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EH 32 Through the Wardrobe Door:
The Fantasy and Science Fiction of C. S. Lewis
Plan to write for 1-2 hours on each exam. This time is for the actual writing. You would do well to spend additional time beforehand creating an outline or a plan for your essay. You may use Lewis's books for these exams, but you may not use your class notes. Expect to write at least 1000 words. You may write by hand in a blue book or you may write with a wordprocessor. If you use a computer, be sure to staple the pages of your essay together.
Given and audience of mid-twentieth-century British children, how might Lewis's version of the redemption myth in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe be more effective than the New Testament account? Remember that, since you will be contrasting two versions of one story, you need to discuss similarities and differences between the two. Organize your material with a clear sense of purpose, and constantly remind yourself that you are writing an essay rather than answering a question. In other words, don't put down thoughts as they come to you but rather make a case, as Lewis does in his essays. It may be useful, as you plan your essay, to think of the ways in which Mere Christianity is designed for adults as you think of the ways in which the novel is designed for children.
Christians, including C.S. Lewis, consider pride to be the deadliest of sins. The Old Testament accounts of Satan's fall as well as Adam and Eve's fall suggest that pride was the core issue ("I would be like the Most High," and "we would be as gods, knowing good and evil"). These characters are all adults, however, and their situations are far from the experience of most 20th-century children. In this second essay exam you will trace the manifestations of pride in all of the human children in the first three Chronicles of Narnia. These, of course, include Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Eustace, and Caspian. Plan your essay with a point in mind and with an organization that illustrates that point. Remember that some of the children show little pride while others show quite a bit, and remember that pride manifests itself in different ways. In other words, an essay divided into separate sections for each character is not going to be an effective one. Your conclusion (which should draw conclusions, not summarize the previous paragraphs) ought to have something to do with what Aslan says to Lucy and Edmund at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader about why they were introduced to Narnia. Readers are introduced to Narnia, too. What parallels might Lewis have envisioned between the children in the books and the children who would read them?
This should be a substantial essay that will take an hour or more to organize and as much as two hours to write, so plan ahead. Feel free to pick the brains of the other members of your group not only about the details from the novels that would be most useful but also about the effectiveness of the possible organization of your essay. The Honor Code requires you to write and edit the essay by yourself, but good academic writing always grows out of conversations between writers and their peers. Discussions about both the form and the content of essays are, therefore, not only helpful but also honorable.
What has been the most academically meaningful aspect of this Interim project to you and why? Write an essay in which you discuss a new approach to a familiar text, a new text on a familiar topic, a group presentation or discussion, a lecture, a writing experience, or some other academic activity that you found meaningful in the past three weeks. In this essay you will have to use first-person pronouns, and you will have to offer some background about yourself in order to explain the "why" part. Remember always, however, that the subject must be academic: in other words, your focus should be not on what this project has reinforced in you but what it has introduced you to in terms of literary study. If it helps, I recommend following an essay structure that I often assign to my classes: the "what, how, why" essay. The "what" part is the meaningful aspect of the course. The "how" part is the method or the vehicle by which this aspect of the project became meaningful. The "why" part is those particular things about you that made you interested, appreciative, or receptive. Think of the "what" part as your introduction, the "how" part as your body paragraphs, and the "why" part as your conclusion -- a conclusion that consists of several paragraphs.
Remember that, as your primary audience, I may be familiar with the material of the course but I do not know much if anything about you personally outside of what I have seen and heard in class. Imagine a wider audience than me, however (do not write this as a letter to me) --- perhaps the student body reading your paper as a feature article in the Hilltop News. You cannot count on your audience to know what you mean if you do not give specific examples in both the "how" and "why" parts.
John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College, firstname.lastname@example.org