ACMI Conversations ACMI Presents

Interpreting Alice

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There are innumerable theories of Alice, Wonderland and the characters she meets along the way.

Was Lewis Carroll inspired by hallucinogens? Reacting to new maths standards? Or having a personal identity crisis?

Perhaps the way we see the text tells us as much as our ourselves as it does about the enigmatic author.

Join us for a lively dissection of the text's myriad meanings with science communicator Stephanie Pradier, psychedelic VR artist Roger Essig and psychologist Professor Nick Haslam, hosted by author and critic Mel Campbell.

About the speakers

Mel Campbell

Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and critic who co-hosts the fortnightly literature and culture podcast The Rereaders. 

Mel is a columnist on writing at Overland magazine, a lecturer in Editing and Publishing at La Trobe University, and a writer on film, TV and media at Junkee, The Big Issue, Crikey, Metro, The Guardian and more. Her first book was the nonfiction investigation Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit (Affirm Press, 2013), and she’s the co-author of the romantic comedy novel The Hot Guy (Echo Publishing, 2017).  

Roger Essig

Roger Essig has shown his virtual reality psychedelic experience to several thousand people at White Night, Rainbow Serpent Festival, Pausefest and many other parties, festivals and events since 2014. He has given several talks on the interplay of virtual reality, psychedelics and lucid dreaming at Melbourne's Media Lab and Darwin Film Festival. He currently is experimenting with long exposure light painting with a customised drone and fossicking for gold and gemstones in victorian creeks to use in his artworks. He has talked openly about responsible psychedelic drug utilisation since 1999. 

Professor Nick Haslam 

Nick Haslam is Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne. A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Nick received his PhD in clinical and social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, and taught at the New School for Social Research in New York for several years before returning to Australia in 2002. Nick's research interests include personality, social perception and psychiatric classification, and he has published extensively in these areas. In addition to his academic writing Nick contributes regularly to The Conversation, where he is a columnist, and Australian Book Review, and he has also written for The Monthly, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Australian and two Best Australian Science Writing anthologies. Nick is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, a former member of the ARC College, a former Head of the School of Psychological Sciences at this university, and current President of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists.   

Stephanie Pradier 

Stephanie Pradier is the communications manager at the Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information. Prior to this, she worked as a science communication manager at Monash University and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. Stephanie is a vibrant, versatile science communicator, who combined a BA degree in philosophy and journalism with a rigorous foundation in mathematics and physics obtained in her BSc. When she is not at her day job, you can find her at the gym lifting something really heavy, at her local drinking something really hoppy or on her front steps writing something really pithy. Insightful thinking, playful ideas and asking questions and questioning the answers is imperative if we want to understand the world and the human conditions we impose on it. Stephanie loves how science and communication, at their heart, force us to do this. It is also what drew her to revisit Wonderland.