C.S. Lewis at his desk in August 1960 (Used by permission of the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.)
Fifty-five years after his death, Clive Staple Lewis (1898-1963), Irish-born Oxford don, Cambridge professor, and best-selling author, still attracts and inspires readers and thinkers everywhere. In this absorbing daylong program, Lewis scholar Andrew Lazo offers insights into Lewis’ personal life, published works, and enduring appeal.
9:30–10:45 a.m. A Brief Biography: Struggle and Success
From early personal losses to later intellectual struggles, from Christian conversion to literary success, and ultimately to the love that made him whole when he married American writer Joy Davidman, Lewis’ fascinating life was characterized by great challenges and great achievements. A look at his early atheism, the impact of World War I, and the autobiographical impulse that drove much of his writing.
11 a.m.–12:15 p .m. Friend of Wisdom: Lewis as Lifelong Philosopher
Lewis’ thought was informed by a deep intellect coupled with a passion for debate. His philosophical training at Oxford, conversations and debates with such friends as J. R. R. Tolkien, and experiences of a longing for joy, prompted Lewis’ decades-long struggle toward a philosophy that embraced both faith and reason. How Lewis’ philosophy and theology produced ideas about the human condition that continue to hold sway.
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch (participants provide their own)
1:30–2:45 p.m. Image and Imagination: Lewis as Compelling Fantasist
For Lewis, “reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” It’s no wonder that his fiction writing contains some of his best work. Several collections of stories, including the Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy, sprang from images in his head, and their ongoing popularity testifies to the power of Lewis’ modern myths, as reflected in his last novel, Till We Have Faces, a contemporary retelling of the Cupid and Psyche story. Examine the sources and successes of Lewis’ most meaningful fantasies.
3–4:15 p.m. Mere Christian: Lewis and the Integrated Life
Christianity offered Lewis a grounding truth that guided him both personally and professionally. A look at how Lewis strove to lead an authentic and integrated spiritual life, which helped to shape not only his compelling writing, but also a life of integrity, humility, honesty, humor, and, ultimately, love.
Lazo has written widely and lectured nationally and internationally on C. S. Lewis, including keynote talks on Lewis at conferences at Oxford and Cambridge.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)