I am pleased to be part of TexMoot 2021: Signum University’s Fourth Annual Texas
Literature & Language Symposium. The Signum “moots”–from the Old English word for a meeting or assembly–are there to give a live, in-the-flesh connection for this international digital university. I still have a slim and fading hope to be live at the international Mythmoot in June near the US capital and meet more personally many of my friends and colleagues that I have known for months and years. Until pilgrimages once again open to the world and wilds, we are meeting digitally. As an upside, I get to go to TexMoot this year! It is unlikely I could just drop into Dallas or Houston or Waco for a quick weekend of literary conversation in any other setting, so I have chosen to take advantage of the moment.
My paper proposal was accepted: “Is C.S. Lewis too Sexy for America?” As the conference is set up less to provide academic papers, but to suggest smart conversations, I wanted to test out a curiosity I have had for some time. There’s nothing more American than a wild question in Texas, and Americans love (or love to hate) C.S. Lewis, so it was time for me to spend some time tinkering in this odd bit of Lewis lore.
My abstract is below.
Registrations for the conference are still open (click here) and the cost is very low ($10-$15 for the entire event). The schedule is below and I hope you can join in because it is really the conversation that makes this event. See you soon!
Sex and C.S. Lewis seem to be a strange mix. There are unusual tensions about Lewis and sexuality in Lewis studies, including “The Minto Affair”–a strange and perhaps problematic conversation about Lewis’ decade-long affair with a 40-something married woman while he was in his 20s. This fascination with Lewis and sex continued into Lewis’ late-in-life and no less scandalous marriage to an American divorcee–begun with intimate evening meetings while Joy Davidman was still married. What is intriguing about this relationship is that the scandal went in opposite directions, with suggestions by major Lewis historians that the marriage was not sexual, but a deep friendship–or, on the other side, that Lewis and Joy were sexually active even before marriage. And his Four Loves lecture series was deemed too sexual to air for sensitive American listeners in the late ’50s. This lurid sexual fascination in the pre-sexual revolutionary life of C.S. Lewis is complicated by critics. I know of no other 20th-century figure who has received more scrutiny by critics of gender and sexuality.
After briefly sketching the critical scene, I would like to think aloud about one of these weird moments in Lewis studies: the part in his memoir, A Grief Observed, where Lewis speaks intimately of sexual love and bodily connection with his wife: “No cranny of heart or body remained unsatisfied.” This sexual love element is dismissed by some critics, including major biographers. This conversation is an experiment to sketch out a spectrum of contextual feelings that might lead to that kind of anti-sex reading in Lewis.
(All Times U.S. Central; i.e., EST -1, GMT -6)
FRIDAY, February 12th
Gaming from 8:00pm until the Witching Hour. Thengel King has urgent need of brave adventurers! Several steadings have been attacked, animals have been slain, and rumors abound that Dunlendings are killing and eating the horses of the Mark! One Ring RPG Loremaster Richard Rohlin will delight and terrify with Blood in the Snow, an adventure set in the hills and valleys of Rohan.
SATURDAY, February 13th
8:45 in Waco and/or the Hallway: Sign in and check your technology
9:00 in Waco: Welcome!
9:15 Session I
in Dallas: Theologies of Embodiment in Milton & Kingsley
Christian Dickinson, “Charles Kingsley’s Theology of Embodiment”
Aaron Cassidy, “The Embodiment of Innocence in Paradise Lost“
in Houston: Form & Spirit in Place, Space, & Women’s Bodies
Carla Alvarez, “The Impact of Form on Spirit in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo”
Elizabeth Olaoye, “Environmental Scars on Women’s Bodies”
10:00 Session II
in Dallas: Suffering & the Soul: Theological Meditations Ancient & Medieval
Micah Snell, “Socrates’ Noble Risk of the Soul, Jesus’ Nobler Risk of the Body”
Jonathan Kanary, “Shared Suffering in the Crucifixion Meditations of Nicholas Love and Julian of Norwich”
in Waco: Digital Consciousness, Rebirth, & Religion
Shawn Marchese, “Reconstructing the Self: Modes of Rebirth in Fantasy and Science Fiction”
David Schones, “Religious Symbolism and Digital Consciousness: Religion and Embodiment in Amazon’s Upload“
11:00 in Waco: Keynote Speech by Dr. Sara Brown, “Written on the Body: Cyborg Theory and Understanding Humanity in the 21st Century“
<12:00 Lunch Break; you’re welcome to hangout in the Hallway, where Sparrow Alden will be your social host>
1:00 in Waco: Growing All the Time: Signum University Update with President Corey Olsen
1:30 Session III
in Houston: Write/Create Workshop led by Ashley Soden
in Waco: Embodied Impairment, Invisible Disabilities, & Multi-Abilities
Christine Norvell, “Leading Limps in YA Fiction”
Jeana Moody, “Blood sucking sucks: Vampirism as an embodied impairment and social disability”
Lynn Schlesinger, “What you can’t see…Invisible & Hidden Disabilities and Embodiment”
3:00 Session IV
in Dallas: WriterSpace Flash Mob Workshop led by Sparrow Alden
in Waco: Faces and Bodies in the Writings of C. S. Lewis
Sarah Waters, “’Faces, faces, faces! What are you all gaping at?’: Face-to-Face Interaction in a Masked World”
Brenton Dickieson, “Is C. S. Lewis too sexy for America?”
in Houston: Racism and Disability in Tolkien’s Legendarium
Zak Schmoll, “I Can Carry You!”
Joe Ricke, “Swarthy Bodies and Pale Goodness”
4:00 in Waco: Do You Need Some Body to Dance? Get up out of your chair and learn a few ballroom dance moves with Sørina Higgins (aka the Dark Lady of the Dance Floor)
5:00 Session V
in Waco: Light Bodies and Grave Love: A Dramatic Reading of George MacDonald’s The Light Princess, directed by Joe Ricke
in Houston: On Stage and on the Catwalk
Sirsha Nandi, “‘Fashion is gratifying the well-being and happiness of the senses’: An Examination of Body and Fashion Aesthetics on Social Media”
Abigail Dillard, “Give Yourself Permission to Embody Space Beyond the Zoom Screen”
in Dallas: Cyborgs & Science Fiction
Nadia Schafer, “I Am Cyborg (And So Are You): Discussing Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ as a Lens for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein“
Julie Dick, “The Long-Distance Relationship of River Song and the Doctor”
6:00 in Waco: Happy Hour hosted by the Tolkien Professor