Over at Transpositions guest authors are offering their Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis Book Review: Introduction. Of particular interest to me is an analysis of Lewis as literary critic, as his scholarship colored his philosophy of education. Lewis offers a countercultural, metaphysical understanding of literature which goes against modern interpretations of the function of literature. The more I read into this, the more I recognize the stark contrast of his understanding to contemporary scholars. In my role as a teacher of British Literature, I find Lewis is, quite frankly, both an illumination and a a relief, though I must put in more study in order to articulate this countercultural relevance. To wit: I am required to lay down a curriculum of literature which endeavours to create an appreciation of literature of the past and form a culturally literate student body. When my seniors graduate, they then enter an undergraduate realm where this cultural literacy is undermined and slowly torn down. Critical thinking and appreciation gives way to political manipulation and a theoretical watering down of literature to the point where the question is less “What is literature?’ to “What?” The underpinnings of a purposeless posit of literature gives way to a purposeless study of literature.
This is an uncharitable, broad brush stroke on a perceived divide between secondary and undergraduate education, but I really think Lewis’ ideas hold some key to this. More later, but in the meantime, enjoy the erudite minds of Transpositions.