Amanda Lastoria Earns the First Publishing PhD in North America


“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”

Mahima Bhagwat
MPub 2019/20

On November 13, 2019 Amanda Lastoria successfully defended her PhD thesis—The Material Evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: How Book Design and Production Values Impact the Markets for and the Meanings of the Text—and became the first person to be awarded a PhD in Publishing by a North American university.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland – Little Simon edition
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 2003. Published by Little Simon, New York.
This copy Lastoria’s collection. Photos by Lastoria.

After completing a master’s program in publishing at Oxford Brookes University (U.K.), Dr. Lastoria worked in publishing houses in the U.K. and Toronto for some years before approaching SFU with the intention to pursue a PhD.

Her doctoral research explored the industrial mediation of the text via the materiality, and material evolution, of the book. Using 46 editions of a single title—Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865 – 2015)—as a case study, Dr. Lastoria documented, historicized and interrogated the ways in which the design and production values of the book multiply and diversify the markets for and the meanings of the text. Her project combined methods and tools of bibliography, book history, publishing history, literary theory, and design practice.

Among many other groundbreaking findings that resulted from Dr. Lastoria’s research, she was also the first to recover author Lewis Carroll as the art director of the Victorian editions of Alice.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland – Miniature edition, Macmilan
Miniature Edition Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1907. Published by Macmillan, London. This copy (1908 reprint) Lastoria’s personal collection. Photos by Lastoria.

Explore more of Dr. Lastoria’s research about Carroll’s art directorial role or read her doctoral thesis for further fascinating facts about Alice.

You can also find Dr. Lastoria on Twitter @amandalastoria

Apply to the MPub Program