Newsletter for C.S. Lewis College

A few days ago, I received a kind email from Peyton Beard, who is Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs with the C.S. Lewis Foundation. He had seen last month’s post on the C.S. Lewis college and was nice enough to send along a link to the foundation’s newsletter, which includes loads of information and pictures of the new college. With Mr. Beard’s permission and encouragement, I am posting the link to the newsletter and to the Foundation’s website.  Both of these excellent resources are truly valuable tools for any Lewis reader. Some of you may also want to get on the mailing list for updates. I know many of us will watch eagerly the development of this exciting academic endeavor. It’s wonderful to see that corporate sponsor Hobby Lobby is putting to good use all the money my mother has spent in their stores!

“Myth” Placement: How and Why Popular Culture Monkeys with Mythology – Part 1

I think about classical mythology frequently.  Like Sayf Bowlin (thanks again for the super guest post!),  I was fascinated with the stories when I was a child, and I find that the literature I enjoy for myself and assign for my students has a definite theme of Greco-Roman deities.  Recently, as I was teaching William Butler Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan,” a powerful but distinctly unpleasant little gem, I was thinking about how Yeats used the story of Leda, usually captured by artists as a nice opportunity to pose a pretty girl with a pretty bird, as a vivid reminder of the way those in power use and discard others with no regard for either long- or short-term consequences.

Myths, despite their seemingly fixed narratives and characters, have always been in flux, changing, developing, rather than remaining as static artifacts.  Sometimes it is easy, particularly for those of us who are familiar with the classics, to stomp out of a movie or throw down a book and exclaim, “Well, that isn’t how that myth goes,” and certainly, there has been some mythological tinkering that is  just appalling in its disregard for any of the accepted elements of the stories as we know them. But rather than wringing our hands over kids these days who don’t know Tartarus from Tartar sauce, it might be more interesting to examine why writers, artists, and movie makers alter mythology. Sometimes, as we’ll see, there is not much depth or thought put behind the decision to change a traditionally accepted version of a classical myth, but often, those changes are done for very complex and thought-provoking reasons. In order to make this easier going, I’ll post this part, and later one(s) to follow.

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EBH: Are you Smarter than an Eighth Grader?

At my college, we had an open house for local eighth graders earlier this week. The folks in charge came up with a theme of finding the “treasure” of learning, so the different areas of the college gamely went along to do pirate displays about their areas. It was great fun, with some terrific displays and games for our visitors. I always love a chance to dress up like a pirate, wave a sword at people, and threaten to have them all flogged (that just doesn’t fly in the classroom, I’m afraid).

As part of our Arts and Sciences Department table (decorated with props I snagged from my son’s room, including a treasure chest full of books), we had a literary treasure hunt game, for which students could supply answers as they came through the displays. I intentionally chose questions about books I would have read myself were I in eighth grade now (shudder!), using those to help students realize they do know what some of these literary terms mean. What’s a protagonist? Oh! Frodo Baggins! Got it! [Read more…]