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To ask what is the origin of stories (however qualified) is to ask what is the origin of language and of the mind.

J R R Tolkien, On Fairy Stories.

The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by
the veil of familiarity. The child enjoys his cold meat, otherwise dull to him, by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own
bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savory for having been dipped in a storyby
putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it.
C S Lewis, On Stories.

It was not man who made the myths but the myths, or the archetypal substance they reveal, which made man.
Owen Barfield, The Rediscovery of Meaning

Course Description:
This course explores the remarkable collection of English writers known as the Oxford Inklings, a group of
literary friends who produced an astounding body of work throughout the 20th century. In stark contrast to
prevailing literary trends, the Inklings and their friends sought to probe the interconnection between a rich
literary, mythological imagination, on the one hand, and Christian theological, spiritual and even esoteric
teachings, on the other. They produced works of theology, history, poetry, philosophy, and criticism
alongside supernatural thrillers, autobiography, detective stories, science fiction, spiritual writings, and some
of the seminal works of 20th century fantasy for both children and adults. Their works are often artistically
stunning and many continue to be popular today.

The writers to be studied include Owen Barfield, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy L.
Sayers, and Dom Bede Griffiths. We will approach their works through philosophical, theological, and literary
lenses, seeking both to understand their substantive religious and spiritual visions, and to assess how they
formally embodied these visions in various genres. Along the way, we will also address a number of questions
relevant to students of religion today: why is it that childrens literature is so often the medium for much
contemporary thinking about spirit, ethics, even politics, and other great questions of life? What is the role of
fantasy and the imagination in religion, spirituality, and philosophy? How does all of this relate to questions
about secularity, disenchantment, reenchantment, and the consistent return of religion even within the
modern age?

PARP 6089
Fall 2014 (3 units) Thursdays 3-6 pm
Instructor: Jacob Sherman <>
Office Hours: Mondays 10 11:30 am; 3 4:30 pm (or by appointment)

Learning Objectives:
When this course is complete, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate familiarity with the writings, methods, and figures associated with the Oxford literary
and religious movement known as the Inklings
2. Describe the larger cultural, literary, and religious influences at work in the Inklings and their
3. Identify the theological, philosophical and spiritual visions animating the work of the Inklings, both
visions they hold in common and those about which they disagree
4. Address questions concerning the coordination of substantive philosophical, theological and critical
positions and their literary, mythopoeic and artistic presentation
5. Critically discuss and evaluate, both orally and in writing, the continuing importance of myth and
myth creation in the contemporary world

Learning Activities
Active participation in class discussion: Students are expected to have completed and reflected upon the
readings before class meetings so that they can actively participate in discussions.

Reflective Essay: Each student will produce an 4-8 page reflective essay or work of creative non-fiction
addressing the role of myth and the imagination in their own experience of religion, spirituality, and the

Research paper/Integrative Project: Each student will prepare either (a) a traditional research paper, or (b) a
creative integrative final project with an accompanying theoretical commentary. Students choosing option (a)
will produce a final research paper of 16-20 pages addressing any topic relating to the course material, but
drawing on additional, out-of-class research as well. Option (b) provides an opportunity for students who
have experience in the arts to create and present an original work of art (literary, dramatic, musical, visual,
etc.) and to reflect on it theoretically. In addition to presenting an original work of art, students will complete
a critical essay of 8-12 pages engaging in theoretical and aesthetic reflection on the medium, tradition, and
themes of the project..

Each student will make a brief presentation of their paper or project in one of the final classes.

All written work should be spell-checked and grammar-checked, written in standard English, and free of run-
on sentences, sentence fragments, and unnecessary jargon. All information, ideas, phrasing and analyses that
are not your own must be referenced using a standard citation style (typically either Chicago or APA) Refer
to a citation guide if you are unfamiliar with these forms. See The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, for
advice on clear and concise writing. The CIIS Library offers a number of resources to strengthen your
writing here:

Criteria for Assessment
Assignment Due Date Percentage of Grade
1. Reading 10/13/2013 30%
2. Final Paper 12/19/2013 50%
3. Class Participation 20%

Explanation of Assignments:

Required Texts (available at the CIIS Bookstore):
1. Owen Barfield. Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry.
2. Owen Barfield. The Rediscovery of Meaning.

3. Bede Griffiths. The Golden String.
4. CS Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
5. CS Lewis, Perelandera.
6. C S Lewis. Till We Have Faces.
7. Dorothy Sayers. The Mind of the Maker.
8. JRR Tolkien. The Silmarillion.
9. Charles Williams. The Place of the Lion.

Additional selected material from books and journals will be distributed in class or online.

Recommended Texts
There is a tremendous amount of secondary literature on the Inklings and more is published every year. The
journals VII (Seven) and The Journal of Inkling Studies are devoted exclusively to such work. Weekly handouts
will direct students to many of the excellent studies of the Inlkings and their works.

For the general purposes of our class, however, students are especially encouraged to consult R J Reilly,
Romantic Religion: Barfield, Lewis, Williams, Tolkien (Lindisfarne Press, 2006).

Special note since we are at CIIS: Students interested in the surprising place of archetypal cosmology in C S
Lewiss famous childrens books are highly encouraged to consult Michael Ward, Planet Narnia: The Seven
Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford University Press, 2007).


1. Introduction: The Jerusalem Bible. Genesis 1-11. Trans. Joseph Leo Alston et al (including J.R.R.
Tolkien). Ed. Alexander Jones. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1966.

2. 9/5: Myth, Story, and Reality 1
a. George MacDonald, The Fantastic Imagination
b. C.S. Lewis, On Stories
c. J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories
d. G K Chesterton "On Fairy Tales"
e. Stephen R L Clark "How to Believe in Fairies"

3. Myth, Story, and Reality 2
a. C S Lewis, On Three Ways of Writing for Children
b. Dorothy Sayers, Free Will and Miracle, The Mind of the Maker, ch.5
c. Owen Barfield, Myth, Imagination, and Philosophical Double Vision
d. Owen Barfield, Imagery in Language and Metaphor in Poetry

4. The Problems of Disenchantment: C S Lewis, The Abolition of Man

5. The Rebirth of Myth? Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances

6. Myth and Incarnation: Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances (continued); selections from The
Rediscovery of Meaning

7. Science Fictions Entry into Mythic Worlds: C S Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet and C S Lewis,

8. Childrens Literature and the Myth of Narnia
a. C S Lewis, The Magician's Nephew
b. C S Lewis, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
c. C S Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader
d. Highly Recommended: Michael Ward, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S.
Lewis (Oxford University Press, 2007).

9. Tolkiens Myth for England
a. Jeffrey, David. "Tolkien as Philologist." Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader. Ed. Jane
Chance. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. 61-80. On Reserve
b. Read Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils," pp. 29-112

10. Tolkiens Myth for England (continued)
a. Read Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils," pp. 113-316

11. The Myth and Mystery the Artist Herself
a. Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker
b. Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night

12. Myth Reimagined: C S Lewis, Till We Have Faces

13. The Incarnation of the Archetypes:
a. Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion
b. Charles Willliams, The Precursor and the Incarnation of the Kingdom
c. Charles William, The Practice of Substitution

14. Entering Other Myths: Bede Griffiths, The Golden String

15. Conclusion and presentations

Instructor Biography: Jacob Holsinger Sherman, PhD
Jacob is Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He
received his PhD in Philosophical Theology from the University of Cambridge and taught previously as a

Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Kings College London. His writings have appeared
in journals such as Religious Studies, Modern Theology, Spiritus and The Heythrop Journal. In addition to co-editing
The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies (SUNY Press, 2009), he is the author of Partakers of
the Divine: Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy (Fortress Press, 2014). He is currently researching his next
book, Imagining Creation: Ecology, Poiesis, and the Philosophy of Religion.


Attendance and Tardiness
Students are expected to attend all class meetings regularly and punctually. Students are assigned an F
(Failure) or NP (No Pass) grade if they are absent for more than 20 percent of a course. This maximum
includes both excused and unexcused absences. Three instances of tardiness or leaving early are considered
equivalent to one absence. Instructors may permit a student to deviate from this rule on the grounds of illness
necessitating confinement for 24 hours or more, a death in the family, or other extreme emergencies. The
instructor may request verification of these circumstances by a letter from a medical professional, the Dean of
Students, or the Academic Vice President as appropriate.

Academic Integrity
Plagiarism: Creative and original scholarly research is at the heart of the Institutes academic purpose. It is
essential that faculty and students pursue their academic work with the utmost integrity. This means that all
academic work produced by an individual is the result of the individuals efforts and that those efforts
acknowledge explicitly any contribution by another person.

Reproducing anothers work and submitting it as ones own work or without acknowledging the source is
called plagiarism, or stealing the intellectual property of another, which is the antithesis of scholarly
research. Any use of other ideas or others expression in any medium without attribution is a serious violation
of academic standards. If confirmed, plagiarism subjects a student to disciplinary action.

Duplication of Work: With regard to dissertation and thesis research and regular class term papers, projects
must not be a duplication of student work previously submitted for fulfillment of either course requirements
or previous research at CIIS or elsewhere. Such activity, if confirmed, subjects a student to disciplinary action.
Disciplinary action can include (a) failing the course in which any such work was submitted, (b) expulsion
from the Institute, and (c) revocation of any degree or academic honor.

Sanctions arising from a determination of plagiarism may be applied by an instructor (if coursework is
involved), by a program committee, or by the Academic Vice President. All sanctions may be appealed as
outlined in the General Student Complaint Procedure found in the Institute Policies section.

Mid-semester Evaluation of Instruction
Halfway through the course, students are to be given the opportunity to provide informal, verbal comments
to the instructor in a constructive spirit. This is a time for the instructor to receive feedback on his or her
efforts, and also a time for students to reflect upon their own. This conversation is to be facilitated by a
student chosen by the class. The instructor is to leave the room (or be offline if the course is an online one)
while the facilitator is selected.

Credit Units
According to federal mandate, each credit unit should be accompanied by 15 hours of class time and 30 hours
or student work outside of class. Accordingly, for a 3 credit course, one should meet 15 times over a semester
for three hours each (breaks included) and each student should expect to spend approximately six hours a
week on the course in preparation (reading, reflection, etc.) and research.