Oxford Trip Showcases Life of C.S. Lewis
By Rachel Judy | July 13, 2011
The group outside of Christ Church.
Photo courtesy of Abigail Phillips
The works of C.S. Lewis have fascinated children and adults for decades, both for the captivating stories told, as well as the themes and messages they share. Each summer, a course offered by Regent University's School of Communication & the Arts takes a small group of student scholars inside the texts for a deeper look. "C.S. Lewis & Friends: Communication, Myth and Imagination" is an online course that stretches through the summer, but the centerpiece of the focused study is a week-long trip to Oxford, England.
From June 18-26, communication professors Dr. Bill Brown and Dr. Ben Fraser led a group of 18 through Lewis' life in Oxford, visiting the places that were important to him such as his home, The Kilns, Magdalen College, where Lewis taught, and the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The group also spent time in class discussions and learning from Lewis scholars.
"When you experience the home (The Kilns), the pubs, and The Eagle & Child, it gives a whole new meaning to Lewis and his writings," explained Donna Dean, a student earning a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema-Television. "Without this class I would not have the deep appreciation for his writings and the ability to understand the man behind the writings."
Brown and Fraser have led this trip for five years. "Oxford is a city created for learning—our students always enjoy the creative process of reading Lewis' writings and visiting the sites that nurtured his creative mind," explained Fraser. "The schools, libraries, pubs and countryside all contributed to his creative process. The fact that we are not only able to tour the Kilns, but enjoy a lecture by a local Lewis scholar in the back room all adds to the enchantment of the educational process."
"Students are immersed in the intellectual milieu of Oxford University, enabling them to experience and understand the context for the great works written by C.S. Lewis and his close friends among the Inklings," Brown added.
For distance students like Philip Hohle, the trip also provided a chance to interact with others in his program. "We found, just as Lewis did, that many wonderful conversations were staged on the many walks we took in and around Oxford," explained the School of Communication & the Arts doctoral student. "Studying Lewis' life gave me the perspective to fully appreciate the significance of an education that has become increasingly rare."
An in-depth study of an author like Lewis has several positive implications for the study of communication, Fraser explained. "First, his work was grounded in reality, and even his fictional works leave the reader with the feeling that he understood and wrestled with issues we all face. Four ordinary children enter an ordinary-looking wardrobe and come out changed," he said, refering to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. "We really never look at a wardrobe the same—fiction, yes, but in a way they face real issues we all face of promises kept, lies told and betrayal. Second, Lewis never oversimplified the truth nor were his stories overly sentimentalized."
"Some things one has to encounter firsthand to understand their effects," explained Abigail Phillips, a graduate student from the School of Education. "That's what it's like in Oxford ... full of inarticulate moments that you don't ever want to end."
Learn more about the School of Communication & the Arts.
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888
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