Breaking through the looking-glass: (re)imagining Alice through visual representation
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This thesis focuses on the visual iconography of the ‘Alice’ figure created in Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, and it traces the progression of Alice’s characterisation through multimodal platforms including illustration, cinematography and fine art photography. It investigates the altering dynamic of the ‘Alice’ figure through a close reading of selected and representational visual texts. Similarly, this thesis examines the growth of Alice from child subject to adult woman, something that is a significant aspect of visual (re)imagining. These multimodal representations inaugurate a new sense of identity that merges with the overall idea of Alice. This thesis considers Alice as a kind of collective and ongoing iconotext; she is an amalgam of image and narrative character that transcends her literary origins. The images allow Alice to outgrow the text and give us an Alice that is far more developed than the singular character who appears in the written form. This thesis argues that the initial conception of the ‘Alice’ figure stems from the photographic existence of Alice Liddell. Therefore, Jean Baudrillard’s notion of the simulacrum is essential to this research; this thesis traces the journey from the referent (Alice Liddell) to the end result of pure simulacrum (Alice as an idea that transcends her original state). The version of Alice Liddell that is captured in Carroll’s photographs is the beginning of a universal ‘Alice’ figure, and thus, becomes a referent for all other (re)creations. Hence, the ‘Alice’ figure maintains a polymorphic identity throughout her illustrative career. As she evolves, the identity of Carroll’s protagonist widens while the referential origin of Alice Liddell is inevitably altered (or completely lost) through pure simulacrum. Therefore, given that the referent of Alice is continuously echoed throughout the (re)imagined illustrative works, Jacques Derrida’s notion of hauntology is also relevant when analysing the ‘Alice’ figure. This haunting effect of being an omnipresent figure is interesting when analysing the impact of Carroll’s imagination on other illustrators. Effectively, she becomes an idea that echoes in the works of ‘Alice’ artists, decisively present and non-present all at once.
Alice's adventure in Wonderland