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History 4972: Research Seminar in the Life & Thought of C.S. Lewis: Syllabus

Course Syllabus for HIST 4972

History 4972                                                                                        Dr. John Wigger

Spring 2013                                                                                         312 Read Hall

Tuesday 6:00-8:20                                                                               Office: 882-6019

Location: 304 Read Hall                                                                       Cell: 573-239-3809

Office Hours: Tues. & Wed. 2:00-4:00 p.m. and by appointment                      


Research Seminar in the Life and Thought of C.S. Lewis


Course Description


The purpose of this course is twofold: (1) to learn about the life and thought of C.S. Lewis and how it connects to broader religious and cultural trends, and (2) to write an original research paper, using both primary and secondary sources. The final version of a paper should be about 20-25 pages in length (12 point font, double spaced), including either footnotes or endnotes in Chicago style.

We will begin by reading a biography of Lewis by Alan Jacobs. We will then read and discuss several of Lewis’s books. For each of these books, students will be expected to hand in at the beginning of class a 500-word book review that concentrates on critical evaluation, not just summing up what the book says. Like a good movie review, a book review should not just say whether a book is good or bad, but why.

After reading Jacobs and the Lewis books, we will spend the rest of the semester developing and writing the capstone papers. The bookstore has a volume of Lewis’s letters that we will not discuss in class, but which might prove helpful in writing your paper. Research seminars can be demanding, but they should also be enjoyable. Here is your chance to develop your own project around ideas that you care about.




Grades will be based on the first draft of the paper (100 points), the final paper (100 points), seven book reviews (10 points each) and class attendance and participation (30 points). Late book reviews will lose 2 points for each day late; draft and final papers will lose 5 points for each day late.


Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person’s work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards academic dishonesty as an extremely serious matter, with serious consequences that range from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, consult the course instructor.


If you have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and need assistance, please notify the Office of Disability Services, S5 Memorial Union, 882-4696 or the course instructor. Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate your needs.




 (Subject to revision)


Jan. 22             Introduction


Jan. 29             Discussion of Alan Jacobs, The Narnian


Feb. 5              Discussion of C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy


Feb. 12            Discussion of C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce or The Screwtape Letters


Feb. 19            Discussion of C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


Feb. 26            Discussion of C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces or Out of the Silent Planet


Mar. 5              Discussion of C. S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Mar. 12            Discussion of C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


Mar. 19            Library research session


Mar. 26            Spring break


April 2              Presentation of topics, with sources and outlines


April 9              Film: Shadowlands


Apr. 16            Progress updates


Apr. 23            Discussion of paper drafts


Apr. 30            Discussion of paper drafts


May 7              Final papers due



Required books:


Alan Jacobs, The Narnian (Harper, 2008)

C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Houghton Mifflin, 1966)

C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (Harper, 2001)

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Harper, 2001)

C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces (Harcourt, 1984)

C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (Scribner, 2003)

C. S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Harper, 2010)

C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (Harper, 2001)

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (Harper, 2001)


Note: Any edition of these books will do.



 C. S. Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis and Walter Hooper (Harcourt, 1966)