Call For Papers: C. S. Lewis and Friends Colloquium, Taylor University, June 4-7, 2020

I want to share the Call for Papers for one of my favourite conferences (which I describe here and here). The topic is intriguing, calling upon Dorothy L. Sayers’ 1938 essay, “Are Women Human?” I’ll also note that there is one space for a reviewer of the recently released volume that came from the 2018 conference. Send me an email at junkola[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested.

Are WomEn Human (Yet)?
Gender and the Inklings
C. S. Lewis & Friends Colloquium
Taylor University
June 4-7, 2020

JOIN US for our 12th Biennial C. S. Lewis & Friends Colloquium, June 4-7, 2020. Sponsored by Taylor University’s Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis & Friends, the Colloquium features keynote addresses from top scholars in the field, plus hundreds of presentations of both original scholarship and original creative work in paper sessions, workshops, panel discussions, performances, artist exhibitions, and much more. The Colloquium welcomes scholars, teachers, students, life-long learners, fans, seekers, and, as always, new friends to be part of our adventurous company. For the first time in our history, and as part of our mission to identify and support the next generation of friends, the Colloquium will feature a one-day pre-conference especially for “Young Inklings” on June 3.

Of course, this liveliest of conferences will have its usual dramatic performances, board games, late night singalongs, tea and biscuits,  and the return of the fabulous pop-up bookstore by Eighth Day Books. In addition, The 2020 Colloquium will also once again include the opportunity to buy used and rare copies of books by Lewis & Friends authors. Come discover why Devin Brown says “The Taylor University Lewis Colloquium is the premier Inklings conference on the planet, with something for every level of scholar.”

Plenary Speakers: We are happy to announce that our plenary speakers for 2020 include Monika Hilder, Jane Chance, Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson, Don King, Diana Glyer, Jason Lepojärvi, and Charles Huttar.

Conference Theme: The 2020 Colloquium program will highlight the specific theme of “Are WomEn Human (Yet)? Gender and the Inklings.” Over eighty years after Dorothy L. Sayers first posed her startling question (and in honor of the centennial of woman’s suffrage), we think it is high time to acknowledge and celebrate women in the lives and works of authors like C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Dorothy L. Sayers, and George MacDonald, but also to look carefully at their attitudes towards and relationships with women. We also hope to encourage new scholarship on individuals such as Ruth Pitter, Joy Davidman, Mary Neylan, Barbara Reynolds, Louisa and Lilia MacDonald, Ida Gordon, Katherine Farrer, Sister Penelope, Anne Ridler, and others whose contributions have been insufficiently noticed and/or undervalued in the shadow of their more famous friends. In keynote addresses, panel discussions, paper presentations, and creative work of all kinds, we will explore together these topics and many others. As always, papers on more general topics are also encouraged.

Call for Papers: We invite proposals for scholarly papers on any topic related to C. S. Lewis and his circle (broadly defined) – Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and others. We are especially interested in papers on the conference theme, papers that expand the horizons of previous scholarship, and papers from new and emerging scholars. We also invite creative work—poetry, fiction, essay, drama, film, visual art, musical composition—that responds to or is influenced by the conference theme and/or these authors.  Proposals should be 100-200 words in length and should anticipate a twenty-minute presentation time limit.  Creative work must be a complete work, rather than a proposalDeadline for proposals is February 15, 2020. All proposals will be considered on a rotating basis.

Complete information, including submission instructions, will be available soon at our website: Direct all proposal-related questions to Please address all other questions to

Young Inklings Pre-Conference: College and university undergraduates are invited to the first-ever “Young Inklings” event on June 3. The complete student registration package will include lodging, meals, and the events of that day, as well as the main conference. Students will have the opportunity to attend special lectures and participate in workshops with leading scholars, as well as to present their own scholarly and creative work. Work submitted for the student writings contests (see below) will be considered for presentation at both the pre-conference and the Colloquium.

Student Essay Contest: Currently enrolled undergraduate students may submit complete critical essays on the work of C. S. Lewis or a related author (see Call for Papers above for further information). Essays should not exceed ten double-spaced pages, excluding Works Cited. Winners will present their papers at the Colloquium and will receive free registration, room, and board. First place will receive a cash award as well. Deadline for student essays is March 1, 2020. For further information and submission instructions, please see our website at

Student Creative Writing Contest: Currently enrolled undergraduate students may submit creative writing (poetry, prose, drama, creative non-fiction, graphic novels, screenplays, etc.). Submissions should not exceed ten double-spaced pages (and should be at least five pages). The creative works should show familiarity with and influence by (or response to) the works of C. S. Lewis and his circle (broadly defined). Winners will present their papers at the Colloquium and will receive free registration, room, and board. First place will receive a cash award as well. Deadline for student creative work is March 1, 2020. For further information and submission instructions, please see our website at

Keep in Mind: The best way to be aware of Colloquium news and updates is to pay attention to our new website:[Note: We are currently undergoing a redesign of our website. The current website contains all necessary information, but you will notice an updated format soon.] Colloquium announcements and other important information will also be added regularly on our Facebook page (please “like” to make sure you are in the loop):

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
This entry was posted in News & Links and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Call For Papers: C. S. Lewis and Friends Colloquium, Taylor University, June 4-7, 2020

  1. Thanks so much for the heads up!!!


  2. Dale Nelson says:

    “Gender and the Inklings” — hasn’t this been done already?

    But, to stick just to Lewis, I can think of several underexplored topics. They are underexplored why? Well, most CSL scholarship is done by North Americans, and, from what I have seen, North American scholars are generally content to “approach” Lewis equipped with fairly sketchy knowledge of the literature in which he was professionally and personally immersed, and have little interest in, or curiosity about, his background aside from a perhaps romantic notion of Oxford. Basically they assume they know what they need to know, without reading for themselves. They are complacent and satisfied with the received notions they encountered in college.*

    1.CSL and Northern Ireland
    2.CSL and the philosophical works with which he was most engaged as reader and tutor. There has been some work done here, but is this matter exhausted? If not — who will do the reading?
    3.CSL and ancient, medieval, and early modern literature — You almost never run across anything by someone who actually seems to know well, say, Prudentius or Tasso and, so, would be well prepared to discuss Lewis’s reading of such. Scholars are content with second-hand information here. I don’t say nothing has yet done been on this enormous subject — of course things have been — but surely there is a great deal that might yet turn up if North American absorption of so much of these literatures was not so very incomplete.
    4.CSL and science fiction fandom — From what I have seen, Lewis married a woman who, in America and then when she came to London, was at the least on the edges of science fiction fandom. I don’t suppose Joy ever contributed to a fanzine, but Stateside she was, I believe, part of a pro-and-fannish circle associated with Fletcher Pratt, and, in London, I believe she connected with “John Christopher” (Sam Youd, a real fan-into-pro story there), Arthur C. Clarke, a rocketry-and-fiction club, etc.; and Lewis had some awareness at least of them. I imagine that it was from Joy’s collection that some sf and horror books came into the Lewis library (e.g. the Arkham House collection by “Psycho” author Robert Bloch). There may well be lots of interesting things to learn here.

    But all of these would require scholars to spend perhaps years learning information and letting their imaginations be stirred by a deep acquaintance with books they have not read and might not get professional strokes for reading, etc. Because of this and because of the complacency that I think I perceive, I don’t expect much will be done with any of these four areas in years ahead.

    Dale Nelson

    *This is an impression — not testimony under oath. It’s based on things such as the articles in Mythlore, conference titles, and so on.


    • Thanks for the careful response! Without making a comment about what is limited in Lewis scholarship, I think those are some great ideas for future scholarship that emerging scholars should attend to. As you probably know, I wrote a very lengthy chapter in the Inklings & Arthur book arguing for careful attention to Lewis’ use of other texts–both in method and content.
      I will say, though, that I am not convinced that all has been said about Lewis & Gender. That you suggest a weakness in Lewis’ reading shows that whatever has been said about Lewis & Gender needs scrutiny (if you are correct).


      • Dale Nelson says:

        “That you suggest a weakness in Lewis’ reading” — I did? But of course you’re on to something, perhaps a fifth topic, and that is “What Lewis Didn’t Read” —

        Obviously he was astonishingly well read; but the “discovery” of Russian literature was underway when he was a young man (e.g. the Constance Garnett translations were more widely available, & then Oxford UP began to publish the Maude translations of Tolstoy) — it’s known that CSL read The Brothers Karamazov and War and Peace — and liked them — but that seems to have been all that he did read by the two famous titans. Aside from other major works by them, one would have thought he might have loved some of Turgenev’s Sportsman’s Sketches (“Bezhin Meadows”!), and some of Chekhov (oh, if only he had read “The Steppe”), and Aksakov (Years of Childhood), and more. Oh, I think maybe he read Dr. Zhivago.

        Well, if he didn’t read some of these things, we might wonder why… but that might be more a matter of speculation than of scholarship.


        • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

          Do ‘we’ know what translation(s) of War and Peace Lewis read? I think both Lewis brothers were good Francophones – might he have read it (one time or other) in French?
          A quick look at its French Wikipedia article shows four translations available during his lifetime.

          Williams was (as far as I know) considerably involved with the OUP Maudes Tolstoy undertaking – one can imagine if Tolstoy were mentioned in ‘Inklings’ conversation, Williams could have had a lot to say – and put Lewis onto (one way or another).

          Lewis told Martin Lings (in effect) he wished he, like Lings, could also read Persian, as he’d heard such good things of Persian poetry.

          Indeed, Lewis & Languages is another good topic calling for more investigation (as far as I know – I know I am curious but insufficiently imformed about Lewis’s mastery of German, for one not insignificant thing…).


        • Hi Dale, I responded right away to this, but it disappeared.
          So, I didn’t mean a weakness in C.S. Lewis’ reading–though there are some weaknesses. That he called Karl Barth a terrible human being, for example, shows how limited he was and yet speaking about it.
          But I actually meant something else. I meant “a limitation in Lewis readers”–i.e., we as critics and readers aren’t exploring all the possibilties you suggested. So in rereading according to what you said will require rethinking in other areas. For example, if we aren’t accounting for his medieval-ness, we will misread his understanding of gender.


          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            Taking up your example – I’d need to search further – but are you thinking among other things of C.S. Lewis to Warren (18 February 1940) referring to “a dreadful man called Karl Barth”? I take this to mean ‘”dreadful man” qua thinker and, therewith, influence’, with “They all talk like Covenanters […] They don’t think human reason or human conscience of any value at all” varying and sharpening that, in the sentences which follow. I don’t know much (about) Barth, but this seems quite in keeping with my impression of him (!).


            • Yes, that’s what I was referring to in Lewis. Barth did not reject human reason, but that human reason or natural theology is not sufficient to speak to us about who God is, who Christ is, and the fullest reality of being human. Barth is over-reacting to German liberal theology and Nazi (volk) theology, and Emil Brunner calls him on this point. But I would be very much a Barthian in my theology. Beyond that, Barth protested Nazi supremacy and was exiled to Basel for his pains. He was the main brain behind the anti-Nazi theological statement, the Barmen Declaration.
              My admiration of Barth just made me perk up when Lewis spoke about him, so I don’t feel very badly about this moment. But I suspect we’d find a handful of these moments where Lewis spoke past his real knowledge in his letters or maybe in some of his lectures.


    • Joe Ricke says:

      Dale, a couple of things. There was an excellent essay of Lewis and Northern Ireland (by way of his friend David Bleakly) in the book from the 2018 Colloquium (the one for which Brenton is seeking a reviewer). We also had two student presentations this year at our Lewis Teas on Lewis and Ireland (one his complicated relationship with his homeland as expressed in letters to his father and the other one his complex response to W. B. Yeats, both on paper and in person). But you are right that this is a great topic. Also, I organize the annual Lewis and the Middle Ages paper sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. We have some brilliant essays every year. Last year we had some great sessions on the “Consolation” tradition in medieval literature and its influence on Lewis’s own writings. We also had a fine paper at the last colloquium on Lovecraft and Lewis (and a follow up paper at one of our teas on Lovecraft and Tolkien). And one of our “Young Inklings” is working on the possible influence of Lewis on the work of a major British horror director (whose name escapes me at present). Finally, I don’t think that Gender and the Inklings has been the focus of any major conference ever. It certainly has been the topic of a handful of books, though. But I think you will appreciate our approach, and I hope you will attend. As always, papers on any topic related to our authors are considered. Your suggestions are right on the mark, though. We need some serious work on the topics you suggest.

      Liked by 2 people

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        I would not be surprised if there was more to be done about Lewis and the late Harry Blamires (1916-2017), where Lewis and Ireland are concerned, and otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Re. 2, as far as I know we are still awaiting Norbert Feinendegen’s English adaptation of his German doctoral dissertation…

      Re. 4, definitely interesting – see, e.g., my interview with ‘John Christopher’ for the Wade Oral History archive (and his article, which got Lyle Dorsett thinking it would be a good idea if I interviewed him). There is probably a very interesting ‘Inklings’ sideline, here, too, involving Bruce Mongomery and Robert Conquest.

      De. 3, ach, ach, yes – where are the scholars who can follow, variously, Lewis and Tolkien, here, and Sayers, and MacDonald, for instance, too, in their sorts and degrees of breadth and variety of reading? (And what of Barfield? And how good were Williams’s languages?) At the moment, I’m reading a popular version of a Dutch historian’s 1958 dissertation, full of untranslated 14-15th-c. French, German, Dutch, and Latin quotations, which embarrassingly I am unable simply to read…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Wow! – but, will I have any idea of where I am likely to be able to be in June by February…?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: 2019: A Year of Reading: The Nerd Bit, with Charts | A Pilgrim in Narnia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.