Category Archives: Literary Studies

Alice’s Adventures in Brewing Land – a guest post from Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens are co-authors of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History.

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Research towards the book led us to seek reappropriations of Alice in the UK and abroad, especially the US and Japan. We took a particular interest in Carroll’s effect on culinary history. The real-life Charles Dodgson was fastidious about his diet, and his books reflect a similar obsession with consumption.[1] As we discuss in chapter two, Carroll was shocked that the Looking-Glass biscuit tins he had informally licenced were being sold with biscuits inside, and he insisted that his share of the tins be delivered empty.

Modern culinary responses to Alice, some no doubt that would perplex Carroll, are discussed in the fifth chapter of our book.

Dish from the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

Dish from the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

Space constraints meant that we could not pursue our food-related research, in writing at least, as fully as we wished, but we did gather material on recipes ranging from Victorian mock-turtle soup to Heston Blumenthal’s Alice banquet. We also encountered a number of Wonderland-themed alcoholic drinks being brewed around the world. Alice in modern times is strongly linked to cultures of intoxication. [2] Guinness, for instance, frequently used Alice in its marketing campaigns, and the British Library currently sells a ‘Drink Me’ sparkling wine.

Beer-makers have also taken up this association through a variety of Alice-inspired brews. Arguably the ‘drink me’ flavours of ‘cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast’ are best found in malt and hops, perhaps in a red Rodenbach or a vintage J. W. Lees Harvest Ale. In the hopes of discovering some of these flavours, we have opened three beers with an Alice connection

Alice beers and books

Alice beers and books

Mad Hatter Down the Rabbit Hole – 8.1%

The cherry tart is certainly present in this sour beer. It’s fizzy and lemony with tropical fruit and elements of pine, biscuit, flowers, and grapefruit. Plenty of hoppy complexity.

Humpty Dumpty Bad Egg – 4.1%

A ruby ale with plums and hints of banana, packed with berries. A light, malty beer that starts out dry and turns creamy (perhaps we’re imagining the custard).

BrewDog Alice Porter – 5.2%

Although not explicitly named after Carroll’s Alice, it’s hard to believe that the canny marketers at BrewDog were unaware of the association. Indeed, the Alice Porter comes closest of our trio to embracing the ‘drink me’ tastes. Cherry, toffee, and burnt toast are strongly in evidence, as is a meaty flavour akin to roasted turkey skin.

This missing element here is pineapple, which we hope to find in other (sadly yet-untasted) Alice beers:

New Holland Brewing’s Mad Hatter Midwest IPA

Rabbit Hole Brewing’s Off with Your Red and Tweedleyum

Wonderland Brewing Company’s Alice Blonde

Weetwood Ale’s Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter

[1] See, most recently, Michael Parrish Lee, ‘Eating Things: Food, Animals, and Other Life Forms in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books’, Nineteenth-Century Literature 68 (2014), 484-512.

[2] See Thomas Fensch, Alice in Acidland (Woodlands, TX: New Century Books, 1970).

Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens

Erika Gaffney Honored at the Attending to Early Modern Women Conference

Erika Gaffney award Early Modern WomenWe are exceedingly pleased and proud to share the news that Ashgate’s Publishing Manager for Literary & Visual Studies, Erika Gaffney, was honored at this year’s Attending to Early Modern Women conference. The Society feted her not only with an impressive cake but also with a most beautiful gift: an etching after Rembrandt by Master Engraver Amand Durand presented by Merry Wiesner-Hanks, editor of the Sixteenth-Century Journal and the Journal of World History.

Professor Wiesner-Hanks writes,

“The Attending to Early Modern Women conference and the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women were pleased to present a small token of our thanks to Erika Gaffney for her inspirational and tireless work at Ashgate Press at a book launch of Mapping Gendered Routes and Spaces in the Early Modern World at the ATW conference in Milwaukee in June. Her sponsorship of the series Women and Gender in the Early Modern World, and other books on topics dear to our hearts, has allowed exciting multidisciplinary scholarship to flourish and scores of able young scholars to advance in their careers. When members of the audience at the launch were asked to stand if they had been published by Ashgate, nearly half did, and when asked to stand if they WISHED to be published by Ashgate, all did. To a woman (and a few men), they told stories about how wonderful it has been to work with Erika, and the way she has helped the field to remain dynamic and growing at a time when other publishers are slashing their lists. We truly could not have come as far as we have without her.”

We congratulate Erika on receiving this well-deserved acknowledgment of her outstanding service to the profession.

Celebrating 150 years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

It’s been 153 years since Charles Lutwidge Dodgson rowed up the River Isis with Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, entertaining his young companions with a story of a girl named Alice who goes off in search of an adventure. Three years later, in 1865, Dodgson’s tale (much elaborated and revised) was published as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by the political cartoonist John Tenniel.

Fast forward 150 years, and the boat trip on the Isis has given birth to a multi-million pound industry, and a multiplicity of different versions of Alice across time and space. The parodies, theme park rides, computer games, exhibitions and film, television and theatre adaptations of the tale right up until the present day stand testament to Alice’s longstanding ability to capture the imagination of children and adults alike. ‘Like Shakespearean drama or Dickensian novels’, Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens write in their publishing history, ‘the Alice books, and the myths surrounding them, have become a part of our literary and cultural imagination, and as such have an influence and reach that is difficult to isolate or delimit’ (Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History, 2013, p. 156).

As Alice’s imaginary universe continues to expand and diversify, so too does scholarly interest in Alice Liddell’s alter ego and her fictional Wonderland. Carroll’s creation has given rise to academic studies on the work’s relationship with material culture, gender, theatre, adaptation, science, philosophy, politics, religion – even intellectual property, mathematics and psychoanalysis.

To celebrate its own place in the rabbit-warren of Alice’s 150-year history, Ashgate has brought together a selection of books that probe features of Carroll’s pioneering works – you can browse it for a limited time here.

Renaissance Mad Voyages and the ‘Cultures of Play, 1300–1700′ series

Posted by Emily Ferro, Marketing Coordinator

While the idea of play may not immediately draw to mind images of research and academia, the study of games and play in culture is a growing topic for research, and one that Ashgate is eager to delve into. A new series has emerged, Ashgate’s Cultures of Play, 1300–1700 which focuses on a 400-year period of Renaissance European thought and culture. Interdisciplinary in scope, this series considers the ludic elements of the early modern period from all angles, including history, art, religion, literature, and beyond. The series editor is Bret Rothstein (Indiana).

Renaissance Mad VoyagesAs an exciting start to the series, Ashgate is thrilled to announce the release of Anthony Parr’s Renaissance Mad Voyages. Parr closely examines the strangely playful activities of these “madde voiages,” (as writer William Rowley referred to them). Dive into the history of these travel practices and explore their classical and medieval origins. “Renaissance Mad Voyages is one of those exciting scholarly books that make you realize how important and interesting its apparently obscure subject is”, according to Jeremy Lopez of the University of Toronto. Exciting, important, playful, and breaking through the barriers of obscurity, this Renaissance voyage is one you won’t want to miss.

For more information about Renaissance Mad Voyages, such as reviews, an index, and ordering details, visit http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472457097

For more information about the Cultures of Play, 1300–1700 series, or for information about submitting a book proposal, please visit http://www.ashgate.com/culturesofplay

Mary Shannon’s book on Dickens’ social network launches at King’s College London

The close proximity of the London offices of Charles Dickens to a network of nineteenth-century publishers, including Dickens’ arch-competitor the radical publisher G.M.W Reynolds, has been revealed for the first time in a new study by Mary L. Shannon, Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton.

Mary Shannon signing copies of her book

Mary Shannon signing copies of her book

Joanne Shattock addressing the gathering

Joanne Shattock addressing the gathering

Mary Shannon’s book, Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street, which is the latest title in Ashgate’s The Nineteenth Century Series, launched on the 20th May at King’s College London, and the event included an address from series editor Joanne Shattock and Director of the Menzies Centre, Ian Henderson. The 60+ attendees were delighted to have the opportunity to peruse information boards and illustrations revealing a selection of the author’s findings.

Commissioning editor Ann Donahue reflected upon some of these findings in a few words shared at the event:

“When I walk down the main thoroughfare of my hometown, I pass a mix of independent specialty shops and generic chain stores. The experience was very different for Londoners striding down Wellington Street in The Strand. If you were fortunate, you might observe Charles Dickens or G.W.M. Reynolds or Henry Mayhew taking a break from their labors. Great noticers themselves, these authors and editors must have had frequent encounters with their neighbors, and these chance meetings in turn could not have failed to remind them of how their competitors advanced print culture in Britain and beyond. Mary Shannon’s book has the effect of turning her readers into eye-witnesses to the ways in which the close proximity of nineteenth-century publishers affected their relationships with each other and with a network of readers in Britain and beyond. Like the nineteenth-century readers who influenced the direction of newspapers and periodicals, Shannon has written a book that cannot fail to shape the work of scholars whose research brings them to Wellington Street.”

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‘Mary L. Shannon’s informative book offers an entirely new way to think about print culture. In focusing on Wellington Street off the Strand, where important Victorian writers such as Dickens, Mayhew, and Reynolds maintained their offices, she demonstrates the significance of geography for understanding the print networks that developed in midcentury London.’

Anne Humpherys, City University of New York, USA, author of Travels into the Poor Man’s Country: The Work of Henry Mayhew

David Whitley on The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation

Posted by Emily Ferro, Marketing Coordinator

The Idea of Nature in Disney AnimationThe Idea of Nature in Disney Animation by David Whitley has been chosen by our editors as having played a significant part in the building and reputation of our Literary Studies list. The following is a guest blog post by the author, reflecting on his motivations for publishing his book and the experiences he’s had with it since its publication.

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I was delighted to be asked by Ashgate to contribute a few reflections on The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation, even though – as may soon become apparent in this piece – I may well be the world’s most inexperienced blogger. There’s a pressure to keep moving forward all the time in academic life – producing new perspectives and keeping up with developments in your area – so that the opportunity to reflect back on a book that occupied a lot of time and energy over a significant period in my life (and even changed my outlook on many things in the end) is really welcome.

So – looking back, what was it all about? The idea behind the book was really quite simple – in some ways simple-minded, even. Like many other people in our uncertain times, I’d become preoccupied with trying to understand how our relationship to the natural world was changing and what kinds of positive response we might be able to make to what was widely viewed as an impending environmental crisis. As an academic whose field was literary and film studies, with a particular orientation towards children’s literature, I was especially interested in the kinds of stories and images we produce to make sense of our complex relationship to nature. Watching Disney films with my own kids over a number of years, I realized (this is perhaps what Simpson’s argot would describe as a ‘Doh!’ moment) that these movies had been centrally preoccupied with animals and nature from the time Disney started making feature length animations in 1937. Millions of children all over the world watched these movies repeatedly as they were growing up. So the Disney tradition constituted one of the most significant cultural repositories of imagery and stories connecting children to nature in the world. A great project for a book, in other words, trying to make sense of this connection and the different ways it had been developed in the history of Disney’s filmmaking.

So that was the simple bit – and, to be honest, when I thought about it, I was amazed no one had written a book-length study on such an important topic from this perspective before. The complication lay in that word ‘connecting’ children to the natural world, though. Most of the academic writing that existed on this topic (which was surprisingly limited, actually – most critics choosing to take Disney to task on issues of race and gender, rather than environment) critiqued the films on the premise that their effect on children was to disconnect them from, rather than connect them to, the natural world. The images of nature that Disney offered were considered to be sanitized, sentimental and cute, peddling a false and potentially damaging view of nature to vulnerable young minds.

There was a certain stringency and deconstructive force in adopting this kind of stance, but, the more I thought about it, the more one-sided this also seemed to be. Where Disney criticism focused on images of nature it tended either to read through the animals figured in the films immediately – seeing them as thinly veiled ciphers for human types that embodied culturally conservative agendas – or to upbraid the filmmakers for making the animals too cute and anthropomorphic. This seemed to me to be only half the story, though. So I came up with an alternative kind of strategy for reading the films, which I suppose you could say is close to what the anthropologists call ‘thick description’. In other words I tried to take the surface detail seriously – without being naïve about the distinctive lens through which nature was seen in the movies – taking account of the degree to which the animals retained elements of their ‘animalness’ in the films, and teasing out the implications of this in relation to a wider range of ideas about the environment that seemed relevant. What I hoped to do was to open up the films in some fresh ways and to see what their potential might be for speaking to some of the most important issues facing us in the 20th and 21st centuries, particularly as seen from perspectives to which a child audience could relate.

I don’t know how successful this was but the first edition of the book got generally appreciative reviews, as well as stirring a degree of skepticism and debate in the media. Ursula Heise, whose important work has both challenged and moved forward my own thinking on the idea of a global environmental imaginary, was kind enough to say that the book had opened up sophisticated ways of thinking about popular animation’s potential, which she was developing further herself. In 2012 Ashgate wanted to publish a paperback edition, and this gave me the opportunity to update it with a new chapter on WALL*E, which I think has significantly extended the scope of the book’s arguments.

What has become apparent to me since the second edition was published is that there are a lot of unexplored perspectives in this area that a number of scholars now seem to be working on. My book focused on images of wild nature in Disney, as a way of cutting a potentially huge topic down to size.  I now have a PhD student who is working very interestingly on images of urban environments in popular animated films. Her work problematizes a number of the issues I was trying to address from a quite different perspective. Consideration of the various ways we are entangled with the natural world in our urban environments is now being explored by cultural geographers and in important strands of new nature writing too, of course.

Quite a few significant Disney films also focus on domesticated animals or pets, as opposed to wild animals. A number of writers have written very insightfully about the problematic role pet animals play in contemporary society and there are some fine analyses of both Disney and Pixar films on this theme in Zoe Jaques’ recent book on children’s literature and the posthuman. Clearly there is an enormous amount of vital new thinking going on currently in the areas of animal studies, theories of place and environment, and ecocriticism more generally. The usefulness of considering these in relation to the Disney-Pixar traditions is that the issues come into focus in the context of narratives that engage and fascinate so many children and young people worldwide. I suspect this will continue to be a richly significant vein for scholars to explore, and I’m pleased to have been able to make a small contribution to the ensuing debates.

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About the Author: David Whitley is Lecturer in English in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK.

CFP: Allusion, Indirection, Enigma: Flirting with Early Modern Uncertainty

Posted by Bret Rothstein

Call for papers: Allusion, Indirection, Enigma: Flirting with Early Modern Uncertainty

Renaissance Society of America (Boston, March 31–April 2, 2016) #RSA16

Session organized by Bret Rothstein, Indiana University – Bloomington

Please send an abstract (up to 150 words) and a 300-word vita by May 31, 2015 to brothste@indiana.edu

Augustine may have believed in validity in interpretation, but the history of early modern Europe is thick with texts, objects, and ideas that seem to move in a very different direction. A striking number of images, texts, behaviors, musical scores, buildings, and even naturally-occurring objects seem designed, in a sense, to send the mind in any direction but the supposedly “right” one. (The matter becomes especially interesting with respect to “jokes of nature,” which might speak to a kind of divine mischief.) But why might this be the case? What was the value of getting things – very loosely conceived – wrong? In an attempt to begin answering such questions, this session is dedicated to the study of interpretive challenges, from theatrical productions to mathematical treatises, and from art works to naturally occurring objects. Its purpose is to promote conversation among scholars from across a range of disciplines about the social and cultural value of interpretation’s ugly stepchildren (confusion, misperception, ambivalence, and incomprehension, among others).

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Bret Rothstein teaches in the Department of the History of Art at Indiana University, Bloomington, and is the editor for Ashgate’s Cultures of Play series.