Senior Seminar: Tolkien/Lewis
Description: This course is designed to be an intensive study in the works and literary thought of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, both fiction and non-fiction.
During the first semester we will read Tolkien's fiction works and also what he wrote about fantasy literature (what he also called ‘mythopoeia’) in order to understand what he thought about the art of writing fantasy. What is valuable about this kind of literature? What makes for a good fantasy? How should it be read? These and other questions will be the subject of our course through class discussions, brief lectures, and assignments outside of class. This course is a journey into a ‘perilous realm’ that we hope will cause deep and even unsettling reflections in our student's minds and hearts, so that the best that Tolkien has to offer will really be grasped. If we are successful, you will feel like you are wandering. Yet, “not all who wander are lost.” This journey invites us to find things that have been lost, including ourselves.
During the second semester the course is designed to be an intensive study in the works and literary thought of C.S Lewis. We will learn how he came to answer important questions about fiction literature: Why read it? Why should it be written? How should it be read and evaluated? What does Christianity have to do with it? To discover his answers, we will read and discuss some of his fiction and non-fiction works, and you will be given the opportunity to understand his ideas, evaluate them, and even put them into practice.
Grade Level: 10-12
Prerequisites: Students should strong readers and able to read at a high level. They should also be proficient with English grammar, be able to write grammatically complete sentences, and be able to edit their work with the help of a parent (if needed).
First Semester Texts: The Hobbit (Houghton-Mifflin, 2007), The Lord of the Rings, 50th Anniversary 1 Vol. Edition (Mariner Books, 2005), Tree and Leaf (HarperCollins, 2001), The Silmarillion, 2nd Edition (Houghton-Mifflin, 2004).
Second Semester Texts: The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, The Magician’s Nephew, Book 6 in The Chronicles of Narnia, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature (2002), An Experiment in Criticism (Canto Classics).
Students will need a USB headset microphone (built-in microphones also work).