This essay tests how Lewis Carroll’s Alice books might bridge four potentially disparate approaches to literary analysis: thing theory, animal studies, actor-network theory, and food studies. Expanding the investigation of objects and “things” in literature beyond a human/thing dichotomy, I draw on the actor-network theory (ANT) of Bruno Latour to explore the entanglement of humans, objects, animals, and appetites that generates so much of the wonder in Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871). I argue that these texts attempt to reconcile the Victorian destabilization of discrete “human” and “animal” categories facilitated by evolutionary theory with an increasingly commodified culture where everything and everyone seem potentially consumable. The Alice books give us “things” in networks, but networks that supersede, and have utility beyond, the human. Eating, I propose, is our way into these networks. I show how Carroll presents a world that is both fully social and thoroughly objectified, where humans, animals, and objects trade, share, and fight for positions in a network of edible things.
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