Baylor Libraries “Alice in Wonderland” Symposium takes students down the rabbit hole

The Baylor University Libraries’ “Alice in Wonderland” Symposium kicks off Oct. 6 and will consist of a many events celebrating the book’s 150th anniversary and the long-lasting effect it has on literature and research.

“With ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ it’s a book most people have read or at least seen the movie, so I think it will be accessible to a broad audience,” Access Outreach Librarian and Associate Director of Armstrong Browning Library Jennifer Borderud said.

The book’s milestone anniversary combined with its popularity made it a perfect candidate for this year’s symposium, Borderud said.

“I think there were other topics we considered for this year, but I don’t remember, because when we hit on ‘Alice’ we got really excited about it,” Borderud said.

The interdisciplinary nature of the symposium is clear, as there are speakers from the Departments of History, Theatre, Environmental Science and Communication Science and Disorders. Keynote speaker Dr. Robin Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, will also address the mathematics within the novel.

“I was really happy that we didn’t go with and an English literature or children’s literature speaker because that’s the obvious choice,” Long said. “Choosing someone with a background in math shows what the symposium is all about.”

Both Long and Borderud hope that the variety of topics covered will excite more interest in the both the faculty and the student body.

“It’s never just a single presentation that makes [the event] the most interesting, it’s seeing different people with different backgrounds,” Long said.

The featured events include a public reading of the book on Tuesday, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and Keynote speaker on Thursday, and the panel of speakers on Friday. A children’s exhibit at Armstrong Browning Library will also be featured.

“We have four individuals who have volunteered to read, and are inviting families to that,” Borderud said.

Each year’s symposium theme is chosen by a committee that consists of four librarians. This year, the committee also added two professors.

“This is the first year we had faculty members on the committee. That’s been really great because they have really brought a different perspective than the librarians have,” Metadata and Catalog Librarian Kara Long said.

One of the main jobs of the committee is to decide on the panelists for the year’s symposium. This year’s panelists will feature two graduate students and two undergraduates.

“We’re really excited to have them be a part of this symposium,” Borderud said of the undergraduate speakers.

The 10 panelists will cover a wide range of topics, each relating to a theme in “Alice in Wonderland.”

“One of the goals of the symposium is to appeal to people with many different interests—it’s not just for English Literature people,” Long said.

Each of the events are open to the public, and also to Baylor faculty and students, as both Borderud and Long believe the book can be enjoyed by those of any age.

“I think ‘Alice in Wonderland’ still manages to capture imagination even 150 years after it was published,” Borderud said. “It continues to be a childhood favorite.”

At the end of the panel Friday, the theme for next year’s symposium will be announced.