The Fiction of C. S. Lewis



ENG 480/680: An Online Course/Summer I

(05/19/03 - 06/27/03)


Dr. Bruce Edwards

47 College Park


Bowling Green OH 43403




Here’s your

DUE: Tuesday, May 20,

Read this Course Syllabus tab from top to bottom, and, when you are done:

  1. Send me an email indicating that you have read it—and include in your email to me:
  2. Answers to the questions found at the VERY END OF THE SYLLABUS;


  1. Locate and click on the COMMUNICATION tab in the left menu,
    • then click on “Send EMAIL”;
    • and at the next screen click on “All USERS”

Ø        Ø        and then send the entire class a message that introduces yourself, telling all of us:
who you are
why you signed up for the course
whether it is your first online course; if not, tell us something about your experiences with online courses
your course goal

  1. After sending the group email, select DISCUSSION BOARD within COMMUNICATION tab, and post a reply message to the first thread ("Welcome. . .) and to my message (“Hi There. . .”) that answers the questions I ask therein (e.g., “what reading experience you have had with C. S. Lewis?”)



Course Syllabus



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.


Required Books

All by C. S. Lewis:


  1. The Chronicles of Narnia (7 volumes—available in boxed set or single volumes)
    1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    2. Prince Caspian
    3. Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”
    4. The Silver Chair
    5. The Horse and His Boy
    6. The Magician’s Nephew
    7. The Last Battle
  2. Out of the Silent Planet
  3. Perelandra
  4. That Hideous Strength
  5. Surprised by Joy (autobiography of 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 web portal and the course materials for this course. During the course you will read, respond, interact, submit assignments completed within the 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.




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).




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.


 “Attendance Policy”

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.


Plagiarism Policy

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) <>, 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.



  • Willingness to learn and employ the terms with which literary scholars discuss and analyze literature.
  • Active imagination to participate in the adventures that will draw you into the world of Lewis’s fantasies.
  • Openness to exploring theological concepts and comparing them with other points of view with seriousness and tact.



After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss and analyze the key themes, images, and characters in each of the seven Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy
  • Describe the context for the creation of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy within the literary career and biography of C. S. Lewis.
  • Appreciate the literary significance and influence of the Chronicles and The Space Trilogy in a deeper and more comprehensive way.
  • Understand the life and religious commitments of C. S. Lewis and their impact on his fiction


Course Requirements

  • Answer all discussion questions and respond to all other assigned prompts via the discussion board or digital drop box as required.
  • Complete each of the weekly six quizzes  (one per week as assigned; will usually be posted mid-week; you will have 24 hrs. to complete)
  • Submit one short and one long paper on a topic negotiated with the instructor (first due date: Fri., May 30; second due date: Fri., June 20)
  • Complete midterm exam (will be posted Thursday, June 5; must be completed by Saturday, June 7, 7AM)
  • Complete final exam  (will be posted Wed., June 25; must be completed by Friday, June 27, 7 AM)
  • Participate consistently in the course discussions and responses


Course Outline  (12 Modules)


WEEK ONE (May 19-23)

Module 1: Meeting C. S. Lewis on His Own Ground

  • Reading “Meditation in a Toolshed”
  • Posting  Answers to the Discussion Board


Module 2: An Introduction to C. S. Lewis: His Life and Times

  • Introducing C. S. Lewis: His Life and Times
  • Surprised by Joy: Lewis’s Theological Autobiography
  • Fathoming the Depths of Lewis's Craft and Convictions
  • Why Narnia’s Popularity?: Renewing the Childlike Imagination in Us All
  • Some Important Terms

WEEK TWO (May 27-30)

Module 3: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe

  • Through the Wardrobe: Entering Lewis's Never-Never Land
  • Creature Comforts and Challenges: Aslan's World
  • Deep and Deeper Magic Still
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme


Module 4: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

  • Returning to Narnia: What's Changed and Why
  • Who Do You Trust?: Old vs. New Narnia
  • The Making of a King
  • Heroes and Heroines: What it Takes to be a Leader
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme

WEEK THREE (June 2-6)

Module 5: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"

  • Learning to be Heroic: Eustace Clarence Scrubb and Why He "Almost Deserves" His Name
  • To the Utter East: the Challenges of King Caspian's Crew
  • Unlocking the Secrets of Narnia’s Past, Present, and Future
  • A Happy Ending Never Hurt Anyone
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme


Module 6: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

  • Blowing into Narnia: Jill Pole's Way
  • The Four Signs and the Power of Faith
  • The Menacing Menu
  • Puddleglum and Peril
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme

WEEK FOUR (June 9-13)

Module 7: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

  • A New Narnian Destination: Calormen and Talking Beasts
  • Finding One's Way Home: Shasta and Bree
  • Character is Habit Forming: Stubbornness Is as Stubbornness Does
  • Facing the Enemy: Oneself
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme


Module 8: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew

  • The Origins of Narnia: The "Inside Story"
  • Wickeder and Wickedest: Uncle Andrew and the Witch
  • Saving the Best for Last
  • Into This World and the Next
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme

WEEK FIVE (June 16-20)

Module 9: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle

  • The True and False Aslans
  • The Challenge to Persevere
  • Why All Good Things Never End: Beyond Narnia
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme


Module 10: Out of the Silent Planet

  • Lewis’s mythopoeia and other 20th Century S/F
  • The Role of Ransom and Malacandra’s Creatures
  • Extending the fall: how the bent one parallel’s other literary villains
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme

WEEK SIX (June 23-27)

Module 11: Perelandra

  • Lewis and Milton
  • Paradise Lost and Regained
  • The “Violence” of Perelandra
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme


Module 12: That Hideous Strength

  • Explaining earth’s silence
  • Ransom as Arthurian hero
  • Climax and Foreshadowing: Lewis’s metaphysical viewpoints
  • What We Learn: Image, Character, Theme
  • Summing up: Lewis in Context as Fantasist
  • Comparing Lewis with other fantasy writers: differences and similarities
  • Lewis’s other fiction and nonfiction
  • Preparing for the final




(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?