The Fiction of C. S. Lewis
ENG 480/680: An Online Course/Summer I
Dr. Bruce Edwards
THEN PERFORM THESE TWO FINAL ACTIONS:
and then send the
entire class a message that introduces yourself, telling all of us:
The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy have charmed and challenged readers for more than fifty years. What is the special quality that separates Narnia from other fantasy landscapes? Why do generations of readers return again to these tales as adults and teachers? What literary merit do the books possess? Lovers of C. S. Lewis’s seven-volume The Chronicles of Narnia will and his three science-fiction novels will find this course a refreshing and inspiring look at the key themes, images, characters, and social critique that can be drawn from this best-selling series. Likewise, readers who love Lewis’s works often want to know more about his personal life—and his conversion from atheism to Christian belief, hence Surprised by Joy. First time readers will reap the benefits of a deeper look at Lewis’s series while enjoying these fun and enchanting books.
All by C. S. Lewis:
The Order of Things
WHAT WE’RE DOING. In this course, you will also learn about the life and times of C. S. Lewis and the influences that help explain his motivations and lasting achievement. Please note: Lewis is, above all, a religious writer—hence, during the course we will explore certain theological concepts as relevant to understanding his life and commitments—as well as the themes and points of view emphasized in his work.
WHAT ORDER WE’RE DOING IT IN. We are going to reverse time (you’ve seen “Memento,” right?) and read Lewis’s works basically in the reverse order in which they were published. That is, we are going to start with the autobiography (1955), then Narnia (1950-54), and the Space Trilogy (1938; 1943; 1945). Why? Basically, because it is fun to start with Lewis’s personal story, then his “made for children of all ages” works (Narnia), and move back in time to the more challenging, but still fun science-fiction work.
RELIGION PER SE. This is not a course in religion per se, and no assumptions are made about your own personal stance. No one “has” to believe anything. But, you do need to know upfront that because of Lewis’s Christian vantage point on the world, we will be exploring in some depth how these convictions shaped his career—and his works, including the 11 volumes we will be reading this summer. We won’t be ridiculing anybody’s faith or lack thereof, and I will police this, well, “religiously.” But, still, you deserve to know what’s up. You may feel free to affirm and critique (tactfully) whatever you wish throughout the course.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE “ONLINE.” This is a fully-online course delivered through BGSU’s web portal known as Blackboard. You will need a bgnet account to gain access to the my.bgsu.edu web portal and the course materials for this course. During the course you will read, respond, interact, submit assignments completed within the my.bgsu.edu webcourse system. Early on in the course we will practice all of the communication tools necessary to be successful. And I will be available via email, phone, and website to assist you in all aspects of the course, including the technology.
How to Succeed
TECHNO STUFF. To be successful in the course, you must have the right specifications for your computer system and internet access. Your PC or MAC should be able to use Internet Explorer 5.0 and above and/or Netscape 4.7 and above. (My strong recommendation is that you use Internet Explorer, because the Blackboard webcourse system is built upon its functions and will cause you less problems in the long run.) You should have at least a 56k baud rate for your modem for convenient downloading and should not be behind a firewall that will block access to the university account. (If you need more information about this, please call me or email me at the contact points above.)
STUDY STUFF. There are two rules for online learners: (1) Don’t fall behind; (2) If you do, catch up quickly. Seriously, if you stay with the pace of two modules a week, you will do fine. . . but if you find yourself slogging back, not keeping up with the readings, and, well, noticing the finish line keeps getting farther behind, you will need to do double time. Online courses are not easier than classroom courses. It just seems that way when you register for them.
THE 12 MODULES. There are twelve modules to this course and you will be expected to complete two a week during the 6 weeks of this summer course. Course assignments are time-sensitive and time-stamped when you submit them. All normal classroom requirements apply here: you must “show up” for all classes (indicated by your consistent accessing and responding to various response prompts, reading assignments, quizzes, and paper submissions), submit materials “on time” (all due dates will be specified and time-linked within the Blackboard system), and comply with all other universities regulations concerning plagiarism and personal integrity.
EACH MODULE CONSISTS OF 3 OR 4 PARTS:
1. 1. Reading Assignment (What to read; discussion questions)
2. 2. Lecture and Discussion (An overview of materials; extra features; discussion questions)
3. 3. Journal Entry (Your own spiritual or philosophical journal to record your reactions to readings; some are private (send to me alone); others are public.
4. 4. Activities (each module may have one or two “special activities” to observe, submit, interact with your classmates).
HOW BEST TO READ AND RESPOND TO THE MODULES
1. 1. Always read the “Reading Assignment” first, and post answers to the questions listed.
2. 2. Next, read the “Lecture and Discussion,” which is designed to give you a broad overview of the materials to be read, and then post answers to the questions asked on the discussion board.
3. 3. Next, complete any Journal Entry assignment, following the instructions to either:
a. a. POST to the DISCUSSION BOARD (“public”) or,
b. b. SEND me a text file (“private”) via the Digital Dropbox
4. 4. Finally, complete any “Activity” that asks you to perform some special writing exercise, research, or interaction with the assigned texts, and small group.
All participants are hereby forewarned that “attendance” is taken in this class, just like any other. How so? The way the Blackboard course shell works, I am able to track the number of hits each assignment gets, who has read it, and who has submitted things on time. You are required to meet every due date. Those who cumulatively miss due dates will receive reductions in total course grade and on individual assignments.
All participants are hereby forewarned that no plagiarism will be tolerated and all suspected cases of borrowing without proper citation and documentation will be turned over to the appropriate College advising office. As an administrator of the University, I am sworn to uphold our policies—and, in fact, in regard to online course delivery, my office ideal (interactive distance education for all learners) <http://ideal.bgsu.edu>, is the compliance office for the University at large. We are well aware of all the known sites for prepackaged papers. And, since I operate a web site on Lewis and am pretty well aware of all the major secondary sources on and off the web, you will have a hard time getting an “unoriginal” paper or answer past me.
After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:
Course Outline (12 Modules)
WEEK ONE (May 19-23)
Module 1: Meeting C. S. Lewis on His Own Ground
Module 2: An Introduction to C. S. Lewis: His Life and Times
WEEK TWO (May 27-30)
Module 3: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe
Module 4: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
WEEK THREE (June 2-6)
Module 5: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"
Module 6: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair
WEEK FOUR (June 9-13)
Module 7: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy
Module 8: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew
WEEK FIVE (June 16-20)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last
Module 10: Out of the Silent Planet
WEEK SIX (June 23-27)
Module 11: Perelandra
Module 12: That Hideous Strength
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED IN THE EMAIL ADDRESSED TO ME <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
(1) What is the title of the autobiography of Lewis that is required for this course?
(2) Why is it futile, according to Edwards, for an ENG 480/680 student to try to plagiarize during this course?
(3) What’s peculiar about the order in which we will read things?
(4) When is the first paper due?
(5) When is the midterm exam scheduled?