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A Study in Characterization Part 1 of 5

A recurring trend in YA literature and film and television today is to pull from well-known stories as source material. Rick Riordan used Greek mythology for the Percy Jackson series, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson used the classic children’s story Peter Pan, for their Peter and the Starcatchers series, and Gail Carson Levine adapted the fairy tale “Cinderella” in Ella Enchanted. Much like fanfiction, these retellings allow authors to manipulate well-known characters and stories to create something new. In their article, “On the Origin of Adaptations: Rethinking Fidelity Discourse and ‘Success’ — Biologically,” Gary R. Bortolotti and Linda Hutcheon discuss…

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A Study in Characterization Part 5 of 5

All three retellings examined in this series are trading on the legacy of Alice that started with Lewis Carroll’s story to entertain three little girls. What came of it was a classic children’s story, but one that is confined by the conventions of children’s literature. The Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are limited in their characterization. The reader is never told their backgrounds or given any hints at their futures. They are largely one-dimensional. …

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Down the Rabbit Hole: Retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — A Study in Characterization Part 4 of 5

Most retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, like Splintered, feature a Hatter who is mad, but some retellings, like the television series Once Upon a Time, creates a dynamic Mad Hatter character by placing the madness on the periphery. In the show, the Evil Queen Regina has cursed fairy tale characters by bringing them to the real world without magic where they forget who they are. Their only hope for salvation is Emma, who has the power to break the curse if she chooses to believe in magic. Each episode is split between detailing a character’s past in the Enchanted…

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Down the Rabbit Hole: Retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — A Study in Characterization Part 3 of 5

The Mad Hatter’s madness is taken for granted by modern audiences of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its retellings, even though Lewis Carroll never labeled the Hatter as mad. What Carroll did, was set the Hatter up for madness. In the chapter leading up to the Hatter’s introduction, the Cheshire Cat tells Alice that both the Hatter and the March Hare are mad. The reader is given a preconceived notion about the Hatter’s character from not only the Cheshire Cat, but also from the historical knowledge that professional hatters in Carroll’s time went mad because they used mercury in their…

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Down the Rabbit Hole: Retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — A Study in Characterization Part 2 of 5

YA author Marissa Meyer is not new to the realm of retellings. Her bestselling series, The Lunar Chronicles, feature retellings of classic fairy tales, including “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” and “Rapunzel.” Her standalone novel, Heartless, tells the origin story of the Queen of Hearts from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story follows Lady Catherine Pinkerton, a young girl whose dream is to own a bakery. Courted by the king, she instead falls for his court jester, but ultimately gives up her heart to become the evil Queen of Hearts from Carroll’s story. …

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My experience teaching through Zoom

Small black boxes fill my screen. Each one is labeled with a name in white lettering, but give no other identifying features. The microphone symbol in the bottom left corner has a bright red slash through it clearly indicating the lack of participation I should expect. I have no way to know what is on the other side of the screen. Are they female? Male? Old? Young?

I know, intellectually, that none of this matters. I’m there to assess skills not personalities. Still, it’s unnerving to stare into a sea of empty spaces. …

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Confessions of a Secondary School Teacher: Part V

During the fall months, my students found it necessary to miss up to a week of school. It was the height of hunting season. I couldn’t understand this need but then again, I grew up in the city. We didn’t go hunting. Or at least, my family didn’t.

Students would come brandishing the salmon colored paper I was supposed to sign like it was the golden ticket for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Most students didn’t care about missing work. It didn’t matter what I wrote on their ticket, they weren’t going to worry about school until they got back.


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And what I’m doing about it

I recently made a post lamenting my previous high paying employment with a wedding on the horizon. It was meant to be an affirmation of sorts. A kind of self-care for my soul. Instead, the universe had left me with my hand poised in the air ready for a slap of congratulations and getting none. What it did give me was clarity. I have an unhealthy relationship with money. This isn’t to say that I overspend, max out my credit cards, and avoid collection calls. I am rather smart with my money. …

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How I lost a friendship in 2020

In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the titular character contemplates life in the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

In translation, Hamlet is basically asking if it is better to suffer and live or to die. In 2020, this speech gained new meaning for me as I navigated the precarious waters of online discourse. …

Elizabeth Wilks

When she’s not writing at the coffee shop, cuddling with her cat, or watching bad reality television, you can find her traveling to new and familiar places.

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