Introducing Newly Named Wade Co-Directors Crystal and David C. Downing
The Marion E. Wade Center is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Crystal Downing and Dr. David C. Downing as co-directors and co-holders of the Marion E. Wade Chair of Christian Thought. As Lisa Richmond, Director of Library and Archives at Wheaton College, explains, “The opportunity to have two such distinguished scholars leading the Wade Center is very exciting and holds great promise for continuing the Wade’s strong legacy of work on the seven authors. We are thrilled that the Downings are joining Wheaton in this role.” As co-directors, the Downings will share administrative responsibilities, and as a joint appointment they will also have significantly more time to invest in writing and research on the Wade authors. They will take up their responsibilities at the Wade Center on July 1, 2018.
Dr. Crystal Downing is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College, PA. She has published on a variety of topics, with much of her recent scholarship focused on the relationship between cultural theory and religious faith. Her first book, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers (Palgrave Macmillan 2004) received an international award from the Dorothy L. Sayers Society in Cambridge, England in 2009. The thought of Sayers and C.S. Lewis is evident in Crystal’s next two books, How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith (IVP Academic 2006) and Changing Signs of Truth (IVP Academic 2012). The success of her fourth book, Salvation from Cinema (Routledge 2016) has led to her current book project, The Wages of Cinema: Looking through the Lens of Dorothy L. Sayers. Crystal has received a number of teaching awards and was the recipient of the Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant for 2001 from the Wade Center. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Dr. David Downing currently serves as the R.W. Schlosser Professor of English at Elizabethtown College, PA. He has published widely on C.S. Lewis, including Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy (UMass 1992), The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith (IVP 2002), which was awarded the Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant for 2000, Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C.S. Lewis (IVP 2005), and Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles (Jossey-Bass 2005). David is also the editor of C.S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress: The Wade Annotated Edition (Eerdmans, 2014). A prolific speaker and writer, David has spoken extensively throughout the U.S. and internationally. He has received numerous teaching awards and holds a PhD in English from the University of California at Los Angeles.
The Downings are the first to be jointly appointed to the Wade directorship in the more than 50-year history of the Wade Center. They follow Wade founder and first director Clyde S. Kilby (1965–1980), director Lyle W. Dorsett (1983–1990), and director Christopher W. Mitchell (1994–2013).
The Marion E. Wade Center presents a series of lectures on C.S. Lewis’s lesser known works of literary criticism by Dr. Jerry Root and Mr. Mark Neal. The fourth and final lecture in this series, on English Literature in the 16th Century Excluding Drama and Selected Literary Essays, will take place at 7:30 pm on April 19, 2018 in Bakke Auditorium.
It is said that to write English Literature in the 16th Century Excluding Drama Lewis read every book published in English in the sixteenth century. Like a Seurat painting, he is able to take all the dots of color and bring into focus a glorious landscape. Lewis divides the literature of the sixteenth century into two major categories, the drab and the golden. Among the literature of the drab period are the works of religious controversy. Lewis may be one of the few people who ever read thoroughly both sides of the Reformation. This book is worthy for that reason alone, but the golden authors, for Lewis, were Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. In this book, Lewis reveals why those two authors were the giants of that era.
While Lewis was known as a literary historian and critic of medieval and renaissance literature, Selected Literary Essays shows that his interests were far more wide-ranging. A good academic needs to feel free to explore academic curiosity. One should not fear to leave any stone unturned. Questions lead to answers which lead to discoveries. This promotes awe and wonder and sometimes, in Lewis’s case, worship. This book shows the width of his tastes. Anybody who wants to break out of narrow self-referential approaches to life would benefit from these essays.
The Wade Center will host a book discussion group on C.S. Lewis's novel Perelandra on Monday evenings April 30 through May 21, 2018 in the Wade Center classroom, 7-8 pm. The discussion group is free and open to the public.
Perelandra, written in 1943, is the second science fiction book in C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. It was later followed by That Hideous Strength (1945). Jay Moses, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, will lead the discussion.
Joe Rigney (MA, Bethlehem College & Seminary) is a professor of literature and theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of The Things of Earth and Live Like a Narnian.
Dr. Barron will present from his research on C.S. Lewis and the Jewish Imagination. As Andrew reflects, “I am Jewish. I read Lewis and I found a welcoming heart and an associated way of thinking. There was a hospitality in his words that were soothingly and disturbingly familiar. His writing somehow seemed welcoming and open, while at the same time intense, vivid and cheerful. He seemed to be making light and accessible that which was weighty and philosophical. Attracted and repulsed at the thought of becoming a Christian, Lewis made me feel at home and homesick. It was many years later that I realized what had happened to me. In Surprised by Joy, Lewis says that 'people who are naturally religious find difficulty in understanding the horror of such a revelation. Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about "man’s search for God." To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.'
Lewis has continued to be a friend. Ancillary data in my doctoral research showed Lewis to be overrepresented in his influence in the personal journeys of Jewish people who became followers of Jesus. This data stimulated me to undertake further qualitative and quantitative study in order to understand why Lewis resonates with Jewish people. I am trying to articulate Lewis’s appeal to the Jewish imagination.”
The lecture will be held in the Marion E. Wade Center's Bakke Auditorium and is free and open to the public.
The conference will also offer three special afternoon tea time short lectures presented by other Wheaton College faculty, with ample Q&A time, and a variety of morning C.S. Lewis-themed workshops led by C.S. Lewis Institute staff.
Conference participants will enjoy lunches and dinners in Wheaton College’s Anderson Commons Dining Hall, and a variety of other special activities in the Wade Center.
Further information: www.cslewisinstitute.org/Wheaton2018
The Marion E. Wade Center was recently awarded a Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to assess conservation needs on a selection of books from the personal library of C.S. Lewis. It is the first NEH grant received by Wheaton College. The conservation assessment will be conducted in spring 2018 by a professional book conservator from Chicago’s Conservation Center, who will spend a week examining 420 volumes from Lewis’s library judged most in need of treatment, and will then prepare a detailed assessment for each volume along with cost estimates to complete the conservation work.
The Wade Center owns over 2,400 volumes from C.S. Lewis’s personal library, the majority of which were purchased in 1986 from a library in England which had obtained them following Lewis’s death. These library books form one of the Wade Center's most heavily accessed collections, making them especially vulnerable to deterioration due to regular handling. The volumes, never before evaluated by a conservator and in varying physical condition, contain Lewis’s annotations of unique, unpublished content. As a result, they are a significant and valued resource for gaining insight into Lewis and his thoughts.
Following the assessment, the Wade Center will create a long-term fundraising plan for conservation treatment of the books based on the assessment recommendations. Since part of the Wade Center’s mission is to make its collections accessible and available for present and future generations of researchers and visitors, this grant is integral to its ongoing preservation efforts and related fundraising initiatives.
The Marion E. Wade Center of Wheaton College, Illinois is a major research collection of materials by and about seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.
Announcing the Muriel Fuller Endowment for the Imagination and the Arts
The Marion E. Wade Center is delighted to announce the establishment of the Muriel Fuller Endowment for the Imagination and the Arts, funded by the generosity of The Esmond Nissim Foundation, Inc.
Through her friendship with Wade Center founder Clyde S. Kilby, Muriel Fuller, Wheaton College Class of 1923, was an early contributor to the fledging “Lewis Collection” at Wheaton College. The Muriel Fuller Endowment for the Imagination and the Arts continues her legacy of support for the Marion E. Wade Center and the work of the seven Wade authors: Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. These authors were creative and imaginative artists in a variety of media, including the literary arts such as stories and poetry as well as drama. A number of these writers were gifted in the fine arts, and music was also a significant and valued part of their lives. The creativity of the Wade’s seven authors has in turn inspired a number of other artists throughout the years.
The Muriel Fuller Endowment for the Imagination and the Arts enables the Wade Center to feature the creative accomplishments of the seven authors while also highlighting the work of other artists—who were inspired by the seven—by offering talks, performances, and exhibitions, and by periodically commissioning new works. Aesthetic theory, the theological imagination, and related topics will also be explored through talks and seminars.
The inaugural event for the Muriel Fuller Endowment for the Imagination and the Arts will be held during the 2018-19 academic year.
Publication Announcement: The Messiah Comes to Middle-earth by Dr. Philip G. Ryken
Now published: Wheaton College President Dr. Philip G. Ryken’s book The Messiah Comes to Middle-earth, containing content from the 2015-2016 Hansen Lectureship. In the book, readers discover that they too can learn much through Tolkien's imaginative storytelling. Through the characters of Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn, Ryken points us toward Christ as we consider his prophetic, priestly, and royal roles.
Copies are available for sale at the Wade Center or via InterVarsity Press Academic.
The University of Leeds, in collaboration with SUNY Cortland and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, has developed a curriculum utilizing C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and looking at whether study of the books can help improve students’ character. The curriculum is aimed at 9-13 year olds, and there are 6-12 weeks’ worth of activities for each novel, based on two to four hours per week. Participating schools will receive free PDF documents containing the curriculum materials, as well as updates and ideas via email and social media. More details in the links below.
Study Guide: Learning from the Spiritual Pilgrimage of C.S. Lewis
In this six-part video series, Lyle Dorsett shares what he learned about Lewis’s spiritual formation, including what factors were involved in shaping him into a mature and influential Christian. The video series was recorded at the 2016 C.S. Lewis Institute Summer Conference held at the Marion E. Wade Center.
This Study Guide is designed to facilitate and enhance use of the videos by small groups. It may also be used by individuals for personal study and reflection.
View & listen to recordings from our previous programming, and other Wade author-related content, on our Media Page and YouTube channel.
Let us know how we can best connect with you by signing up for Wade news and alerts. You may also use this form to update your address information.
Volume 33 (2016) has been released and is now available for purchase online! This volume includes a transcription of a previously unpublished letter by C.S. Lewis, as well as articles on Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis.
Learn more about the Wade Center and J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit.
Items for sale include DVD study guides for C.S. Lewis's works Mere Christianity by Dr. Chris Mitchell and The Screwtape Letters by Dr. Jerry Root. Also for sale are used books by or related to the Wade authors.