & Wordsworth's "Immortality Ode" & T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which carries Wordsworth's poem to its logical conclusion. I'll then use Alice & Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees as a way into Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time & Nick Hornby's About a Boy. We'll conclude with Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower. Alice, though, is the pivot upon which the course will turn.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

4 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland


    Taking space
    makes time apart
    that part I get

    but if a mind was once
    what a diamond’s coal for today
    we would not be having
    this delusional charade

    where the bully always rises
    to the top before he’s stopped
    while that pale orchid justice
    blooms its few amazing seconds

    every hundred years or so even if
    every day we misted down the leaves
    we turned it gently every week.

  2. Great to see such current literature being treated in undergraduate education. Seems like literary criticism has been allergic to anything published in its own century, just in case it didn’t end up standing the test of time. But making the connection between old warhorses and hot-off-the-press literature is critical to our understanding of continuity in the literary tradition.

Comments are closed.