Along with the Mad Hatter, the Rabbit, the Mock Turtle and other beloved characters from Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll created a surprising world in which the normal rules don’t apply. This world has inspired filmmakers like Tim Burton and Jan Svankmajer, visual artists like Salvador Dalí and the creators of numerous graphic novels, video games and works of science fiction. A polymath and inventor with an eclectic mind, Carroll also taught math at Oxford. He drew inspiration from his pioneering studies of logic and geometry while creating the fictional world of Alice. Join us for a multidisciplinary discussion featuring science writer Margaret Wertheim, mathematics professor Francis Bonahon and English professor Jim Kincaid. Following the discussion, Wertheim and Bonahon will lead an experimental play/workshop where participants can make and play with absurd mathematical objects, such as the Möbius strip and the hyperbolic plane, dating from the mathematical revolution of Carroll’s time.
Margaret Wertheim is the author of Pythagoras’ Trousers, a history of the relationship between physics and religion, and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Sciences, New Scientist, the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Salon and Wired. In 2003, Wertheim and her twin sister, Christine, founded the Institute For Figuring, an innovative Los Angeles–based organization devoted to enhancing public engagement with the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.
Francis Bonahon is a professor of mathematics at the USC Dornsife College. His research focuses on topology and geometry, with an emphasis on two- and three-dimensional spaces. His work includes publications on hyperbolic geometry and quantum topology, and his research is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Jim Kincaid is the Aerol Arnold Chair in English and a professor of English at the USC Dornsife College. He researches critical theory, American studies and queer studies. He teaches classes in criminality, lunacy and perversion, age studies, censorship and other areas of literary, political and cultural studies.
Organized by the USC Academy for Polymathic Study and the USC Libraries, which present the Wonderland Award—a multidisciplinary competition that encourages new scholarship and creative work related to Lewis Carroll. More information about the Wonderland Award is available online at www.usc.edu/libraries/wonderland.
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