2014 C.S. Lewis Summer Conference, July 21-31, 2014, Oxford & Cambridge, England
Afternoon Seminars & Workshops
OX-04 The Classical Virtues & Vices
SESSION ONE – What Price Knowledge: The Dangers of Plucking Forbidden Fruit
Whether we call him Faust or Prometheus, Ahab or Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll, literature abounds with tales of would-be heroes who, in their search for power or wisdom or immortality, end up, like Adam, plucking forbidden fruit. Though their taboo act may have been motivated by good intentions, they all discover in the end that the fruit is sour, that their action has made them both a curse and a contagion. In this session, I will first define the major qualities of this archetype whom critics have dubbed the Byronic hero, then survey some of his major incarnations in history, literature, and the arts, and conclude by considering how Uncle Andrew and Queen Jadis (in The Magician’s Nephew) make the dangers of plucking forbidden fruit understandable for adults and children alike.
SESSION TWO – Men without Chests: The Dangers of a Values-Free Education
In The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis discusses what happens when society abandons its duty to educate its children in accordance with fixed moral/ethical standards (the Tao). This session will consist of three parts. First, I will define and defend Lewis’s concept of the Tao and trace how a values-free approach to education kills virtue, wonder, and courage. Second, I will take a look at three literary works that offer dark prophecies similar to those of Lewis: Dickens’ Hard Times, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, and Dante’s Inferno. Third, I will show how C. S. Lewis broadens the scope of The Abolition of Man to consider wider socio-political issues: namely, the frequent attempts made by post-Enlightenment societies to build new, man-made utopias free from the “oppressive weight” of the Tao and its cardinal and classical virtues.
Louis Markos – Professor in English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, He is the author of ten books, including From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics and Lewis Agonistes: How C. S. Lewis can Train us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World. He has also produced a series with the Teaching Company, The Life and Writings of C. S.Lewis, published over 100 articles and reviews, and speaks widely across the United States.