Curiouser and Curiouser New Forms of a Children’s Classic

(Jefferson: McFarland, 2016) Sneak Peak at Introduction on Amazon

What keeps the spirit of Alice alive after all these years? And what makes us so spontaneously turn into armchair travelers ready to unconditionally follow a little girl on her fantastic journeys down a rabbit hole into topsy-turvy worlds? Alice’s unfailing ability to amaze is due to her characteristic ambiguity that entails a plethora of interpretive possibilities and hence a rewarding adaptability to multiple mixed media forms which stimulate senses beyond the verbal games establishing the trademark charm of the original children’s classic. Popular postmodern post/millenial re-configurations of Victorian fantasy, in particular late 20st century and especially early 21st century adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice tales , reveal how intermedial transitions elicit different modes of enchantment, disenchantment, and re-enchantment which both shape and reflect contemporary fantasists’ strategies of makebelieving, and circumscribe a metafantasy commenting on limits and potentials of the fantasy genre as well as the dys/functioning of imagination. Adventures get curiouser and curiouser once Alice ventures into Transmedia Wonderland, transgressing the confines of the written text towards visual, acoustic, tactile, kinetic and digital new media regimes of representation.
Contemporary adaptations dynamically interact with their Victorian source texts as well as one another to enhance the immersion into an elaborate fictional universe and maximalize audience engagement, while retelling a story that remains recognizably the same, yet turns radically different with each new retelling. The journey to Wonderland today signifies a metafantasmagoric, metamedial mission urging all to interactively explore the cultural critical and ethical stakes of our embodied imaginative experience of making sense of nonsense.


Acknowledgments, Preface
Introduction: Adapting Ambiguous Alice
“doesn’t matter which way you go… —So long as I get SOMEWHERE”

1. Transmedia Wonderland
“And what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversation?”
1.1. Metamedial Adaptations after the Pictorial Turn
1.2. Interactive Imagetexts from Pop-Up Books to iPad Apps
1.3. Disneyfied Alices: Commodifying or Stimulating Imaginative Agency?
1.4. Changing Media of Enchantment: Tim Burton’s 3D CGI Visual Nonsense

2. Imaginative Reluctance and the (Meta)fantasy of Girlish Fantasy
“Which Dreamed It?”
2.1. The artist as dreamgirlchild meets the disbelieving spectator in Terry Gilliam’s poetic horror cinema
2.2. Coraline’s Funcanny Gothic Adventures Across Media: A Tomboy Daughter’s Fantasies of a Monstrous Mother
2.3. The meanings of Madness in participatory culture: From Psychological Thriller Computer Game to Televised Family Adventure Romance, Fanfiction and Cosplay

3. Picturing the Erotic Girl
“We are but older children, dear, Who fret to find our bedtime near.”
3.1. Harassing Wonderland: The sexualization of Author, Muse, and their titillating Fictional Incarnations
3.2. Long(ing) Exposures: Lyrical Biografiction of Alice and her Photographer in Prose, Poem, and Dance
3.3. Puerile Passions and Forgetful Senile Desires in Contemporary Art Photo and Film
3.4. Stripping kiddie-lit in Melinda Gebbie and Alan Moore’s Art-Porn Graphic novel Lost Girls

4. Embodied Language, Multisensorial Nonsense
“Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas – only I don’t exactly know what they are!“
4.1. Surrealist Puppetry and Uncanny Magical Toys in Jan Švankmajer’s Something from Alice
4.2. Literary Nonsense in the Curiosity Cabinet: Ducornet reads Carter reads Švankmajer
4.3. Linguistic Grotesqueries Musicalized in Tom Waits
4.4. Postmodern Embodiments in Carnal Art: Reanimated Rabbits, Gracefully Grotesque Ballerinas and Cookbook Adventures

In Place of Conclusion: Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Wonderland
“We’re all mad here!”

FLYER: Kerchy Alice book info

A monográfia 2016-ban elnyerte a Magyar Anglisztikai Társaság HUSSE Senior Book Award díját. // The book received in 2016 the Senior Book Award of the Hungarian Society for the Study of English.


Ida Yoshinaga. “A Review of Alice in Transmedia WonderlandGramarye. Issue 12. the Journal of the Sussex Centre for Folklore. 2017. 82-84.

“Presenting readers with a staggeringly ambitious project that makes this reviewer wonder if we indeed are all mad here, in the unreserved scope and trendiness of the multiforms under discussion, Kérchy’s densely particular approach accumulates into an inter-generational, international, intermedial ethnography that honors the possibilities of fantasy as a gendered, cross-cultural genre of awe, imagination, incredibility. (…)
A key scholar of formal issues within fairy-tale studies, Kérchy undertakes ferocious
methodological experiments to convey millennial cross-mediation, her expression muted only by the linear, static, constricting conventions of academic writing. Western philosophy seems insufficient to the Amazonian task of tracing this wonder tale across so many dimensions and depths, as syntaxes of the scholarly monograph fail to contain the raw power of Kérchy’s provocations and revelations. Like her subject, the century-and-a-half old Alice, whose well-known ‘objectification … via incomplete or infinite variations ofgrotesque bodily metamorphosis’  represents our human efforts to engage the unimaginable, Kérchy’s weighty contribution to transmedia scholarship deserves a grander, fiercer form: at the very least, an audio-visual essay that transmits such a treasure of insights and illustrations to the reader multisensorially, perhaps crafted by a surrealist puppeteering auteur fluent in the semiotics of 3D videogames, in a work to be engaged interactively via digital devices. Which would be the merriest unbirthday present of them all, for femaleheroes assaying the impossible.”

Michelle Bourgeois (International Youth Library). “Alice in Transmedia Wonderland Review.” BOOKBIRD : A JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S LITERATURE (ISSN: 0006-7377) (eISSN: 1918-6983) 2017. 55. 3. pp. 59-60.

“Overall, Alice in Transmedia Wonderland provides a great critical introduction to contemporary transmedia interpretations of Lewis Carroll’s original works. (…) This work appeals primarily to an academic readership, especially those with a basis in postmodernist theory. (…)  Though the voice and scope are solidly academic, casual readers who are devoted Alice fans may also find the subjects to be interesting and enjoyable.”

Virginie Iché. “Review of Alice in Transmedia Wonderland.” Marvels & Tales. 2018.32.1 pp.182-184.

“Anna Kérchy’s Alice in Transmedia Wonderland tackles the daunting task of examining the virtually countless postmillennial adaptations of the original Alice tales—and, as becomes more and more obvious, rewritings of the Lewis Carroll myth as well. Kérchy chooses not to limit herself to one form of adaptation (book-to-screen, book-to-digital media, book-to-stage, and so forth), as she wishes “to trace transmedia interconnections and metamedial self-reflexivity across a variety of representational methods” (2). The variety of media in her corpus reveals her broad understanding of what an Alice adaptation is.”

Halyna Rys. “Nonsensical Quests for Making Sense: Adapting and Interpreting Alice” Americana E-Journal. 2017.

“Alice in Transmedia Wonderland studies the fascinating transitions of the artistic emphases: from the stress on the linguistic sophistication of Carroll’s text and static visual representations in Tenniel’s illustrations to the emphasis on the erotic nature and physicality highlighted in contemporary interpretations and adaptations. … The nonsense of Victorian fantasy survives numerous transformations and “shapeshiftings” carefully examined in this book. Consequently, even though the book focuses mostly on processes of enchantment, disenchantment, and re-enchantment in Alice, it goes beyond the discussion of Carrollian fantasy, offering readers new ways of understanding the adaptability of classical stories.”

Björn Sundmark. “Carroll Studies: Review Essay. Samlungsrecension.” Barnboken. Journal of Children’s Literature Research. 2016. 39. 1-3.

“Inte minst visar Kerchy i sin analys hur till exempel Tim Burtons kritiserade Alice-film parerar den långt drivna förenklingen och banaliseringen av Carrolls text och handling genom att premiera ett visuellt nonsensbildspråk. Över huvud taget är det idag vanligast att tänka på Alice som en visuell produkt, ”sprungen ur Walt Disney, Tim Burtons, American McGees eller Hello Kittys ’magiska värld’, och främst associerad med animation, 3D-upplevelser, dataspel, cosplay-karaktärer, flickprylar, eller nöjesparksunderhållning” (27, min översättning). Detta har inte bara att göra med Alice-berättelsernas beredskap och potential för bildberättande, utan också med det sena tjugohundratalets ”pictorial turn” (eller ”iconic turn”) – den ”visuella vändningen” – inom kulturen. Alice-berättelsernas bilder har nämligen visat sig passa detta skifte perfekt. Men Kerchy visar dessutom, som citatet ovan antyder, att det inte bara handlar om bilder (rörliga eller ej) utan om en multisensorisk Alice, som handlar om ljud och kläder och upplevelser i alla upptänkliga mediaformer.”

Makai Péter Kristóf. “Aki mert merni. Alíz kalandjai Médiaországban” Próza Nostra. 2016. Dec 20.

“A teljesség igénye nélkül Kérchy elemez eredeti illusztrációt (Tenniel), rajzfilmet (Disney), mozifilmet (Burton; Gilliam Tidelandje), gyerekkönyvet (Gaiman Coralineja), képregényt (Gaiman alapján Craig P. Russell), bábfilmet (Jan Švankmajer), videojátékot (American McGee), konceptalbumot (Tom Waits), balett-előadást, performanszt, 3D-s képeskönyvet és még feltűnik egy iPad-alkalmazás is, és ezek kart-karba öltve járják a Bolond Kalapos faddavak-táncát (a Futterwackent). Mégis, a visszatérő érvek és gondolatok kavalkádjából előtűnik egy egységes kép arról, hogy Alíz mit is jelent a különféle művészeti felfogások sokszor egymásnak ellentmondó értelmezéseiben. (…) ha egy átlagos bölcsészettudományi munka gazdag, akkor itt valóságos kincsestárral van dolgunk.”

Sánta Balázs. Csodaország itt és ott: Lewis Carroll-i adaptációk karneválja.” BUKSZ. Budapesti Könyvszemle. 2017. Tavasz-Nyár. 11-16.o.

“2015-ben volt épp százötven éve, hogy először megjelent a legtöbbek által Lewis Carroll néven ismert Charles Lutwidge Dodgson első könyve Alice kalandjairól Csodaországban. Nem csoda hát, hogy a másfél évszázad alatt az egész világot bejárt örök klasszikusnak és megszámlálhatatlan feldolgozásának, valamint természetesen a szerzőnek magának is megannyi értekezés, értelmezés és átértelmezés, újragondolás adózott az évforduló alkalmából. Kérchy Anna könyve is ebbe e zavarba ejtően sokszínű palettába visz újabb színeket mind az általa tárgyalt Carroll-adaptációk, mind az azokra adott kritikai reflexiók karneválszerű felsorakoztatásával. Teszi mindezt ugyanakkor olyan rendszerlátó szervezésben, ami egyszerre avatja még a legbizarrabb művészi performanszokat is a kultúratudomány figyelmet érdemlő tárgyaivá, valamint teszi hozzáférhetővé mind az alkotásokat, mind pedig a könyvben idézett irodalom-, média-, genderkutatás és más kritikai diskurzusok legfrissebb eredményeit az olvasó számára.”

Dr. A Ebert. “Alice in Transmedia Wonderland Review.” Pop Culture Shelf. 2017. 07.24.

“Her study gives an excellent overview of the recent approaches to the Alice novels and impresses by the sheer amount of well-researched data on mixed media approaches. Truly, a recommended reading for Carroll fans.”

Miriam Elizabeth Burstein. “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Open Letters Monthly. Online Arts and Literature Review 2017.06.01.

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are delicate subjects for academic analysis. Indeed, two of the most recent monographs related to the novels, Will Brooker’s Alice’s Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture (2004) and Anna Kérchy’s Alice in Transmedia Wonderland: Curiouser and Curiouser New Forms of a Children’s Classic (2016) are about adapting and appropriating the Alice books, rather than the books themselves. It is hard to resist a cringe at the thought of subjecting something so famously playful to something that Carroll would probably have played with. (One can only imagine the fate of deconstruction in Wonderland.)

Don D’Ammassa. “Non-Fiction Reviews” Critical Mass Website. 2016.

“Alice in Wonderland is, of course, one of the best known children’s books of all time. This book is an extended look at how the story has been portrayed in various media forms over the years. The author covers the obvious like books and movies and television, but also original artwork inspired by the book, its influence on other writers, even a look at some erotica. (…) overall this was an interesting and often enlightening book.”

Weiwu Zhang. “Booknotes: New Media.” Communication Booknotes Quarterly 47: (4) p. 149. (2016)

“Alice in Transmedia Wonderland analyzes contemporary postmodern adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in late twentieth century and early twenty first century globalized popular culture. The book is composed of four chapters: Transmedia Wonderland, Imaginative Reluctance and the (Meta)Fantasy of Girlish Fantasy, Picturing the Erotic Girl, Embodied Language & Multisensorial Nonsense. ”

Megjelenés alatt/Forthcoming

Emma Bálint in Libri & Liberi

Kiera Vaclavik in Journal of Victorian Culture



Lewis Carroll Csodavilága szegedi szemmel. Kérchy Anna hiánypótló köteteket alkot a Bolyai ösztöndíj támogatásával.” SZTE Magazin. 2014. 7. szám.