Oxford Afterlives

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The city of Oxford has been home to some of the world’s greatest writers and has inspired countless stories. This event explores the work of celebrated storytellers J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and Philip Pullman and how their stories have been reimagined through a range of media and digital technologies, taking on a myriad of afterlives. It will be held in the Oxford Museum of Natural History, which has sparked the imaginations of many authors.

150 years after the original publication of Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandRobert Douglas-Fairhurst (Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford), author of the Costa-shortlisted biography The Story of Alice, examines the character of Lewis Carroll and the creation of his iconic heroine. From Victorian Oxford to the modern online world, he explores how every generation has created its own Wonderland, and why we are still so curious about Alice’s dreamworld.

One of Oxford’s best-loved authors is J.R.R. Tolkien, whose work as Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford was deeply tied to his work as a fantasy writer. Stuart Lee (Member of the English Faculty and Merton College, University of Oxford) traces how Tolkien's Middle-earth and especially The Lord of the Ringshave been reimagined through a range of digital technologies, from games to films.

Philip Pullman’s work has a deep connection to Oxford, and His Dark Materials has passages set in the Oxford Museum of Natural History. Margaret Kean (Helen Gardner Fellow in English, St Hilda's College, University of Oxford) discusses how Pullman has rooted his story in physical objects and encouraged current younger readers to encounter the material world around them. She will also explore how Pullman plays with the idea of communication across different media in his trilogy, and will touch on the author's recent incorporation of the technology of 'lantern slides' into later editions of His Dark Materials.

The discussion will be chaired by Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Professor of English and Theatre Studies, University of Oxford) and there will be time for audience questions and discussion. 

Join us to celebrate Oxford as a location of stories, and to discover how digital tools may give these stories afterlives beyond the city.

The discussion will be followed by a drinks reception from 19:00-19:30. Free and all welcome. Registration is required.


Humanities & the Digital Age

Audience: Open to all


Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman

Finding Wonderland

Middle-earth and Tolkien's Digital Afterlives

Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'