You are what you eat : oral aggression and agency in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in wonderland and Catherynne Valente’s the girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making
Date of Issue2015
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Fantasy and myth protagonists have a complicated, often detrimental relationship with the food in their respective worlds, the female characters more so than the males. This paper to examine two texts that destabilise this damaging–Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, both of which lend varying levels of autonomy to its female protagonists, enabling them to exert control over their environments and themselves through food. Furthermore, in line with Nancy Armstrong’s observation that Alice in Wonderland “links the problem of appetite with another form of oral aggression” (18), namely speech, I will pursue a secondary line of investigation into the ways in which speech similarly reveals how each protagonist negotiates their autonomy and identity. I will also address how the platform of the fantasy genre functions in both texts as an allegory for growth and self-discovery, paying special attention to how situating Alice within the historical context of her Victorian background determines the extent of her development. Finally, using Bakhtinian and Freudian theory I aim to delineate the psychological implications of each portal fantasy adventure, namely the significant role the carnivalesque element plays in each magical realm, and how each world reflects the fragmented self, respectively.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University