The C.S. Lewis & Friends Conference: A Final Call and My Paper Proposal

I wanted to re-share the Call for Papers for one of my favourite conferences (which I describe here and here). If you are thinking of proposing a paper or creative piece, get that proposal in! They are especially interested in having students submit something as they believe in building scholarship for the future.

Here is my proposal:

“As High as My Spirit, As Small as My Stature”: C.S. Lewis’ Theology of the Small and Monika Hilder’s Theological Feminism

Canadian literary critic Monika Hilder has provided a model for reading Lewis’ fiction that she calls “theological feminism.” Hilder outlines a consistent “feminine heroic” in Lewis’ fiction that resists, critiques, and transforms classical-masculine models. Some critics claim that Lewis’ medieval-soaked imagistic approach to gender creates damaging exclusivities. Hilder argues that, by contrast, Lewis uses gender metaphors in remarkably gender-inclusive ways.

Though Hilder’s well-reviewed work provides a turning point in Lewis studies, the full impact of her thesis has not yet been exploited. This paper considers the implications of Hilder’s thesis for Lewis’ narrative spiritual theology. In taking feminist critics seriously, we discover the upside-down form of Lewis’ moral thought that emerges from the interrogation of his spiritual theology. This inversive, even subversive element in his thinking offers possibilities for a hopeful, holistic spirituality of the cross evident in his fiction and nonfiction. Combining Hilder’s feminist literary criticism with a careful concentration upon Lewis’ crucicentric theology leads ultimately to what I call Lewis’ “theology of the small”—an ironic spirituality that subverts culturally constructed expectations. Extending past the specific questions of gender Hilder is addressing, I argue that there is an inversive quality inherent to Lewis’ thought that confirms the comedic, eucatastrophic narrative pattern at the centre of his theology.

Beyond what I’m going there to talk about, the conference theme is intriguing, calling upon Dorothy L. Sayers’ 1938 essay, “Are Women Human?” My own proposal is working with the research of one of the keynotes, Monika Hilder, on C.S. Lewis’ theological feminism.

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

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 Mar 3, 2020. All proposals will be considered on a rotating basis.

Complete information, including submission instructions, will be available soon at our website: library.taylor.edu/cslewis. Direct all proposal-related questions to jsricke@taylor.edu. Please address all other questions to cslewiscenter@taylor.edu.

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 library.taylor.edu/cslewis.

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 library.taylor.edu/cslewis.

Keep in Mind: The best way to be aware of Colloquium news and updates is to pay attention to our new website: library.taylor.edu/cslewis[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): https://www.facebook.com/cslewiscenter/.

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.
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16 Responses to The C.S. Lewis & Friends Conference: A Final Call and My Paper Proposal

  1. Charles A Huttar says:

    I look forward to hearing your paper. I think it will blend well with the talk I am working on. Yes, Taylor has got a good thing going, every 2 years. Good spirit, good food for thought, good fun, good friends. BTW, I’m one of those who “well reviewed” Hilder’s ground-breaking trilogy (4-5 pages in C&L, March 2016). Hats off to Canada!

    Like

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Your references to “Lewis’ medieval-soaked imagistic approach” and the conference theme’s “calling upon Dorothy L. Sayers’ 1938 essay, ‘Are Women Human?'” got me recalling, if I’m not mistaken (as I am not pausing to reread), Sayers’ attention there (and elsewhere) to mediaeval women (and, I think, G.K. Chesterton’s variously, too) – and ways in which they were often not as circumscribed as many of their Nineteenth- and early Twentieth-century counterparts.

    And I hope someone will end up speaking about Anne Ridler – and maybe even her ‘stage work’ as playwright, translator of opera libretti into very singable English versions, and the author of a MacDonald Princess Irene opera libretto.

    Like

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Wow! – should have thought to browse YouTube before submitting that comment – unless the algorithms are playing tricksy games, I seem not to have checked for things by and about Anne Ridler for longer than I thought:

      Liked by 1 person

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      And allow me to note the YouTube channel, ANU SchoolofMusic. (i.e., Australian National University) having eight substantial excerpts from Monteverdi’s LÓrfeo sung in Anne Ridler’s translation!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Do you know if there is a Faust opera that’s been recorded by video?

        Like

        • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

          I’d think there must be – whether professional big-budget video for broadcast or dvd, or impressive amateur filming. I’ll try to browse around and see what I find… (I somehow just had Faust on my mind, earlier today!)

          Liked by 1 person

          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            My first searching on YouTube for Charles Gounod’s Faust found several full-length professional recordings – from 1975-2016 (with varying visual quality) – all sung in French, with, variously no subtitles, and with French or Spanish or German or English subtitles! (The 1985 Vienna State Opera one had English.)

            Liked by 1 person

            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              No such luck with Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust (English: The Damnation of Faust), which he called a “légende dramatique” (dramatic legend) – but which has a lot of singing – only one with subtitles – French subtitles (2002 ‘Belgian ‘BBC Music’ version, with modern dress).

              Liked by 1 person

            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              Happily, again, Boito’s Mefistofele (I think my favorite version) with, variously, Italian,Spanish, German – and English subtitles. (The 2019 Pacific Northwest Opera one has English.)

              Liked by 1 person

            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              Busoni’s Doktor Faust apparently only in German with French subtitles.

              Liked by 1 person

            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              Further afield, only snippets of Randy Newman’s musical, Faust (1995) – which (surprisingly, as a R.N. enjoyer) I somehow did not know existed till I looked at the “In music and film” section of the “Goethe’s Faust” Wikipedia article!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Goodness David, all these tips! Thanks so much. I got lost for a few days. We are a bit overwhelmed in the administrative side of things, re: Coronavirus. I don’t know how to catch up, honestly, but I have some “to watch” things. I’m a neophyte when it comes to opera, but am open.

                Like

              • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

                I had the happy opportunity from, I think, the eighth grade on through high school of seeing a half-dozen or more live professional opera productions every summer in Cincinnati, which really let me become an opera lover!

                Like

          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            Speaking of Faust – wow! – three productions quickly found on YouTube of Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus, including one at Shakespeare’s Globe!

            Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know this work, David–Sayers’ lectures/essays on medieval women. Our library has a couple of her essay collections, so I may have to visit.

      Like

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        The references are (in my memory) scattered around in different essays in the published collections I’ve read… If I get a chance, I’ll try to browse around and see where, exactly.

        Like

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