Literary Apologetics Course Descriptions
8 out of the 16 courses required for completion of the literary apologetics certificate are regular offerings by the apologetics academy. The other 8 courses are designed with literary apologetics in mind and are listed below. This list is subject to revision.
Principles of Literary Apologetics
Suitable for both Christian writers and Christian apologists, this course delves deeper into 20th century Christian authors that remain influential today because of their nonfiction and fiction. Just why do these authors have an enduring impact? What was their secret?
The course participant will grapple with what the following authors thought about ‘literary apologetics': C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, G. K. Chesterton, and Flannery O’Connor. Each week will explore that particular author’s thinking and an example of their fiction where that thinking was manifested.
The course will put forward this challenge to both writers and apologists: given the effectiveness and enduring impact of these authors, shouldn’t we more deliberately consider adopting their vision, perspective, and approach?
The fiction of Sayers, and Chesterton, and Williams
This course focuses on the novels of Dorothy Sayers, GK Chesterton, and Charles Williams. The emphasis is on examining the way in which these authors used ‘realistic’ settings and characters to explore important themes and present Christian truth without explicitly Christian elements in the novels. Core texts will include Sayers’ The Nine Tailors, Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, and Williams’ Descent into Hell.
Studies in Myth (Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald)
This course focuses on the novels of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and George MacDonald. The emphasis is on the way in which these authors used ‘myth’ and fantasy to present Christian truth. We will explore the idea of myth as truth, and examine the way that these authors used fantasy to present Christian ideas. Core texts will include Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Till We Have Faces, JRR Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” and/or The Lord of the Rings, and George MacDonald’s Phantastes.
Studies in Poetry (Shakespeare, Marlowe’s Faustus, Donne, Herbert, Eliot)
This course focuses on classic poetry and poetic drama, looking at earlier authors to challenge our assumptions and habits about what it means to write literary apologetics. We will look at the way William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe use poetic drama to directly confront issues of sin and damnation, in Macbeth and Faustus, respectively. We will then look at the way the poets John Donne and George Herbert explore the Christian life from within, with poetry that touches on conversion, repentance, doubt, and faith. Finally, we will conclude with a 20th century poet who moved from atheism to Christian faith as an adult, with specific attention to Four Quartets and selected other poems. The core text will be Malcolm Guite’s Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination (forthcoming in paperback).
What does it take to make a story or poem truly engaging? What makes the work of great storytellers like CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and GK Chesterton so captivating? They all had a deep mastery of language and style on top of all their other storytelling gifts. In this class, we will do hands-on work on “wordsmithing”: attending to the fine details of sentence crafting and word choice to take your work to the next level.
Participants will learn strategies for choosing exactly the right word; for trimming unnecessary verbiage to allow the beauty of the idea to shine through clearly; and for shaping sentences to create “flow” to draw the reader into a sustained reading experience. We will study the prose style of CS Lewis and others, and apply those insights to work in progress: this is a writing workshop style class and is a core requirement for the Literary Apologetics Certificate.
Writing for Publication
You’ve got a manuscript, now how do you get it published? This course is in part a ‘cap stone’ project that will work with the participant to learn how to prepare a manuscript for publication, understand opportunities and limitations to various publishing avenues, and other practical and pragmatic aspects involved in turning theoretical cultural impact into a reality. This course is subject to revision.
Emulating the Greats
More Electives forthcoming