Sara Pankenier Weld, UC, Santa Barbara och Institutionen för kultur och estetik, SU

“Through Nabokov’s Looking-Glass: Nabokov’s Transfigurations of Alice from Ania to Ada.” 

In her talk entitled “Through Nabokov’s Looking-Glass: Nabokov’s Transfigurations of Alice from Ania to Ada,” Sara Pankenier Weld argues that Nabokov’s inspired translation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which he completed in his young adulthood and before he became established as a writer, not only offers a fascinating counterpoint to his later theories and practice of translation, but also left a lifelong influence on his oeuvre. As she avers, Nabokov continually transfigures Alice in his later works, where concrete references, subtle allusions, overarching themes, and deeper structures in many Nabokov novels, spanning from the beginning to the end of his career, regularly hearken back to Carroll’s Alice books. The substance of this children’s classic, not to mention the model provided by its young feminine heroine, thus display how significant childhood can be in the evaluation of Nabokov’s texts for adults, as well as in literary or modernist studies in general.


Sara Pankenier Weld is an Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, although she has been a Guest Researcher in Comparative Literature at Stockholm University in 2018-2019 during a sabbatical leave. Her publications include the books Voiceless Vanguard: The Infantilist Aesthetic of the Russian Avant-Garde (Northwestern University Press, 2014) and An Ecology of the Russian Avant-Garde Picturebook (John Benjamins, 2018), as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters in international venues. Her interdisciplinary interests, which range across literature, visuality, culture, and theory, include Russian, Scandinavian, and comparative literature and demonstrate an ongoing focus on childhood, children’s literature, and picturebooks. She is currently working on a book manuscript on Nabokov and childhood, in which some of the material in this talk figures.