C.S. Lewis, Gender, and The Four Loves: An Open Class

C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves is a book that is building in popularity nearly 60 years after it was originally published. My original review of the book 8 years ago remains one of the top posts on this blog, and I have returned to the ideas again and again. Though there are some intriguing flaws in the book, I still think Lewis says some important and powerful things about friendship, and I think his main thesis is right, that agape love–divine, unconditional love–fills out, lifts up, and perfects all other kinds of natural love.

And … “gender” is a topic that remains really important for C.S. Lewis readers. Yesterday was the biggest day ever for visitors on A Pilgrim in Narnia, with 2,725 hits. September 2019 was the second busiest month ever, and this week will likely be the most active week in blog history. While a lot of this has to do with popularity by older blog posts on Screwtape and The Great Divorce and a well-received blog post last week on maps, most of the hits that didn’t come from curiosity about the blog’s main page came from two recent posts on Lewis & Gender. The first is Kat Coffin’s guest post “How do you Solve a Problem like Susan Pevensie?” and the second is my follow-up post, “8 Questions about the Problem of Susan Narnia Debate, or How to Read Well.” I suspect that someone famous on Twitter tweeted Kat’s post, which has generated a lot of activity. Even that, though, shows the eagerness of folk who want to talk about Lewis and Gender.

This fall I am teaching at Signum University a class called “C.S. Lewis and Mythologies of Love and Sex.” In this masters-level course, I use C.S. Lewis’ concept of four loves to structure a course about the great myths at the foundation of our culture. Ranging from the ancient world until now, these are the moments where stories of friendship, love, sex, marriage, fidelity, and devotion have intersected with the hinges of history. I have great students, so the class is going pretty well.

It is going so well that we decided to open our digital doors one night. One of the limitations of my approach is the deeply Christian nature of The Four Loves and a diverse student body. On top of that, Lewis makes some comments about gender and sexuality–including homosexuality and marriage–that sound strange or even troublesome to today’s ears. Yet it is a uniquely situated book, written not long after Lewis had fallen in love, and written in conversation with Joy Davidman.

There is no area of Lewis’ life and thought that is more scrutinized than that of gender and sexuality. Yet the conversation is worth having. So after opening up the Signum classroom to invite questions, critiques, and curiosities from the larger reading community, I want to share the open class with Lewis fans and scholars. It was a very cautious and generous discussion, and works to help get us deeper into The Four Loves and Lewis’ work. I hope you enjoy!

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A Brief History of Fantastic Maps, A Story Map by Johnny Eaton (Friday Feature)

For today’s Friday Feature I wanted to share this gorgeous website, “A Brief History of Fantastic Maps, from Paleolithic Cave Drawings to the Futuristic Possibility of Immersive Geographies.” I have been curious about GIS utilities for reading fantasy literature, and Johnny Eaton has given us an admirable resource using the ArcGIS Story Maps tool by ESRI. There are interactive maps of some of the books we love, like the work that the Emil Johannson’s LOTR Project has done. Johnny Eaton’s work uses the LOTR Project, but puts in context with historical maps and then extends it out to other fictional universes, like Fairyland, Winnie-the-Pooh, and some contemporary film. You can find his interactive map here.

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Doctor Doctor

So, one of the fun things about successfully defending my PhD was landing back at my local university. While students were congratulatory, it is my colleagues who know the tremendous work (and often deep pain) that goes into a PhD. As I sat in my office and wandered through the halls, other profs took the opportunity to congratulate me and call me “Dr Dickieson.” I have had a similar reaction online, with lots of nice folks sending me notes. Hearing it with my own two ears, though, has this kind of effect:

Of course, that’s the more ridiculous and slightly less lecherous version of this classic scene:


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Update, with Fundraiser Link: L.M. Montgomery on the Love of Trees, and Hurricane Dorian

I was inspired in reading L.M. Montgomery’s Kilmeny of the Orchard to provide a quick update to the tragic loss of so many of the trees at Montgomery’s homestead in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. I was reading a passage, which I’ll share below, and then I happened to see a news article about the lost Montgomery wood. A local fan has started an online fundraising campaign to help restore the trees on the property where Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Kilmeny of the Orchard (see the timeline here).

CBC has updated their article with a number of new pictures, and you can find a link to the GoFundMe campaign here. And here is a teaser from Kilmeny, a bit of prose lyric that shows Montgomery at her best–when she is inviting us into the realm of faërie without us having to leave our own backyard:

No house was in sight, but he [Eric] found himself looking into an orchard; an old orchard, evidently long neglected and forsaken. But an orchard dies hard; and this one, which must have been a very delightful spot once, was delightful still, none the less so for the air of gentle melancholy which seemed to pervade it, the melancholy which invests all places that have once been the scenes of joy and pleasure and young life, and are so no longer, places where hearts have throbbed, and pulses thrilled, and eyes brightened, and merry voices echoed. The ghosts of these things seem to linger in their old haunts through many empty years.

The orchard was large and long, enclosed in a tumbledown old fence of longers bleached to a silvery gray in the suns of many lost summers. At regular intervals along the fence were tall, gnarled fir trees, and an evening wind, sweeter than that which blew over the beds of spice from Lebanon, was singing in their tops, an earth-old song with power to carry the soul back to the dawn of time.

Eastward, a thick fir wood grew, beginning with tiny treelets just feathering from the grass, and grading up therefrom to the tall veterans of the mid-grove, unbrokenly and evenly, giving the effect of a solid, sloping green wall, so beautifully compact that it looked as if it had been clipped into its velvet surface by art.

Most of the orchard was grown over lushly with grass; but at the end where Eric stood there was a square, treeless place which had evidently once served as a homestead garden. Old paths were still visible, bordered by stones and large pebbles. There were two clumps of lilac trees; one blossoming in royal purple, the other in white. Between them was a bed ablow with the starry spikes of June lilies. Their penetrating, haunting fragrance distilled on the dewy air in every soft puff of wind. Along the fence rosebushes grew, but it was as yet too early in the season for roses.

Beyond was the orchard proper, three long rows of trees with green avenues between, each tree standing in a wonderful blow of pink and white.

The charm of the place took sudden possession of Eric as nothing had ever done before. He was not given to romantic fancies; but the orchard laid hold of him subtly and drew him to itself, and he was never to be quite his own man again. He went into it over one of the broken panels of fence, and so, unknowing, went forward to meet all that life held for him.

Last Week’s Article

L.M. Montgomery simply loved trees. Her journals are filled with notes about trees–the beauty of landscape, like “the groves of maple and birch just turning to scarlet and gold” (Sep 25, 1889), or the desire to disappear and run “down to my favorite old spot under a big maple tree in the old school woods” (Feb 18, 1890). Her “dear old woods” are key to Montgomery’s growing up, both for beauty–“all shadowy nooks, carpeted with moss, or paths with ferns and wildflowers nodding along them … smiling through the traceries of the spruce boughs, or explored by the eye the intersecting glades … and ferny depths” (May 6, 1890)–but also critical for her sense of space, especially her home in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island (the real-life behind Avonlea).

Trees defined Montgomery’s sense of home, but also her sense of otherness:

“There was a heavy white frost to-night and this morning the town looked beautiful. All the trees were dreams of mist, looking as if a breath would demolish them, and across the river the forest looked like fairyland” (Jan 26, 1891).

Montgomery‘s classic work, Anne of Green Gables is, of course, filled with the love of trees. Mrs. Rachel Lynde begins the story by saying that “trees aren’t much company,” but Anne changes all of that. When she finds her way to Green Gables, she names the trees–as L.M. Montgomery did herself in her journals.

And then, of course, there is “the Avenue”–not just kind of pretty, but “the White Way of Delight.”

Emily from Emily of New Moon is also a namer of trees as part of her mystical negotiation of her world. It begins more mundane than Anne’s “Snow Queen” with Emily’s “Adam” and “Eve,” but trees are part of her transport to the land of faërie:

“the fairies of the white clover and satin catkins, the little green folk of the grass, the elves of the young fir-trees, sprites of wind and wild fern and thistledown. Anything might happen there–everything might come true” (Emily of New Moon, ch. 1).

Trees were such an essential part of Montgomery’s imaginary landscape. As they helped her transcend the normal and sometimes terribly parts of her life and allow her to walk in the ways of wonderland, so they are part of the magic that helps us as readers fall in love with her characters and walk with them in real-life lands of fantasy.

So it is sad news this week to hear that the passage of Hurricane Dorian by our province has brought great destruction to L.M. Montgomery’s family home. Descendent and caretaker of Montgomery’s original homestead, David Macneil estimates that 80% of the trees on the property were damaged or destroyed. As a lover of trees and as reader of Montgomery–and as someone who grew up in the same community, playing in her graveyard and her church–was moving to hear him describe his heartbreak.

It is okay to mourn the death of trees, I think. I don’t know that the “greats” of the 20th century tell us this, whether Ernest Hemmingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Platt, Doris Lessing, or Hunter S. Thompson lead us there or not. But the authors I love best–Tolkien and Lewis and Montgomery–they know what trees really are. Tolkien talked somewhere in “On Fairy-stories” that “the proper languages of birds and beasts and trees … is much nearer to the true purposes of Faerie.” Montgomery would have agreed, without every losing the homey, rootedness of trees:

“Emily was always glad that she lived where there were many trees–old ancestral trees, planted and tended by hands long dead, bound up with everything of joy and sorrow that visited the lives in their shadows” (Emily’s Quest, ch. 2).

I am glad, then, to hear that one old tree survived the storm, a century-old apple tree, perhaps a young sapling in one of Montgomery’s visits home. You can read the CBC news story of the Montgomery’s homestead and Hurrican Dorian here, where I found the pictures. I wish them all the best in the cleanup.

I’ll leave you with a little clip, a Canadian Heritage Minute, which was how us younger Canadians learned about history growing up.

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Blackface, Shameface, and Prime Minister Trudeau

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is putting on his best shame-faced demeanour today. Trudeau has positioned himself as a bastion of inclusivity, multiculturalism, and fights against racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. When photos surfaced in the last few hours of Trudeau painted in Brownface and posing with students, it set Trudeau’s entire public image into question. “Who really is Justin Trudeau?”, journalists are asking. Jody Wilson-Raybould—originally part of Trudeau’s team but now an independent in a controversy that includes suggestions of discrimination—says of Trudeau:

“I will say I’m incredibly proud to be an Indigenous person in this country, one that has experienced racism and discrimination. It’s completely unacceptable for anybody in a position of authority and power to do something like that” (CBC)

CNN has covered the public sin too, briefly explaining the hurtful history around white people taking on skin colour in play, parody, and persecution, and include a clip of Trudeau apologizing. This activity has an even deeper meaning in America, where Blackface was a public form of mockery and discrimination, bound up with all kinds of meanness, ignorance, and demeaning stereotypes.

Part of the story is no doubt the place where Trudeau has set himself within the 2019 federal election campaign. Each of the four parties capable of forming a government have had weird or terrible things surface about candidates, including some gaffs by leaders and some skeletons that have tumbled out of pretty ancient closets. Trudeau’s response has been, typically, to condemn what are some deeply past issues and say that the current candidate is not fit to be in government. If this Brownface Photo was any other candidate—even in his own party—Trudeau would say that candidate would have to step aside.

The hypocrisy may not just be on one side. If this was a conservative leader, there would be a call for common sense from the right-wing commentators and media. We’ll see, but I suspect what will emerge is a critique of hypocrisy on the right, statements of stern regret from Liberals, and condemnation of racism by people on the left.

In his own case, at least, Trudeau is asking for common sense.

“It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize, it was something racist to do” (National Post)

In a Macleans article Cheryl Thompson, author of Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture (2019), notes that it would be unusual a generation ago for someone to appear in public in Blackface. There is context, Prof. Thompson argues, but people in Trudeau’s cabinet who are minorities should be holding his feet to the fire.

I agree that there is context. For my part, it is sheer ignorance. I didn’t know what a Golliwog was growing up, or any tradition about Black Pete. I didn’t know about American Blackface performance and comedy until quite late, less than a decade ago. I honestly did not know that dressing in Black Drag was a thing, or why it would matter if it was. Until reading that Macleans piece, I didn’t even know the Canadian history of these things. Growing up as a kid, the only black people I ever met were people from Africa—farmers and social activists connected with Farming Helping Farmers. “African American” to me was The Cosby Show, and then the music industry as I got older.

I grew up in a homogeneous community, so I was truly ignorant of these issues. I knew about slavery and racism, but mediated through parents and teachers and film and many, many books. I was brought up to resist racism (and other isms), but my adult life has been an education of encounter. It wasn’t until I was older that I really studied black history and the holocaust, that I saw racism baldly out in public in Toronto and southern Alberta and the US, and that “resisting hate” became a much deeper and more difficult thing in my own heart.

Indeed, it took me being a minority to know on a more deeper level what these things might mean. I lived in a land where people of my race were used on television for the bad guys, where “Gaijin” is a dirty word used commonly, where I was not able to rent certain apartments or go to certain country clubs, and where I could never be casual or invisible. Though I was safe and happy in that land, it gave me a tiny glimpse at what was happening in North America that I could not see because of my place in that world.

I think it is okay, then, to put some context behind Trudeau’s photographic faux pas.

I want to be clear, though, that I am not defending Trudeau. A thing is morally wrong, even if you don’t know it is morally wrong. Time and distance, new experiences and changes in our public conversation—these things will give us a new perspective on the immoral act, and hopefully bring us to a point of repentance or even reparation. But the thing itself remains wrong. Given the history of racism and slavery in the West, and given the history of American Blackface abuse, manipulation, and hurt, if it is wrong in 2019 to wear Blackface or Brownface, it would have been wrong in 2001. The 18 years since only gives time for that sin to sink into our consciousness. Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the NDP, gave a very personal response as a Sikh man that is worth reading to see the damage these actions still create:

“Seeing this image today—the kids that see this image—the people that see this image—are going to think about all the times in the life that they were made fun of, that they were hurt, that they were hit, that they were insulted, that they were made to feel less because of who they are” (see the transcription here at the Huffington Post).

I am not saying that Trudeau wasn’t wrong and hurtful. What I am saying is that I am not sure that I am morally superior or less racist than Trudeau because you will never see a picture of me in Blackface or Brownface.

You will see other pictures of me. I am in Whiteface in various places because I worked as a professional clown. I even produced a low-budget, 12-episode television show with Patches the Clown as the star. I was a small-time professional actor, playing local parts and historical figures. Pretty badly, I might add. I was hired because I had the courage to do anything, I had a loud, clear voice, and I could grow a beard as a teenager. These traits, plus a love for story and stage, gave me a space for a few years where I was taking on roles on a quasi-regular basis.

And like Trudeau, I once played the role of a West Asian person in public. It wasn’t Aladdin in gaudy brown paint, but Jesus of Nazareth, stripped and beaten and hung on a cross. The only reason I wasn’t Brownface in that role is because of the inherent racism of Western culture, presuming that Jesus was white. Or white-ish. Unlike Megyn Kelly of FoxNews, most educated people know that Jesus was not truly white. But because of our history of incredible art and painful race relations, we have this whiteness built into our religion and culture. Still, I played the role of an Asian Jew—and many other roles as I used drama as part of my work for many years. I still take on characters when I teach—some of them offensive—though the last costume I wore was as a goth (again, Whiteface), and before that the Paperbag Princess’s jerk boyfriend, Ronald.

What I am saying, then, is that it is a historical accident that I have never dressed in Brownface or Blackface. I would not do so now, but it is likely I would have in high school in the late 1900s, back when Aladdin might have been a part I would have tried out for.

I am not morally superior to Trudeau, or less racist. Though I deplore his politics, Trudeau has probably done more than the vast majority of Canadians to foster an environment of a certain kind of inclusivism, including resisting racism. I am not better than him because I haven’t worn Blackface. Its just a sin of the past I didn’t happen to commit.

Likewise, I grew up believing it was wrong to use racial slurs or gay slurs to joke with or hurt people. I grew up in a feminist household, so from an early age I saw the damage of sexism. It isn’t likely that you’ll see a commentary emerge with me saying something terrible about groups of people (though I have said some incredibly stupid things in the past). I’m glad I didn’t do those things back then, and I am not tempted to do them now, because I have caused less damage to other people and to my own humanity. But my past record has to do with how I was raised and my young adult encounter with Christian morality more than anything else.

In all this, what I am arguing for is a shift in the way that we learn as a community. Trudeau’s own use of shame and moral indignation as a weapon for political gain in a hunt for moral purity has been turned upon himself. This has happened to other puritanical movements–even the Puritans, who are known today for stoning adulteresses rather than educating girls. On his pathway of moral superiority, Trudeau’s legacy may be the same. And, because of these tactics, his policies of inclusiveness will fail. It will be minorities, immigrants, women, and people of colour who will suffer because Trudeau invested himself in throwing stones at ideological adulterers of his age.

Instead, in the strength of a vision of a community that loves diversity—and in the practical admission that we are learning these things and growing as a culture—I hope that our political leaders will take the stones they are tempted to raise against others and use those stones to build pathways to a better future (or even ebenezers and inukshuk to remember the past). Trudeau is a bigot only to the extent that we are all walking around with sinews of sexism and racism and classism in our souls. We are a broken people. We are doing broken things right now as a culture that we can’t even see, but that a future generation will think are blatantly obvious. But I believe that we can learn as a community, provided we have the clarity of vision and courage of conviction to grow.

I think it is time to change the shame-face, stone-throwing, weapon-wielding approach to the sins of the past. Voters can decide whether Trudeau is the right leader for our time and our people. Unless social and political leaders learn some intellectual humility and moral compassion, though, this slim chance of making a safer, better, more beautiful future of racial harmony and social peace will pass us by.

Missing that chance, I think, really would be a shame.

Posted in Thoughtful Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

A Bibliography on C.S. Lewis and Gender (Secondary Sources)

Gender in C.S. Lewis Bibliography by Brenton Dickieson*

Adey, Lionel.  “How Far Did Lewis Change Over Time?” The Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal 93.1 (1998): 5–13. See also his C.S. Lewis: Writer, Dreamer, and Mentor. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

Barkman, Adam. “‘All is Righteousness and there is no Equality’: C.S. Lewis on Gender and Justice.” Christian Scholar’s Review (2007): 415-436.

—. The Philosophical Christianity of C.S. Lewis: Its Sources, Content, and Formation. Thesis. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit, 2009.

—. “‘We Must Go Back to Our Bibles’: A Reply to Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen.” Christian Scholar’s Review (2007): 445-453.

—.“C.S. Lewis: Sexist and Masculine Idolater?” Inklings-Jahrbuch für Literatur und Ästhetik 26 (2008): 158–72.

Bartels, Gretchen. “Of Men and Mice: C.S. Lewis on Male-Female Interactions.” Literature & Theology 22, No. 3 (September 2008): 324-338.

Bremer, John. “From Despoina to Diotima: The Mistress of C.S. Lewis.” The Lewis Legacy 61 (Summer 1994): 6-18. Online: http://instituteofphilosophy.org/c-s-lewis/233/

Brown, Devin. “Are The Chronicles of Narnia Sexist and Racist?”. Keynote Address at The 12th Annual Conference of The C. S. Lewis and Inklings Society, Calvin College, March 28, 2009. Web. 15 July 2011. http://www.narniaweb.com/resourceslinks/are-the-chronicles-of-narnia-sexist-and-racist/. 

Burrus, Alicia D. Gender Differentiation and Gender Hierarchy in C.S. Lewis. University Honors Program Thesis. GA: Georgia Southern University, 2014.

Carnell, Corbin Scott. “The Meaning of Masculine and Feminine in the Work of C.S. Lewis.” Modern British Literature 2 (1977): 153–59.

Chance, Jane. Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.

Christopher, Joe R. “Gender Hierarchies and Lowerarchies: A Response to Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen and Adam Barkman.” Christian Scholar’s Review 36, no. 4 (Summer 2007): 461-468.

Croft, Janet Brennan, and Leslie Donovan, editors. Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien. Altadena, CA: Mythopoeic Press, 2015.

Curtis, Carolyn, and Mary Pomroy Key, editors. Women and C.S. Lewis: What His Life and Literature Reveal for Today’s Culture. Oxford: Lion Books, 2015.

Deschene, James Michael. Joy in a Minor Key: The Mystery of Gender and Sex in the Thought of C.S. Lewis. Dissertation, University of Rhode Island, 1991. No copy, part of intro in

Emerson, David. “Innocence as a Super-Power: Little Girls on the Hero’s Journey.” Mythlore 28, nos. 1-2 (Fall/Winter 2009): 131–47.

Eros, Paul. “‘A Different Lens’: Gender Studies and the Inklings.” Femspec 5, No. 1 (2004): 283.

Filmer, Kath. The Fiction of C.S. Lewis: Mask and Mirror. London: Macmillan, 1993.

Fredrick, Candice, and Sam McBride. “Battling the Woman Warrior: Females and Combat in Tolkien and Lewis.” Mythlore 35, No. 3/4 (2007): 29-42.

—. Women Among the Inklings: Gender, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. London: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Fife, Ernelle. “Wise Warriors in Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling.” Mythlore 25, nos.1-2 (2006): 147-162.

Frenschkowski, Helena. “Women in Love—Spirits in Bondage? Geschlecht und Weiblichkeit in C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces.” Inklings-Jahrbuch 16 (1998): 180-98.

Fry, Karin. “No Longer a Friend of Narnia: Gender in Narnia.” In The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy, edited by Gregory Bassham and Jerry L. Walls, 155-166. Chicago: Open Court, 2005.

Gibbons, Stella. “Imaginative Writing.” In Light on C.S. Lewis, edited by Jocelyn Gibb, 86–101. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1965.

Glyer, Diana Pavlac. “‘We are All Fallen Creatures and All Very Hard to Live With’: Some Thoughts on Lewis and Gender.” Christian Scholar’s Review 36, no. 4 (Summer 2007): 477–483.

Goldthwaite, John. The Natural History of Make-Believe: A Guide to the Principal Works of Britain, Europe, and America. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.

Graham, Jean E. “Women, Sex, and Power: Circe and Lilith in Narnia.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 29 (2004): 32–44.

Hannay, Margaret Patterson. “C.S. Lewis: Mere Misogyny?” Daughters of Sarah 1, no. 6 (Sep. 1975): 1–4.

—. “‘Surprised by Joy’: C.S. Lewis’ Changing Attitudes Toward Women.” Mythlore 4, no. 1 (1976): 15–20.

Hardy, Elizabeth Baird. Milton, Spenser and The Chronicles of Narnia: Literary Sources for the C.S. Lewis Novels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

Henthorne, Susan C. The Image of Woman in the Fiction of C.S. Lewis. Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1985.

Hilder, Monika B. “The Foolish Weakness in C.S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy: A Feminine Heroic.” SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review 19 (2002): 77–90.

—. The Feminine Ethos in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Studies in Twentieth-Century British literature 10. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

—. The Gender Dance: Ironic Subversion in C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy. Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature 11. New York: Peter Lang, 2013.

—. Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C. S. Lewis and Gender. Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature 12. New York: Peter Lang, 2013.

Hopkins, Lisa. “Female Authority Figures in the Works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.” Mythlore 20.2 (1995): 364–66.

Humphrey, Edith. “Sacrament and Essence, Masculine and Feminine,” ch. 9 in Further Up and Further in: Orthodox Conversations with C.S. Lewis on Scripture. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2017.

Jones, Karla Faust. “Girls in Narnia: Hindered or Human?” Mythlore 13, no. 3 (1987): 15-19.

King, Don W. “Introduction to the Colloquium Issue: C.S. Lewis and Gender: “Positively Medieval?” Christian Scholar’s Review 36, no. 4 (Summer 2007): 387-390.

Leyland, Margaret M. “Lewis and the Schoolgirls.” The Lamp-Post of the Southern California C.S. Lewis Society 1, no. 3 (July 1977): 1-2.

Lindskoog, Kathryn. “C.S. Lewis: Reactions from Women.” Mythlore 3, no. 4 (1976): 18–20.

—. “Sex.” The C.S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia. Eds. Schultz, Jeffrey D. and John G.West, Jr., 429. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

—.“Women.” In The C.S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia, edited by Jeffrey D. Schultz and John G. West, Jr., 429. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

Loades, Ann. “C.S. Lewis on Gender.” Priscilla Papers 24.1 (Winter 2010): 19–24.

—. “On Gender.” In The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis, edited by Robert MacSwain and Michael Ward, 150-173. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

McSporran, Cathy. “Daughters of Lilith: Witches and Wicked Women in the Chronicles of Narnia.” In Revisiting Narnia: Fantasy, Myth and Religion in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles, edited by Shanna Cuaghey, 191-204. Dallas: Benbella Books, 2005.

Michel, Laura. “Politically Incorrect: Tolkien, Women, and Feminism,” in Tolkien and Modernity, Vol. 1, edited by Frank Winreich and Thomas Honegger, 55-76. Bochum and Jena, Germany: Walking Tree, 2006.

Miller, Jennifer L. “No Sex in Narnia? How Andersen’s “Snow Queen” Problematizes Lewis’s Narnia.” Mythlore 28, nos. 1-2 (Fall/Winter 2009): 113–30.

Myers, Doris. “Brave New World: The Status of Women according to Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams.” Cimarron Review 17 (Oct. 1971): 13–19.

Myers, Doris. C.S. Lewis in Context. Kent, OH: Kent State UP, 1994.

—.“Lewis in Genderland.” Christian Scholar’s Review 34, no. 4 (Summer 2007): 455-460.

Neuleib, Janice Witherspoon. “Love’s Alchemy: Jane in That Hideous Strength.” Mythlore 7, no. 1 (March 1980): 16–17.

Patterson, Nancy-Lou. “Guardaci Ben: The Visionary Woman in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and That Hideous Strength.” Mythlore 6, no. 3 (1979): 6–10 and Mythlore 6, no. 4 (1979): 20–24.

—. “The Unfathomable Feminine Principle: Images of Wholeness in That Hideous Strength.” The Lamp-Post of the Southern California C.S. Lewis Society 9 (1986): 3-39.

Poe, Harry Lee. “Lewis and the Ladies.” Christian Scholar’s Review 36, no. 4 (Summer 2007): 469-76.

Ribe, Neil. “That Glorious Strength: Lewis on Male and Female.” CSL: The Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis Society 14, No. 1 (1982): 1-9.

Scudder Jr., John, and Anne Bishop. “C. S. Lewis Surprised and Humanized by Joy.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 48.1 (2009): 74-78.

Starr, Charlie W. “Fauns are from Mars, Nymphs are from Venus,” ch. 5 in The Faun’s Bookshelf: C.S. Lewis on Why Myth Matters. Kent, OH: Black Squirrel Books, 2018.

Swift, Jennifer. “‘A More Fundamental Reality than Sex’: C.S. Lewis and the Hierarchy of Gender.” Chronicle: Of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society 5, no. 1 (Feb. 2008): 5–26.

Van Leeuwen, Mary Stewart. “The Anti-Reductionist: C.S. Lewis, Science, and Gender Relations.” The C.S. Lewis Lecture at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga on March 29, 2004.

—. Gender and Grace: Love, Work and Parenting in a Changing World. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990.

—. “A Sword Between the Sexes: C.S. Lewis’s Long Road to Gender Equality.” Christian Scholar’s Review 36, No. 4 (2007): 391-414.

—. “What Did Lewis Say, and When Did He Say It? A Reply to Adam Barkman.” Christian Scholar’s Review 36, no. 4 (Summer 2007): 437-444.

—. A Sword Between the Sexes: C.S. Lewis and the Gender Debates. Grand Rapids: BrazosPress, 2010.

Woodruff Tait, Jennifer L.  “‘You Will Have No More Dreams; Have Children Instead’ Or, What’s a Nice Egalitarian Girl Like You Doing in a Book Like This?,” Inklings Forever 6. https://pillars.taylor.edu/inklings_forever/vol6/iss1/24.

Zettle, “Why I Love Narnia.” Revisiting Narnia: Fantasy, Myth and Religion in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles, edited by Shanna Caughey, 181–90. Dallas, TX: BenBella, 2005.

*With significant help by Jenn R.

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C.S. Lewis’s “To love at all is to be vulnerable” Infographic by Gavin Aung Than

I am having an open class on “C.S. Lewis, Gender, and The Four Loves” tonight (you are welcome to join, but must sign up here). In returning to the text, I was reminded by a student of a cartoon infographic by an artist that captures the “To love at all is to be vulnerable” moment in the Agape lecture of The Four Loves:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one and nothing, not even an animal. You must carefully wrap it round with hobbies and little luxuries and routine and avoidances of entanglement, and then lock it up in the casket or coffin of your own selfishness. And this means that in the long run, the alternative to tragedy, or at least to the threat of tragedy, is damnation, for in that casket – safe, still, and unventilated in the darkness – it will go bad; not broken, but finally unbreakable, impenetrable, resistant to all good and joy….

This passage is pretty similar in the book and the original lecture series. It’s intriguing to me that Lewis exchanges “resistant to all good and joy” for the word “irredeemable.” It is a profound theological difference–and perhaps the key question in Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce.

The artist here, Gavin Aung Than, chooses to follow the text for the most part, making a bit of a shift in order and word choice here and there. It is better than the vast majority of the quote posters about C.S. Lewis on social media–misquotes that have inspired William O’Flaherty‘s The Misquotable C.S. Lewis. I also wish the story wasn’t about boy-girl relationships with the stereotypical brute-male/hurt-girl/saviour-boy story. Lewis is here trying to talk about any love, whether for partner, friend, and family–or even country, hobby, pet, or God. But I suppose it is a story that is common enough to highlight the basic idea: Love is Risk. I think this is profoundly true.The original file here, and here is a version of Lewis’ lecture on “Agape” with some illustration by C.S. Lewis Doodle.

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