“Reading Lewis’ Ransom Cycle” a Short Course with Dr. Sørina Higgins and the Signum SPACE Program

For some time, I have been wanting to highlight Signum University’s SPACE program. This is Signum’s new, innovative, popular, adult education program. “Academically serious but fun” is how they describe this affordable program that focuses “purely on the love of learning and the joy of studying the material.” I recently had the excuse the provide an invitation to readers to check out SPACE when I heard that Sørina Higgins was offering a course on C.S. Lewis’ Ransom Cycle–which has taken a lot of my academic interest over the last few years (see my paper here). Here is the short course description:

Reading Lewis’ Ransom Cycle by Dr. Sørina Higgins

In this book-club-style class, we will discuss C.S. Lewis’s novels Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. We’ll track his major themes, talk about the background he assumes, enjoy his secondary world, and perhaps cheerfully debate some of his theological claims. We’ll bring in a few of his other works briefly to see how they contribute to his subcreated universe, and we’ll touch on some points scholars have made to help us read these works more deeply.

To make the course work, you have to sign up, purchase a token (or more than one), and then vote for your favourite courses. In the “Fantasy Studies” path with Sørina’s course, there are also conversations about Anime, The Silmarillion, a Fairy Tales course on “Tricksters, Fools, and Villains,” and Tom Hillman’s “Pity in The Lord of the Rings.” Then of course, there are languages from the contemporary to the ancient that bring my “someday” goals a little nearer. Finally, Sparrow Alden’s “Creative Writing Workshop” is really tempting in a difficult term….

You can see more about Sørina’s short course on Lewis’ classic SciFi here, and below are more details on SPACE from the Signum website:

The mission of the SPACE program is to provide numerous and varied opportunities for personal enrichment through learning. SPACE modules are designed to be academically serious but fun, focused purely on the love of learning and the joy of studying the material. SPACE provides fully online access to a serious but low-impact arena for learning, whether you are interested in building a systematic course of study or just pursuing eclectic interests.

Signum University believes in connecting learners with teachers, and with each other! SPACE modules, like all Signum classes, are based on real-time, online small-group discussion sessions. Our modules each last for one month and typically meet twice a week for an hour-long interaction under the direction of the module’s preceptor. Each module provides eight hours of class time.  If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to space@signumu.org

Embark today on your next learning adventure in SPACE!

SPACE Tokens are each redeemable for participation in one SPACE module. SPACE Tokens never expire; you can use them whenever you like, and you can even give them away to friends!

Our Modules Directory contains the full list of our SPACE modules. Each month, we will publish a list of Candidate Modules; these are the modules that we are prepared to teach in two months. Once you have purchased at least one Token, the Communications Center will email you the link to a simple form on which you can choose among these Candidate modules, selecting your module of choice.

After the candidate month (approximately the 7th of the next month), we will publish the list of Confirmed Modules:  modules that have already received at least four registrations as candidates. If the module you initially selected is not Confirmed for that month, you can register for a module from our Confirmed list instead, or keep your Token to use in a later month. Students can register for one of our Confirmed Modules right up until classes start. If you want to have a say in which modules run in a given month, purchase your tokens and make your selection early!

See the Candidate Modules for April 2022, including Sørina’s “Reading Lewis’s Ransom Cycle” course, and a host of other great choices.


For those who would like to dig into the nuts and bolts of the SPACE program at Signum check out the launch from last fall’s fundraiser day:

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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4 Responses to “Reading Lewis’ Ransom Cycle” a Short Course with Dr. Sørina Higgins and the Signum SPACE Program

  1. Larry Repass says:

    You can believe all you want that the Dark Tower fragment was actually written by CSL, but I do not think you have a right to include it in a line-up with the other Ransom cycle books (even with your including ‘The Screwtape Letters’ – which is a stretch). All you say about all this seems to me an insult to CSL himself, who only refers to the 3 sci-fi novels as the trilogy, and who never mentions the Dark Tower fragment (except in the second-hand testimony of Walter Hooper, who was known as stretching the truth in more than one instance). CSL’s legacy is getting more and more twisted into something even he would not recognize. Larry


    • Dear Larry, I appreciate your intention of protecting Lewis. There are so many people who USE Lewis without actually READING him, like folks making self-help guides with airy Lewis misquotes or those with conservative political motives mis-using Screwtape during the pandemic. And so on.
      However, I have done my homework here. It was Lewis himself who included Screwtape in the Ransom universe (you can see my summary of work here, with links to details:
      And I took the Dark Tower concerns very seriously. I read all I could on the matter, including Kay Lindskoog’s writings, the 1980s Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal resistance movement pieces, and 1990s listserve conversations and debates. After training in Lewis’ handwriting, manuscripts, and writing habits, I travelled from Canada to Oxford and went to the Bodleian to examine the manuscript of the Dark Tower. While I don’t think it’s very good, it is certainly Lewis’.
      Not everyone agrees with me on this point, I know. That includes some people whose work I quite respect, and some who dialogue here on A Pilgrim in Narnia. However, in literary history, once you draw a conclusion, you need to test the implications. Thus, I ask the question: Given the Manuscript evidence, what does it mean to read the science fiction trilogy with the Dark Tower and Screwtape as a “Ransom Cycle”?
      Even if I am wrong, I have found the experiment to be a helpful one. I encourage you to give it a try, for it will also provide evidence related to the conversation.


  2. Larry Repass says:

    Dear Pilgrim in Narnia,
    Thank you for your replies. I can’t compete with you about all that you have studied, but I do believe I knew Walter Hooper personally more deeply than you (while we both appreciate his accomplishments re: the Lewis writings; no one else could have done it at that time). Walter was capable of writing in CSL’s handwriting, and his mental setup was such that he would easily be led to write the Dark Tower fragment. In fact, my only argument is Hooper’s psyche and some personal history [in his hometown, Reidsville, NC]. At any rate, I will not post any more. God bless you, Larry


    • I appreciate your concern, Larry, but that’s not good enough. To say: 1) that someone can do something technically; and 2) that someone is capable of it psychologically, cannot warrant an accusation. That is morally wrong. This is an age of unsubstantiated accusations, and I just cannot abide by it.
      Moreover, Lewis had strong words about non-falsifiable theses, whether psychological or otherwise. A non-falsifiable thesis is nonsense, in his point of view. And I agree.
      Instead, if you will make a claim, you have to present all the evidence.
      And when I say I have looked at the evidence, I don’t merely mean the handwriting in this case. I mean the whole.
      You can believe what you want, Larry, but to bounce around the Internet leaving behind unsubstantiated accusations … how is that in the spirit of what Lewis has done–what you call Lewis’ legacy?


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