Announcing my New C.S. Lewis Course at the University of Prince Edward Island (Registration Open for January 2022)

C.S. Lewis is one of the more prolific public figures of the 20th-century. A scholar, educator, poet, fantasist, and cultural critic, this author of the globally famous Narnian chronicles produced work in dozens of different genres and modes. Thus, I am pleased that in Winter term 2022, I am going to be offering a local, live course at the University of Prince Edward Island that focuses on Lewis from the angle of leadership, communication, and culture.

Using the seven Narnian children’s novels as core texts, combined with some lessons from Lewis’ life and work, this course brings together traditional close-reading and book discussion with thematic questions related to leadership, communication, and culture.

Leadership

From the Narnian adventures and characters, and from some aspects of C.S. Lewis’ public life, the course provokes conversations about models, values, and methods of leadership, including topics such as:

  • C.S. Lewis as a “Public Intellectual” (considering Samuel Joeckel’s The C.S. Lewis Phenomenon);
  • Institutional, political, personal, intuitive relational, and moral modes of leadership in Narnia (in conversation with Aaron Perry’s Leadership Philosophy in the Fiction of C.S. Lewis);
  • 4 qualities of “Transformational Leadership” in Narnia:  Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individual Consideration (from Crystal Hurd‘s research, and perhaps in conversation with her upcoming book, Leadership of C.S. Lewis: 10 Traits to Encourage Change and Growth); and
  • How Narnia subverts, challenges, or deepens the reader’s images of a leader.

Communication

Drawing upon recent research and book discussions driven by students’ questions, this course looks at C.S. Lewis’ life and work in various ways:

  • C.S. Lewis and the craft of communication (which is the title of Steven A. Beebe’s new book, though others have written on this topic, such as Gary Tandy and James Como);
  • C.S. Lewis as a writer, including conceptual development, drafting, editing, and publishing (and we may take a peek at Corey Latta’s C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing);
  • Lessons from C.S. Lewis as a world-builder;
  • Creative collaboration and communities of authorship and the role of beta readers in producing texts (with the work of Diana Pavlac Glyer in The Company They Keep and Bandersnatch);
  • C.S. Lewis as an educator (including research by Joel Heck and others);
  • Narnian reflections on education, logic, common sense, and reading “the right kind of books”; and
  • Some analysis of other modes of communication by C.S. Lewis, including letter-writing, the short essay, radio broadcasting, philosophical argument, controversialist writing, and the novella as a thought experiment.

Culture

This course explores the relationship of text and culture in three ways:

  1. cultures within the fictional world;
  2. the culture from which the stories emerged; and
  3. the cultures that receive the text.

Culturally related topics include:

  • C.S. Lewis’ biography and worldview;
  • C.S. Lewis as a cultural critic;
  • The ways that race, class, and culture operate in The Chronicles of Narnia;
  • How The Chronicles of Narnia create a space for thinking about cultural expectations like the roles of boys and girls, models of heroics, ethics and moral choices, and the qualities of adventure, curiosity, joy, and courage (with Monika Hilder‘s trilogy of books on C.S. Lewis and gender);
  • The ways in which adaptations triangulate text, culture, and artistry;
  • Translations of texts, including places where translation is politically subversive or used to build culture;
  • A brief look at certain literary methods and theories—such as biographical criticism, readers response criticism, postcolonial theory, feminist, gender and queer theory, the New Criticism, and the New Historicism—and the ways that C.S. Lewis dialogues with these approaches;
  • The Chronicles of Narnia as a resource for contemporary cultural criticism; and
  • Using stories to dialogue within our own questions.

Students will have the opportunity to respond to the Narnian chronicles and course topics in classroom discussions and course projects designed to explore diverse pathways to learning.

I am offering “C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia: Leadership, Communication, and Culture” as part of my limited term appointment as Assistant Professor of Applied Communication, Leadership and Culture (ACLC) at UPEI in January 2022. ACLC is our interdisciplinary applied arts and digital humanities program, and I am very pleased to be a part of the team in this upcoming semester. The program’s goal is to connect the communication skills and leadership training of a traditional Liberal Arts education to successful post-graduation employment for students entering the workforce in a dynamic age. The ACLC program is defined by its focus on the transferability of written, oral, and visual communication skills, critical thinking, research capacity, and cultural awareness acquired during a Liberal Arts education to the world beyond academia. Technical skills, work-integrated learning, and career-related mentoring are central components of the program’s design.

In this C.S. Lewis course, using close readings of Narnia and a selection of various short Lewis texts, I am aiming to draw out lessons on the program’s main focal points: principles and modes of leadership, communication, and cultural criticism. In this course cross-listed as an English literature or ACLC credit, I have also designed the assignments to invite creative responses from students. This is a live, on-campus UPEI undergraduate class, though it could be the first few days of class are online because of COVID-prevention measures. I look forward to working with Lewis’ texts in what is, for me, a brand new context!

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, Original Research and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Announcing my New C.S. Lewis Course at the University of Prince Edward Island (Registration Open for January 2022)

  1. danaames says:

    Congratulations on your appointment! Hope it works into something more permanent. I’m also pleased to see a program that understands the importance of a Liberal Arts education for the overall ability to think well. This is necessary in every area of employment, not just those resulting from a STEM course of study.

    In my little burg, there’s a disproportionate number of MDs who also play an instrument well enough to be part of our local symphony. Literature and arts are important for people to be truly educated.

    I get on this soap box a lot 🙂

    Dana

    Like

    • Hi Dana, thanks for the encouragement! I agree about the importance of literature and the arts–really having dedicated the last decade to encouraging that growth in culture.
      I heard there was a program in New York–perhaps at Hebrew?–where they took an MD training cohort totally from Arts & Humanities students. I’d be curious as to how that turned out, but I do know that they are struggling with the cost of doctor education compared with the high drop out rate in the early years.

      Like

  2. mlktrout says:

    I have a bachelor’s degree already and I live in Jacksonville, Florida, but I want so much to take this course I can just taste it. I wish you success in the local realm, and if you can teach it through any US online schools, PLEASE let me know!

    Like

  3. robstroud says:

    Sounds like an excellent course.
    And blessings in your role on the faculty of the ACLC program!

    Like

  4. Pingback: “From Communist to Christian”: William Lindsay Gresham’s Conversion Story (Nightmare Alley Series) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  5. Pingback: 2021: A Year of Reading: The Nerd Bit, with Charts | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  6. Pingback: L.M. Montgomery’s The Story Girl, “Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On”: Chapter Reading, the L.M. Montgomery Readathon, a Montgomery Conference, and Other Things I am Working On (Friday Feature) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.