The banner is a low-tech simulation of my place through time: the first photograph is intended to invoke the tundra of the PaleoIndian period, 12,500-10,000 BCE; the second, the swamps and woodlands of c. 1630, of the contact period between the Massachusett and the first European settlers. The third photograph is of my front yard when I moved in (the yard was used as a doggie playground), c. 2007; the fourth, a photograph of my garden, c. 2010.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

guest blogger Mary Elliott, on Wonderland

Because Lewis Carroll did not provide a map, it is difficult to think of how to map out or even describe Wonderland.  However, while rereading Alice in Wonderland for the thousandth time searching for a clue, I had an epiphany: the only way to enter Wonderland is to dive head first. Carroll writes: “Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.” Just as Carroll describes Alice’s entrance into Wonderland, in a moment our imaginations enter Wonderland through the rabbit-hole. If there were just one word to describe Wonderland it would be nonsensical. Because Wonderland is so nonsensical and we have no map by Carroll, the only way to map Wonderland is by following Alice. 
            Alice tumbles down the rabbit-hole and falls into a hall full of locked doors. She is quickly filled with fear and begins to sob, creating a pool of tears. Alice must swim, along with many of Wonderland’s creatures, in the pool she created. This is a good example of the point that Cheryl Glotfelty makes, that “all ecological criticism shares the fundamental premise that human culture is connected to the physical world, affecting it and affected by it.” Alice directly affects the ecology she has stumbled into with her tears. Alice in Wonderland portrays the connection between the physical world and human culture through Alice’s interactions with the land and its creatures. Carroll seemingly places importance on human perception and interaction with the environment because the only view of Wonderland the reader has is through Alice’s eyes. Figure A is a map created by a fan which depicts all of the places mentioned in Wonderland, but the interesting part is that all of the places are connected by a line symbolizing Alice’s path.

 Figure A

It seems to me that this fan maybe even unknowingly reinforces Alice’s importance to shaping Wonderland through this winding path drawn in the map. As the map depicts, after Alice’s swim and arrival on the bank, she finds her way to the Rabbit’s house. Again, Carroll emphasizes the relationship between Alice and Wonderland through the changes Alice makes to the invented ecology. Because Alice’s foolish acts cause her to grow to an enormous size, she wreaks major havoc upon Rabbit’s house, spurring a negative response by some of Wonderland’s creatures.
Alice continues her adventures and after a few encounters with characters including the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and the Mad Hatter, Alice arrives in the Queen’s Croquet Ground. Carroll creates such images such as card soldiers literally painting the rose trees red to please their Queen, and people using flamingoes as mallets and hedgehogs as croquet balls. These creatures can be studied through ecology, which Stephanie Sarver defines as “a scientific discipline that studies the connections between organisms and their environments.” Sarver’s raises an interesting point: are maps a way we humans—organisms—connect to our environments? Humans use maps to explore and understand the land. Even when a person has never been somewhere, they know what other countries or continents look like, especially with the modern advancements like Google maps. Is this why fans and scriptwriters feel the need to map out Wonderland? Figure B shows how a scriptwriter maps out Wonderland, so that even though he will never go there, he will have an idea of what it looks like.  The desire for a   

 Figure B

relationship with the land for such needs as hunting, gathering, trading, and traveling caused humans from thousands of years ago to make maps. The human affinity for cartography is obvious and is well documented through the knowledge of maps like Figure C.  Figure C is the

Figure C

oldest known world map from the sixth century BCE.  Humans have been making maps for thousands of years, which demonstrate the importance of cartography to humans and how making maps increases the interaction between humans and the environment. 
            Wonderland is an ecology based on the nonsensical imagination of a man and his heroine, Alice, a naive young girl. As Alice dives, we must dive into Wonderland and follow her path to fully understand the ecology and the text’s message: the importance of human interaction with the environment. While Carroll’s quirky characters may create speed bumps along this path, if we follow Alice, his message will ring true. At the end of the tale when Alice’s sister wakes her for tea, Wonderland ends as Alice’s journey ends, further solidifying Carroll’s message. 

Works Cited
Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Random House, 1946. Print.
Glotfelty, Cheryl. "What Is Ecocriticism?" The Association for the Study of Literature and
Environment ASLE, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <>.
Sarver, Stephanie. "What Is Ecocriticism?" The Association for the Study of Literature and
Environment ASLE, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <>.

"Alice in Wonderland Map." Fanart-central. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.
            <>. Figure A
"Alice in Wonderland (2010) Map of Underland." Map of Underland. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov.
2012. <>.Figure B
"Armenia and Karabakh, History, Maps, Images, Multimedia and Info." Armenia and Karabakh, 
History, Maps, Images, Multimedia and Info. N.p., 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <>. Figure C

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