Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.
Ranging across favourite reading, schools, youthful friendships, personal lives, early religious outlooks, and First World War soldiering experiences, we learn what Lewis and Tolkien had in common when they met in 1925, and what they did not. We join their conspiracy to revolutionise the Oxford English School.
Mythopoeia, Allegory, and Inklings
Sampling their poetry, we read Tolkien’s epic romance of Beren and Lúthien through Lewis’s eyes. We listen in on the late-night conversation that turned Lewis to Christianity in 1931, and ponder whether it changed Tolkien too. We join the thinking, drinking Inklings and find what Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and others brought to the brew.
Weighing up two radically different attempts to see through medieval eyes, we pitch Tolkien’s Hobbit against Lewis’s academic and allegorical output. As we reach the zenith of their friendship, we witness their pact to write science fiction. We pursue Lewis powering through his space trilogy and examine the inspirations it shares with Tolkien’s Númenor.
Atlantis and Mars
We see what we can salvage from the flotsam of Tolkien’s unfinished time-travel experiment, The Lost Road and measure how much of him went into Lewis’s interplanetary hero, Elwin Ransom. Glancing forward to the 1940s, we ponder Tolkien’s Notion Club Papers as a portrait of the Inklings.
In the afternoon we follow the friends’ footsteps across Oxford and its colleges with a walking tour to Merton and Magdalen Colleges.
The Lion, the Witch, and the War of the Ring
Unrolling our maps, we explore two remarkable worlds as attempts to reconsecrate nature and refill the wells of the imagination. We trace Lewis’ impact on Middle-earth and Tolkien’s on Narnia. Finally, we watch them drift apart in life, only to leave an inextricably interwoven legacy.
Destination: Merton and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford
Excursion Rating: Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.