Pacific Inklings Festival

The Southern California C.S. Lewis Society Presents:

The Pacific Inklings Festival
and General Meeting

Saturday, March 9th, 9:00am–3:00pm
Heath Building 100 & The Great Commission Hall
Vanguard University
55 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA

Featured Speaker:
Sørina Higgins
Editor of The Inklings and King Arthur
Keynote Address: “The Inklings Among Other Arthurs”

Other speakers will explore the Inklings
Merchants of Rare & Exotic Wares will be present 

$5 Admission at the door
Free with student ID
Cosplay is encouraged!

PIF poster

Call For Papers:

In addition to a keynote speech, awards presentations, cosplay, vendors, and festive fellowship, the Pacific Inklings Festival would like to offer its attendees a few select talks by noteworthy Inklings scholars. Therefore, we invite submission of proposals for 5-page papers on the following topics. Please bear in mind that the selection process will be rigorous, as only a few papers will be chosen.

Suggested topics:

  • The Inklings Among Other Moderns: How were Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, Barfield et al engaged in literary dialogue with their “modernist” contemporaries?
  • Bright Drops of Spilled Religion: The Inklings and Romanticism. In what ways did these writers reinvent Romanticism for their own age?
  • Inklings in the Digital Age. How are the works of these writers continuing to survive and thrive as they are adapted into the age of the internet, VR, video games, film franchises, and choose-your-own-adventure TV series?

Please send your proposal to drjimprothero@gmail.com by Feb. 14th, 2019.

Invitation to Vendors:

If you would like to sell your Inklings-related books, art, music, merchandise, etc., at the Pacific Inklings Festival, please contact drjimprothero@gmail.com to make arrangements.

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Sørina Higgins about Charles Williams

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The Inklings and Arthur wins the Mythopoeic Award!

mythoI am utterly astonished and delighted to announce that The Inklings and King Arthur has won the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies! This is a prestigious award that “is given to books on Tolkien, Lewis, and/or Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship.” Congratulations to all of my chapter-writers for their amazing work. I am happy to see how this book seems to be opening paths in Inklings scholarship, and I hope that continues.

I would like to acknowledge the other nominees for this year. They were:

  • Chance, Jane, Tolkien, Self and other: This Queer Creature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • Coutras, Lisa, Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • Flieger, Verlyn, There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale: More Essays on Tolkien (Kent State University Press, 2017)
  • Tolkien, Christopher, ed., Beren and Luthien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

And previous winners are a Who’s Who in Inklings Studies; they have included Philip and Carol Zaleski, Grevel Lindop, Verlyn Flieger, Michael Ward, Dimitra Fimi, Diana Pavlac Glyer, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, Janet Brennan Croft, John Garth, Michael D. C. Drout, Tom Shippey, Walter Hooper, David C. Downing, Peter J. Schakel and Charles A. Huttar, Douglas A. Anderson, Christopher Tolkien, Glen Cavaliero, Peter J. Schakel, Paul Ford, Humphrey Carpenter, Roger Lancelyn Green, Kathryn Lindskoog, and Clyde Kilby. You can read a complete list of previous winners here. Mighty company indeed!

Here are my acceptance remarks, which were read for me at Mythcon 49:

The word “mythopoeia,” after which this illustrious society was named, evokes a flash of longing in me. It inspires sehnsucht: a yearning for the long-ago and far-away, for the Classical pantheon or Norse heroism, for Romantic landscapes or glimpses of the divine. At the heart of the vast Arthurian legendarium are tales of longing: questing for the Holy Grail, for love, and for true kingship. And there is a kind of sehnsucht or endless deferral in the making of any book: before it, come the hundreds and thousands of books that raised the questions it seeks to answer, but its very answers raise other questions that must be answered in other books, and so on forever. This is especially true of works of literary scholarship, and most definitely is the case with The Inklings and King Arthur. The contributors and I make but one small fellowship in the great company of writers on Arthuriana and on the Inklings, and we are honored to join this prestigious list of so many mentors, role models, sources, colleagues, and friends.

I would like to thank first of all the nominating committee of the Mythopoeic Society for granting this important award to our book. I would also, of course, like to call attention to all of the writers in this book; I believe this is only the fourth time that an edited collection has been the recipient, and all twenty-one authors deserve the credit! Of course, many others were involved in the creation of such a sizable project, and thanks belong to the staff of libraries and archives where we researched, readers who contributed comments and corrections, contributors to the GoFundMe campaign, and friends and colleagues most numerous. As I say in the book: May all these wise and kind people receive passage from the Grey Havens to the port of their heart’s desire.

~ Sørina Higgins

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‘The Chapel of the Thorn’ by Charles Williams {BookTalk}

Here is a vivid, enthusiastic review of “The Chapel of the Thorn.” Enjoy!

A Tolkienist's Perspective

BookTalk is a new series of blog posts, where I discuss non-Tolkien books in concise and honest reviews. Read on dear reader …

_______________________________________________________________________________

The Chapel of the Thorn (cover).png

Having focused my reading habits on the works of Tolkien and Lewis for years now, not to mention acquiring a book or two about the Inklings, I thought it was the right time to dip into some of the works by other members of that literary group.

And what better way to do this than by exploring the somewhat obscure figure of Charles Williams himself?

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Inklings & Arthur photo contest at Mythcon 49!

mythoSo you’re attending Mythcon 49? You’re giving a paper, enjoying talks by the special guests, sporting a fabulous costume at the masquerade, sharing readings and music at the Bardic Circle, playing a late-night game of Golfimbul, watching a performance by the Not-Ready-For-Mythcon Players, soaking up the unforgettable conversations — and of course, admiring copies of The Inklings and King Arthur with its beautiful cover by Emily Austin. There may be swords. There will probably be knights in some kind of cosplay armor. There may even be a Holy Grail. While you’re there, you have a chance to win a signed copy of The Inklings and King Arthur! I am giving away one signed copy of I & A to whomever takes the most clever, creative photo of the book. Here’s the deal: 

  • Get a hold of a copy (legally and kindly!); there will be copies floating around. You can probably borrow one.
  • Take a photo of the book in some cool setting, maybe with a clever visual pun, with or without people, whatever your imagination can dream up.
  • Get permission of any people who appear in the photo for you to use it for this purpose.
  • Post the photo on social media with the hashtag #InklingsAndArthur. If you want, you can tag me, too (@SorinaHiggins). By doing so, you’re giving me permission to re-use it on all my social media channels, websites, and anywhere else I may want to use it for promotion.
  • Please submit only high-quality photos with good lighting and reasonable resolution. Needless to say, keep it decent, appropriate, in good taste, etc.
  • The photo must be taken at Mythcon 49 between July 20th and July 23rd.
  • I will pick out the best photograph based on which I think is the most clever, creative, unusual, cool, etc. I reserve the right to open voting to the public if I think that’s a good idea.
  • 30463274482_90aff8a230_bNote that the prize will go to the photographer of the best picture, not to any subject(s) who may appear in the picture.
  • The winner agrees to provide a domestic U.S. mailing address where I can ship the prize copy (the price of overseas shipping is prohibitive for me).

So have fun! Learn a lot, share a lot, and snap a lot of pictures. I look forward to seeing what beauties you can dream up that involve this lovely book.

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Mythmoot Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to Tom Hillman, @alas_not_me, for winning first prize for cleverest photo of The Inklings and King Arthur at Mythmoot V! This photo took about four days to set up, because he had to wait until it stopped raining and take the photo with his sword outside the National Conference Center, since bladed weapons are not allowed indoors (Masquerade Ball pics notwithstanding, ahem, ahem). Here is the glorious photo for your enjoyment: 

Tom h

“Whoso pulleth out this sword of this tome and volume is rightwise king born of all Mythmoot.”

And a proud second place goes to Joe Hoffman, aka Calvus Virginicus, @virginicus, for sheer volume of scintillating wit. Enjoy this series of puns, homophones, and general fun!

formal

Proving I studied Formalism with @SorinaHiggins

harrow

The Inklings and Arthur …. Arthur Harrow. 

dent

The Inklings and Arthur, Dent

mina

The Inklings and King Arthur and Mina Harker

harkers

The Inklings and King Arthur and the Harkers

twinklings

The Twinklings and King Arthur

drinklings

The Drinklings and King Arthur

Now, don’t you wish you had been at Mythmoot? Don’t you need to rush out and get a copy of The Inklings and King Arthur? 😉

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The Inklings and King Arthur: Selfies and News

What could be better than a smart scholar’s #InklingsAndArthur selfies? A smart scholar’s #InklingsAndArthur selfies at the Marion W. Wade Center, aka, Narnia Near Chicago! Check this out.

A Pilgrim in Narnia

Since the first call for chapters for The Inklings and King Arthur, this not-so-little book has been on its own adventure. Conference panels, keynote talks, digital round-table discussions, and crowd-sourced funding were all part of a long editorial and publication journey, shepherded all the way by editor Sørina Higgins. The result is a rigorous examination of the theological, literary, historical, and linguistic implications of the Arthurian writings of all the major Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. I was pleased to provide one of the chapters, where I used the opportunity to test out some theory stuff I am working on. Specifically, I wrote about how Lewis brings various fictional worlds together in That Hideous Strength (Lewis’ only overt Arthurian novel, and one of the few Inklings pieces of Arthurian fiction to be published when it was written).

While it is not a great…

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Inklings & Arthur photo contest at Mythmoot V!

mythmoot-v-argonathSo you’re attending Mythmoot V: Fantastic Frontiers? You’re giving a paper, enjoying talks by the special guests, sporting your fabulous costume, dancing the night away at the masquerade ball, graduating or cheering the graduates, soaking up the unforgettable conversations — and of course, admiring copies of The Inklings and King Arthur with its beautiful cover by Emily Austin. There will be swords. There will probably be knights in some kind of cosplay armor. There may even be a Holy Grail. While you’re there, you have a chance to win a signed copy of The Inklings and King Arthur! I am giving away one signed copy of I & A to whomever takes the most clever, creative photo of the book. Here’s the deal: 

  • Get a hold of a copy (legally and kindly!); there will be copies for sale at the conference, and several people will be bringing theirs. You can probably borrow one.
  • Take a photo of the book in some cool setting, maybe with a clever visual pun, with or without people, whatever your imagination can dream up.
  • Get permission of any people who appear in the photo for you to use it for this purpose.
  • Post the photo on social media with the hashtag #InklingsAndArthur. If you want, you can tag me, too (@SorinaHiggins). By doing so, you’re giving me permission to re-use it on all my social media channels, websites, and anywhere else I may want to use it for promotion.
  • Please submit only high-quality photos with good lighting and reasonable resolution. Needless to say, keep it decent, appropriate, in good taste, etc.
  • The photo must be taken at Mythmoot V between June 21st and June 24th.
  • I will pick out the best photograph based on which I think is the most clever, creative, unusual, cool, etc. I reserve the right to open voting to the public if I think that’s a good idea.
  • 30463274482_90aff8a230_bNote that the prize will go to the photographer of the best picture, not to any subject(s) who may appear in the picture.
  • The winner agrees to provide a domestic U.S. mailing address where I can ship the prize copy (the price of overseas shipping is prohibitive for me).

So have fun! Learn a lot, share a lot, and snap a lot of pictures. I look forward to seeing what beauties you can dream up that involve this lovely book.

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Inklings & Arthur Shortlisted for Mythopoeic Award

I am honored and delighted to announce that The Inklings and King Arthur has been shortlisted for the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies! This prize is given to books on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and/or Charles Williams that makes significant contributions to Inklings scholarship. I am pleased that all the hard, forward-thinking work of my chapter-writers in this book has been acknowledged and appreciated. We are also in illustrious company; the other nominees are:

  • mythoChance, Jane, Tolkien, Self and other: This Queer Creature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • Coutras, Lisa, Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • Flieger, Verlyn, There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale: More Essays on Tolkien (Kent State University Press, 2017)
  • Tolkien, Christopher, ed., Beren and Luthien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

You might also like to look over the list of previous nominees and winners, as it provides a kind of Who’s Who of Inklings studies and a handy picture of the evolution of the field.

The winners of this year’s awards will be announced during Mythcon 49, to be held July 20-23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Are you going to Mythcon this year?

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“Rather a Pleasant Notion”: Humor in Charles Williams’s War in Heaven

Over here on TOI, it’s all guest posts, all the time — at least until I get through the end of this semester of grad school. It’s a tough life, folks. But I’m enjoying the work I get to do on medieval writers, modernist playwrights, ritual, magic, metatheatre…. It’s all fun. But back to Charles Williams for a moment. Here I’m happy to offer you a fun, light-hearted, insightful guest post by John Stanifer. Enjoy! 

“Rather a Pleasant Notion”: Humor in Charles Williams’s War in Heaven
by John Stanifer 

WiHUntil last week, I only knew the work of Charles Williams secondhand. I had a sense that he was indeed “the oddest Inkling,” an intriguing (and occasionally disturbing) figure in the biographies I’d read of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and the Inklings as a group.

I knew he had worked at Oxford University Press for much of his life. I knew he had passed just months before the end of World War II. I knew Lewis had considered him a great friend, even a spiritual mentor.csl cw

I also had read bits and pieces about his interest in the occult, and thanks to Sørina Higgins’s presentation at the 2016 Ewbank Colloquium, I knew he had some bizarre (to put it politely) ideas involving women’s bodies and spiritual enlightenment.

To put it bluntly, my impression of Williams as a writer was that he was weird, and at least to an average twenty-first century reader (i.e. a non-specialist), difficult, even inaccessible.

But after reading The Inklings & King Arthur, I finally felt the urge to experience C.W. firsthand. Maybe, just maybe, what I’d learned about his work in those essays would be enough to push me through at least one book by this “difficult” writer.

So I started with War in Heaven, and there were two things about it that shocked me right away:

funny– C.W. is surprisingly readable
War in Heaven is hilarious*

(*At the beginning, anyway—more on that in a minute)

“Hilarious” probably isn’t the first word that springs to mind when most people think of Charles Williams, but I was laughing within the first two pages.

Take this early sentence, for instance:

“That dead bodies did not usually lie round in one of the rooms of a publisher’s offices in London about half-past two in the afternoon was a certainty that formed now an enormous and cynical background to the fantastic possibility” (8).

I mean, everyone knows that dead bodies only show up at half-past six, right? And then there’s that qualifier “usually,” as if this has happened just often enough in the past to justify that bit of uncertainty.

oupAnd then there’s C.W. setting all of this in a publisher’s offices. Maybe it’s just me, but knowing that C.W. spent so many hours of his working life in just such a setting made it funnier.

I guess I have a dark sense of humor.

A few paragraphs after the body is first discovered, the reader is witness to an argument between multiple characters over whether the body is actually dead.

At first, our protagonist Lionel thinks it’s merely a workman who has entered his office without prior notice to fiddle with the telephone. Lionel is offended that the man refuses to answer him after several attempts to get his attention.

Once the reality of the death finally starts to dawn on everyone, Lionel’s colleague, Mornington, quips:

“How fortunate . . . if he were alive and had got under your table and wouldn’t take any notice I should be afraid you’d annoyed him somehow. I think that’s rather a pleasant notion . . . a sort of modern King’s Threshold—get under the table of the man who’s insulted you and simply sulk there” (8-9, emphasis mine).

I might try this the next time I’m annoyed by a coworker or a student (or not).

lionIt’s worth noting that all of this banter is going on while the characters are still in close proximity to the body of a person who has just been murdered by strangling. Do we chalk this conversation up to callousness in the presence of death, or is it an attempt to diffuse the feelings of horror and despair that might otherwise overwhelm them if they didn’t try to lighten the mood somehow? I don’t know, but this whole scene struck me as more than a little humorous.

Yes, the plot gets much more serious later on, but I’d argue that only demonstrates Williams’s admirable ability to switch in and out of different tones without losing the power of the story.

We still see flashes of his gift for humor every so often, like this gem of an exchange in Chapter 5:

“If he left at half-past two, that’s all I want to know,” the inspector said. “Did you happen to mention to anyone that he was coming?”

“Yes,” said Sir Giles, “I told the Prime Minister, the Professor of Comparative Etymology at King’s College, and the cook downstairs” (58).

How very specific.

I know I shouldn’t let it surprise me that much. After all, this isn’t the first time in my life as a reader that I’ve built up assumptions about a particular author or body of literary work, and the assumptions were finally exploded (or at least put into perspective) by firsthand experience.

Just ask me about my firsthand experience of Harry Potter, two years after the final book came out. How differently I see that series now from when I first heard of how “dangerous” it was to unwary youngsters.

Do I still think Charles Williams is a weird writer? There were certainly passages I read in War in Heaven that seemed to confirm at least some of my impressions (I could have done without the image of Persimmons lying naked on his bed all night after rubbing the magic ointment on pretty much every crevice of his body).

And yet, it’s amazing how much one’s attitude can change after that first direct exposure to an author’s work.

So count me the newest fan of C.W.’s work . . .

. . . even if I still find myself with raised eyebrows at some of the juicier details one finds in his biography.

Who knew the presence of a dead body in a publisher’s offices could be so entertaining?john s

Williams, Charles. War in Heaven. Eerdmans, 1974.

 

John Stanifer has an M.A. in English from Morehead State University. He is a tutor and library assistant at Ivy Tech Community College and is also the author of Virtuous Worlds: The Video Gamer’s Guide to Spiritual Truth (Norwalk: Winged Lion Press, 2011).

 

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