Concordia Seal

 


Joel D. Heck

 

REL 3361, The Writings of CS Lewis

STUDENT SYLLABUS

I.    REL 3361 THE WRITINGS OF C. S. LEWIS

studies the life, the works, the literary criticism, the themes, and the thought of C. S. Lewis, with attention to the various literary genres within which Lewis wrote. In addition to serving as an Honors course, this course will serve as a religion elective and be eligible to meet part of the religion requirement in the core. It may also be taken for English credit within the English major. Prerequisite:  An introductory literature course.

II.    GENERAL OBJECTIVE

The general objective of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the contributions of C. S. Lewis to literature, philosophy, theology, and their impact especially on American Protestantism.

III.    LEARNING ACTIVITIES

A.  Reading selected writings of C. S. Lewis within the eight major genres in which C. S. Lewis wrote, i.e., children’s fiction, adult fiction, Christian topics, poetry, philosophy, literary history, and criticism, autobiography, and correspondence.
B.  Class lectures and discussions.
C.  Memorization of key events in the life of C. S. Lewis to provide a framework within which to study his writings. Quiz on this material.
D.  Viewing of Shadowlands and another videotape, either “Through Joy and Beyond” or “The Magic Never Ends.” Written, two-page reactions to these two videos are assigned, approximately half summary of the contents and half reaction and critique. The latter two videotapes will be on reserve in the library.
E.  Research paper on an aspect of the life or the writings of Lewis for presentation to the class during the last week of the semester. The research paper must:

1. Be constructed in an orderly manner;
2. Show that you understand the basic material presented in the course and can use outside references;
3. Make use of quotations (two to five per page is a good guideline) give proper credit,
4. Follow MLA or Turabian (Chicago Manual of Style);
5. Be 7-10 pages long;
6. Have a clear focus and argue for a definite position or conclusion;
7. Be written carefully so that the final product is clear, avoids redundancy and filler, and is correct in spelling and grammar;
8. Typewritten, double-spaced; include a bibliography; no more than thirty percent of your bibliography may be from the Internet;
9. Topic: The research papers will be a group project on the subject of the authenticity of “The Dark Tower.” One group will advocate the authenticity of “The Dark Tower,” while the other group will argue that it is a forgery.
10. Be presented in class with the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation. Each side will be assigned one entire class period to make its presentation, and a portion of the class period will be set aside for questioning.

NOTE:  Research papers that do not come up to the standards of #1-8 above will be turned back without a grade for your correction and resubmission. I will gladly look at, make comments on, and/or discuss a first draft with you before the due date. Since late papers will disrupt the entire end of the semester schedule, your grade will be lowered by one-third (e.g., from a B to a B-) for each day your paper is late, unless you find another student with whom you can exchange positions.

F.   Outline of Perelandra, consisting of …

1. Five quotations (one from about one-fourth of the chapters) that you think express a crucial intellectual or spiritual thought in the chapter,
2. Five paragraphs (one for each quotation) explaining the significance of the quotation. These can be 25-50 words in length.

G.  Writing an additional letter to The Screwtape Letters.

IV.    ATTENDANCE POLICY

Attendance at every class session is expected of every student, except when necessity demands otherwise. Every absence, whether excused or unexcused, must be explained to the instructor in writing by the next period in which the student returns to class.

V.    EVALUATION PROCEDURES

    A.    Quiz on the life of C. S. Lewis        5%
    B.    Three Unit Exams                        60%
    C.    Homework Assignments             10%
(class discussions, written film reaction, Screwtape letter)
    D.    Research Project                         25%
    E.    Final Exam                                  (10%)

VI.    PRINCIPLE UNITS OF THE COURSE

Unit I: The Life and Letters of C. S. Lewis

This unit will cover the life of Lewis, the development of the author Lewis, and the place of his voluminous correspondence in his life. Readings will include selections from Surprised by Joy and The Letters of C. S. Lewis. This unit will include a slide-show visit to Oxford to see where Lewis taught (Magdalen College), where he lived, where he worshiped, and the pub in which the Inklings met (“The Eagle and the Child”). We will view the videos Shadowlands and Through Joy and Beyond: The Life of C. S. Lewis.

Unit II:    Children’s and Adult Fiction

This unit discovers the sanctified imagination of Lewis, which enabled him to write for both children and adults. Students read, view, and discuss The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Silver Chair and The Magician’s Nephew (children’s fiction from “The Chronicles of Narnia”). The role of imagination in the Christian life will be discussed in the light of talking animals and the Christ-figure Aslan. Perelandra (adult fiction).
 

Unit III: Christian Topics

This unit covers selected portions of Lewis’s writings on Christian topics. Selections will be read from Mere Christianity, Undeceptions, Christian Reflections, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, The Screwtape Letters (probably Lewis’ best-selling serious book), The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, Reflections on the Psalms, and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. It will include discussion of Lewis’s views on such topics as naturalism and supernaturalism, God and creation, revelation, sin and temptation, atheism and agnosticism, suffering, and prayer.

Unit IV: Poetry, Philosophy, Literary History, Theory, and Criticism

In the fourth unit students read the complete The Abolition of Man (philosophy), selections from Poems, and selections from An Experiment in Criticism, They Asked for a Paper, The Allegory of Love, Studies in Words, and other Lewis writings.

Tentative Assignment Schedule

Introduction

    August 25    The Syllabus and the Course

The Life and Letters of C. S. Lewis

This unit will cover the life of Lewis, the development of the author Lewis, and the place of his voluminous correspondence in his life. Readings will include selections from Surprised by Joy and The Letters of C. S. Lewis. This unit will include a slide-show visit to Oxford to see where he taught (Magdalen College) and lived (The Kilns).

August 27    A first glimpse of C. S. Lewis, Lewis and the Internet, The early life of C. S. Lewis
August 29    The life of C. S. Lewis, Philip Ryken, “Winsome Evangelist: The Influence of C. S. Lewis” in
Menuge (pp. 55-73)
September 1    No Class, Labor Day
September 3    The life of C. S. Lewis: Surprised by Joy, “The First Years,” “The Great Knock” (read Dorsett,
pages 23-38)
September 5    The life of Lewis: Surprised by Joy, “The New Look,” and “Checkmate,” slide presentation (read Dorsett, pages 39-50)
September 8    Introduction to “The Dark Tower” controversy (read “The Dark Tower,” and the notes by Walter Hooper, pages 7-98), Introduction to research project
September 10    The life of Lewis, Michael Ward, “Escape to Wallaby Wood: Lewis’s Depictions of Conversion” (pp. 143-164)
September 12    The later life of C. S. Lewis, The Letters of C. S. Lewis (read Dorsett, pages 51-56 and 521-532,
Quiz on the Life of C. S. Lewis)
September 15    Shadowlands
September 17    Discussion of Shadowlands, Wayne Martindale in Menuge (pp. 31-50)
September 19    Unit I Exam

Children’s Fiction

This unit discovers the sanctified imagination of Lewis, which enabled him to write to both children and adults. Students read and discuss The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew. The role of imagination in the Christian life will be discussed in the light of talking animals and the Christ-figure Aslan.

September 22    Introduction to Children’s Fiction, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Dorsett, pp. 62-139)
September 24    Discussion of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; start on The Magician’s Nephew
September 26    The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength)

Adult Fiction

The unit continues with an introduction to the Space Trilogy. We read Perelandra, contained in the Dorsett volume, and discuss it.

September 29    The Magician’s Nephew (Read the entire book; this assignment has been exchanged with the introduction to the Space Trilogy to allow more time for reading the book.)
October 1    “Meditation in a Toolshed” (This reading will be done in class. This assignment has been exchanged with the reading of Perelandra to allow more time for reading the book.)

Christian Topics

This unit covers selected portions of Lewis’s writings on Christian topics. Selections will be read from Mere Christianity, Undeceptions, Christian Reflections, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, The Screwtape Letters (probably Lewis’ best-selling serious book), The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, Reflections on the Psalms, and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. It will include discussion of Lewis’s views on such topics as naturalism and supernaturalism, God and creation, revelation, sin and temptation, atheism and agnosticism, suffering, and prayer.

October 3    “The Weight of Glory” and “The World’s Last Night” (pp. 361-370, 383-392, see  Study Questions)
October 6    Perelandra (read the entire book, written assignment due according to page one of the syllabus, Learning Activities, F., 1 & 2; do Study Questions)
October 8    “God in the Dock” and “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” (pp. 326-329, 349-360, Study Questions on each reading)
October 10    The Screwtape Letters (Dorsett, pp. 297-304, your Screwtape letter is due, see Learning Activities, G., see attached page of Study Questions)
October 13    No Classes—Fall Break

October 15    Unit II Exam

Christian Topics/Poetry, Philosophy, Literary History, Theory, and Criticism

In this unit students read the complete The Abolition of Man (philosophy), selections from Poems, and selections from They Asked for a Paper, The Allegory of Love, Studies in Words, and other Lewis writings. We will hear a portion of the only published recording of the voice of C. S. Lewis.

October 17    Reflections on the Psalms and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, “The Efficacy of Prayer” (pp. 378-382, 393-406, 407-411, see  Study Questions)
October 20    Dr. Angus Menuge on The Abolition of Man, Jerry Root, “C. S. Lewis and the Problem of Evil” (pp. 353-364)
October 22    “De Descriptione Temporum,” Miracles (pp. 471-481, 334-343)
October 24    English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (Dorsett, pp. 484-487)
October 27    Studies in Words, The Four Loves (skim pages 488-499),
October 29    Christopher Mitchell in Menuge, “University Battles: C. S. Lewis and the Oxford University Socratic Club” (329-348)
October 31    A Grief Observed (A Love Observed)
November 3    Mere Christianity, Book I
November 5    Mere Christianity, Book II
November 7    Mere Christianity, Book III, plus the pages in Dorsett that do not duplicate this reading
November 10    Mere Christianity, Book IV
November 12    No Class, Instructor’s Absence

Other Works of C. S. Lewis

The student will be briefly introduced to some of the other major works of Lewis.

November 14    No Class, Instructor’s Absence
November 17    No Class, Instructor’s Absence; The Great Divorce, The Personal Heresy
November 19    Till We Have Faces, An Experiment in Criticism
November 21    The Discarded Image, The Pilgrim’s Regress
November 24    Lewis on Education (Dorsett, “Learning in War-Time,” pp. 371-377)
November 26    Unit III Exam
November 28    No Class, Thanksgiving Break

Student Presentations

This until will contain student presentations, based on the research they have done. Student reaction and discussion is important to the success of these presentations.
 
December 1    Student Presentations
December 3    Student Presentations
December 5    Student Presentations

Week Sixteen: Final Exams (December 8-12)

VII.    TEXTBOOKS (*denotes Founders Library holdings)

    Required

  Dorsett, Lyle W., ed. The Essential C. S. Lewis. New York: Macmillan, 1988.
*Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan, 1952.
  Lewis, C. S. The Dark Tower and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1977.
 *Lewis, C. S. The Magician’s Nephew. New York: Macmillan, 1955.
  Menuge, Angus, ed. C. S. Lewis: Lightbearer in the Shadowlands. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997.
*Vanauken, Sheldon. A Severe Mercy. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980.