The Life and Writing of C.S. Lewis (55+)

C.S. Lewis (1898–1963) is well known for his fiction, especially The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters. Lewis taught at Oxford (where he befriended J.R.R. Tolkien) and Cambridge, and wrote more than 30 books, including non-fiction philosophical works such as Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed—the last a memoir about his late-life relationship with American writer Joy Davidman, which inspired the 1993 film Shadowlands. In 2013 Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

We will travel to Narnia and back by experiencing the wit, wisdom and imagination of C.S. Lewis. Along the way, we’ll find thoughtful parallels with our own lives through sharing and through creative expression such as writing, art and photography.

Note: This course involves required reading.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Introduction to C.S. Lewis

We will learn about C.S. Lewis’s roles in both world wars, his academic career at Oxford and Cambridge, and his pivotal relationships with the writers J.R.R. Tolkien and Joy Davidman. We will discuss an overview of Lewis’ vast array of fiction and non-fiction works, finding links to our own life journeys.

Week 2: To Narnia with C.S. Lewis

We will read excerpts from the ageless series: The Chronicles of Narnia, with reference to the socio-political milieu of that time, such as the impact of the Second World War. We will also discuss literary theory and biblical allegory in the Narnia series. We will uncover connections to our own lives, through sharing memories, stories, poetry and reflective writing.

Week 3: C.S. Lewis: Sci-fi and fiction writer

We will continue to explore the Narnia legacy, in addition to reading excerpts from C. S. Lewis’ imaginative adult fiction such as The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce and The Space Trilogy. We will share meaningful forms of creative expression, such as writing, photography and art.

Week 4: C.S. Lewis as philosopher/theologian

We will read and discuss excerpts from Lewis’ non-fiction works such as Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, as well as various lectures, essays, letters and wartime readings. We will uncover meaningful links to social justice issues of our time, to our own values, life journeys and in creative expression.

Week 5: Jack and Joy Lewis, a love story

We will read excerpts from works by American poet, Joy Davidman, whose relationship with C.S Lewis (nicknamed Jack) forever transformed the creator of Narnia. The untimely loss of Joy inspired Lewis’ memoir, A Grief Observed, as well as an outpouring of response by other authors in the form of biographical accounts, historical fiction, and the film Shadowlands. We will share ideas from our own life journeys, and in creative expression.

Week 6: Back from Narnia: Reflections on C. S. Lewis’ life and work

We will highlight course readings and other insights as we discuss the impact of C.S. Lewis’ life and writing. We will share forms of creative expression collected over the past few weeks, such as meaningful writing, poems, photography, art and artifacts.

How will I learn?

  • Discussions
  • Group work
  • Creative exercises
  • Readings
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

There is required reading for this course. Reading material will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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