A story of the past makes its way to the present: Mobility in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Open Access
Wu, Ying-Chi
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 20, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Daniel Dean Hade, Dissertation Advisor
  • Jacqueline J A Reid Walsh, Dissertation Advisor
  • Daniel Dean Hade, Committee Chair
  • Jacqueline J A Reid Walsh, Committee Chair
  • Steven Herb, Committee Member
  • Esther Susana Prins, Committee Member
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • media adaptations
  • mobility
  • picturebook
  • pop-up book
  • e-book
This study aims to understand a unique relationship between Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its media adaptations. Along with John Tenniel’s illustrations, Alice has been an enduring enchantment for both Western and Eastern readers and has inspired authors and artists to initiate their own creativity journeys. Looking at this classic text through the perspective of reader-response theory, I find Alice is laden with “mobility” that prompts people to rework and refashion it in various ways: books, movies, video games, and so on. Mobility is what the story is all about: movement and change. Likewise, mobility serves as a stimulus that incites readers to imagination and action. In the context of reading, this mobility spreads through three different aspects: the author, the reader, and the text. Each aspect needs to play along with the others, so that the story can remain alive and create meanings for more than one generation. In order to explore how the mobility in the original Alice has inspired contemporary authors and artists to engage their readers, three types of book adaptations (picturebooks, pop-up books, and an e-book) that were published after the year 1999 have been scrutinized. Through close reading, I have focused on what in Alice makes the movements possible and how each version of the book uses the medium traits to transmit the mobility that starts with the original. My reading response is also provided as an example of the engagement that a text invites. The findings suggest that Lewis Carroll’s Alice contains “drive” to make different renderings show motions in special ways. The picturebook versions employ the interaction of word and image to convey the inherent mobility whereas the pop-up books rebel against or adapt the traditional structures of the picturebook to create the movement that brings the story to life. The e-book app uses the interface of the tablet computer to imitate the 3D effects of the pop-up book and bring the animation of the text to its full potential. As the reader can detect and connect the mobility in the original to other media representations, the sphere of the reading experience can be enhanced and expanded. Moreover, we can also recognize the boundless activities to which a story narrative can take us.