Wonderland Awards Mark a Carrollian Weekend at USC Libraries

Wonderland Award

A USC student earning her master’s degree in Literary Editing and Publishing earned first prize at the 2021 USC Libraries Wonderland Award competition, which included submissions from 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Anna Collier took inspiration from a scene in the final chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in creating by hand an oversized pack of wooden playing cards and cardboard box container. The illustrations are derived from those by John Tenniel in the original 1866 publication but digitally manipulated to include text from the source material. Her accompanying artist statement documents in exquisite and humorous detail the numerous dead ends she encountered trying to bring the project to fruition.

“This project was so much fun, but I almost gave up on it, as so much was going wrong. It began with erasing lines in the illustrations but after visiting the collection a second time I thought ‘Why not put them on wood—even though I’m an English major and have no idea how to do that!’” Collier cheerfully admitted in accepting the award in an online ceremony on Friday, April 23.

The second-place prize went to Cinematic Arts student Alexis Patton for La Nouvelle Alice. The black-and-white film, inspired by both 1960s French New Wave cinema and existentialists such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, was shot with long takes, using natural light on location throughout downtown Los Angeles.

The Bellman’s Prize, named after one of the characters in Carroll’s nonsense poem “The Hunting of the Snark,” went to Carlyn Flint for her submission “Wonderland Isn’t Real.” The full-length play is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and features a struggling nine-year-old boy whose mother is incarcerated, but who tells him she’s in Wonderland in order to help him cope. The Bellman’s Prize recognizes particularly Carrollian, creative risk-taking in a student work.

The Wonderland Award is an annual competition, established in 2005 by USC Libraries Board of Councilors member Linda Cassady, showcasing the interpretive talents of students from USC and other Southern California institutions as they transform the life and works of Lewis Carroll into new creative and scholarly works. All student submissions become a permanent part of the G. Edward Cassady, MD, and Margaret Elizabeth Cassady, RN, Lewis Carroll collection, which Linda’s husband Dr. George Cassady ’55 donated to the USC Libraries in 2000 and from which students draw inspiration and raw material for their Wonderland entries.

The awards were the capstone to the first day of a virtual meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. The conference, with 300 registered attendees, included a presentation by the 2019 Wonderland Award winner Joe Cadagin, who discussed Alice’s appearance in opera, as well as recent USC PhD graduate Amanda Kennell interviewing the renowned Japanese collector of Carrollian material Yoshi Momma. The meeting also featured a new digital experience for attendees to view past Wonderland entries in an immersive 3D environment built on the Mozilla Hubs platform by members of the USC Libraries Ahmanson Lab (gallery #1 and gallery #2).

Several judges in addition to award sponsor Linda Cassady assessed the Wonderland Award submissions: Peter Hanff, deputy director of UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library; poet and USC professor of English, Molly Bendall; USC professor of Architecture Lisa Little; Carrollian scholar Catherine Richards; and Brianna Beehler, who earned second prize in the 2019 competition.

For more information about the award and the Cassady Lewis Carroll Collection, visit libraries.usc.edu/wonderland.