C.S. Lewis fully expected to be forgotten within five years of his death. Why, then, do so many readers continue to be attracted to his work? This course examines Lewis' life, influences, and major works, concluding that his true legacy is one of longing. By persistently evoking Joy ("the desire which is in itself more desirable than any other satisfaction") within his readers, Lewis' writings bear witness in a secular age to the fact that eternity lies within the heart even if the head no longer believes in it.
1. Paradise Lost: Lewis' Childhood
At the age of nine, Lewis' idyllic childhood in Ireland is cut tragically short by his mother's sudden death from cancer.
2. East of Eden: Lewis' School Days
His father sends him to boarding school in England, a deeply unhappy experience that eventually leads to his renouncing his Christian faith
3. Valley of the Shadow: Lewis at War
Before he can begin his studies at Oxford University, he is drafted into World War I, where a mortar shell claims his best friend's life.
4. Beer, Tea, and Pipes: Lewis at Oxford
Lewis returns to Oxford determined to become a scholar. He develops deep friendships with other scholars-some of whom challenge his atheism
5. Pilgrim's Regress: Lewis' Conversion
A series of philosophical shifts, mystical experiences & an all-night conversation with Tolkien brings Lewis from atheism to Christianity.
6. Weaving a Spell: Lewis the Professor
Lewis begins to see his professorate as a Christian calling for communicating truths long forgotten by Western society.
7. The Hand and the Ear: Lewis in Community
His experiences with the Inklings inspire profound reflections on friendship and the Body of Christ as the highest form of human connection.
8. The Mere Christian: Lewis the Apologist
The outbreak of World War II gives Lewis a new sense of purpose as a translator of ancient truths for modern times.
9. A Plain Called Ease: Lewis' Golden Years
After his tenure at Cambridge, he uses this newfound freedom to write a series of books for children that increase his fame even further.
10. Serious Business: Lewis' Last Years
Lewis loses Joy in the same way he had lost his mother, reawakening his darkest doubts, leading to an anguished series of diary entries.
11. The Sweetest Thing: Lewis' Legacy
We examine a few of the more problematic aspects of his legacy, and explain why he is a literary phenomenon still worth reading nonetheless.