REL 3361, The
Writings of CS Lewis
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
on the life of C. S. Lewis 5%
B. Three Unit Exams
(class discussions, written film reaction, Screwtape letter)
D. Research Project
E. Final Exam
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.
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
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
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,
September 5 The life of Lewis: Surprised by Joy,
“The New Look,” and “Checkmate,” slide presentation (read Dorsett, pages
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
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)
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.)
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,
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.
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
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
November 21 The Discarded Image, The Pilgrim’s
November 24 Lewis on Education (Dorsett, “Learning in
War-Time,” pp. 371-377)
November 26 Unit III Exam
November 28 No Class, Thanksgiving Break
This until will contain student presentations, based on the research they
have done. Student reaction and discussion is important to the success of
December 1 Student Presentations
December 3 Student Presentations
December 5 Student Presentations
Week Sixteen: Final Exams (December 8-12)
TEXTBOOKS (*denotes Founders Library holdings)
Dorsett, Lyle W., ed. The Essential C. S. Lewis. New York:
*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,