“Queer Things Happening”: Wonderland as a Wish-Landscape of Liberation and Queerness [virtual]

Francesca Arnavas (University of Tartu)

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the word “queer” recurs rather frequently. Alice is “getting so well used to queer things happening”, she finds a “queer looking party”, and she even exclaims “how queer everything is today!”. Queerness in Carroll’s times did refer mainly to oddity, strangeness, unusuality, rather than establishing an explicit connection with sexuality. Nevertheless, queerness is definitely a relevant trait of the text, one which the Disney version of it (Alice in Wonderland, 1951) has not managed to erase. Despite the edulcorated tones and situations, Disney’s Wonderland remains a queer space, an utopian, wish-landscape, in which fixed categories and identities are questioned, rules are inverted, and disorientation and astonishment can actually be means to begin to appreciate a new reality. Theorising Disney’s Wonderland as a queer space, in the sense intended by José Esteban Munoz, sheds light on how the never-ending fascination with Wonderland and its many interpretations may also relate to how binary thinking and rigid dichotomies are there repeatedly de-constructed, offering instead a whimsical space of queerness, liberation, and otherness.

Part of 08-01 Queering Disney [hybrid], Saturday, October 15, 10:30 am–12:30 pm