Lewis Carroll's Oxford and the Surprising Histories of Alice's Wonderland


Many myths have sprung up around one of Oxford’s most famous export: Alice in Wonderland. But what are the real origins of the unlikely children’s tale penned by an Oxford lecturer in mathematics? This course will explore Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, their origins in Oxford – town and gown, its architecture, personalities, hidden histories and controversies. It will also cast a look beyond Oxford, to Alice’s further adventures in art and popular culture, science and politics, to, finally, take a fresh look at the question of why, 150 years later, Alice is still so fascinating to us.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

We will begin the course with an exploration of the lives of Alice, and Lewis Carroll in the context of the place in which the Alice books originated: Christ Church, and the city of Oxford. On this journey, within and beyond the classroom, we will encounter uncannily familiar faces and locations from mock turtles to girls with astoundingly long necks, to quirky shops formerly owned by an old sheep.

The second part of the course will explore the fascinating origins of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Following the often unexpected path from the story’s first telling to manuscript and publication, it will re-examine the story’s plot and characters in a fresh light.

As the often less-discussed of the two Alice books, Through the Looking Glass - the book Carroll wrote emboldened by the success of its predecessor - however, provides perhaps even more interesting insights to the author, his times and opinions, which the third part of this course will uncover.

Alice and its cultural history - Science, Religion, children’s literature in the Victorian age – will zoom out, and reconsider the contribution of the Alice books to the genre of children’s literature, but also to Victorian culture, in which Alice’s author, a clergyman, mathematician, and amateur scientist wore many hats. It will challenge us to rethink the question: was Alice really just a children’s book?
Visit on foot to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Where Alice went next: the final session will explore Alice’s further adventures beyond her novels, from her immediate sojourns onto the theatrical stage, to political caricature, to silent film, its role in the world wars – and recovery from them, to modern multimedia popular culture, videogames and music, to dwell on why, more than 150 years after its creation, we are still so fascinated with the book extemporised on a sunny afternoon for a little girl in Oxford.

Field trip
Destination: Oxford University Museum of Natural History    
Website: https://www.oumnh.ox.ac.uk
Excursion rating: Easy - up to an hour’s walk on even ground or less than half an hour’s walk on uneven/unpaved ground.



Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1635.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1120.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.


Dr Franziska Kohlt


Dr Franziska Kohlt is an expert on Lewis Carroll and a scholar of Victorian literature, and the history of science. She holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, and works as a researcher and tutor at the University of York

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:


Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.