Linda Kern presents at a roundtable in Oxford, England.
Brenau University Dean of Library Services Linda Kern speaks at a roundtable discussion at Oxford University's St Catherine's College as part of the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute in Oxford, England, on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Ed Nix/For Brenau University)

Brenau dean of library services presents paper at C.S. Lewis Summer Institute 2022

Aug 9, 2022
Alyson Shields
Linda Kern during her presentation at Oxford University.
Brenau University Dean of Library Services Linda Kern presented during a roundtable as part of the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute in Oxford, England, on Friday, July 29. (Ed Nix/For Brenau University)

Linda Kern, Brenau University’s dean of library services, was among over a dozen presenters from around the world at the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute at Oxford University in Oxford, England, from July 28–Aug. 5. 

Kern was initially selected to present her paper at the 2020 conference, which was postponed until this summer. She resubmitted her revised abstract and was again chosen to participate. The theme of the conference is Surprised by Love: Cultivating Intellectual Hospitality in an Age of Uncertainty. Kern’s paper is titled An Experiment: Exploring C.S. Lewis’s Experiment in Criticism as a Lens to Inform the Association of College and Research Libraries Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. In it, she explores the intersection of intellectual hospitality, the theoretical framework for information literacy, and Lewis’ philosophy of literary criticism as described in his book An Experiment in Criticism.

“Intellectual hospitality is at the core of librarianship and is embodied in three of the six principles of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, most strongly in the idea that scholarship is a conversation,” Kern said. “Lewis’s prescient Experiment focuses light on the path to removing our personal biases from an intellectual conversation and opening ourselves to the knowledge and insight of others while sharpening our own.”

The Brenau University Trustee Library — where Kern served as head of research and instructional services for more than 12 years before becoming dean in 2018 — has a collection of Lewis’ work. The collection was presented in honor of Bobbie Jean Collins Jones, WC ’64, by her husband. The collection features over 100 titles including science fiction and fantasy, children’s literature, philosophy, theology and Christian apologetics, essays and literary criticism, as well as titles about Lewis and media performances of his work. Brenau also previously hosted a two-day summit in 2017 exploring the works of the British author and his wife, poet Joy Davidman.

People listening to the roundtable discussion at Oxford University.
Audience members listen to Brenau University Dean of Library Services Linda Kern’s presentation during a roundtable discussion as part of the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute in Oxford, England. (Ed Nix/For Brenau University)

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jim Eck said that faculty research is a key part of cultivating the university’s success.

“It is a true honor for Dean Kern to present the Academic Round Table at the C.S. Lewis conference in Oxford,” Eck said. “She has distinguished herself in many ways at Brenau, and this is just the most recent example of her enduring commitment to scholarly achievement.”

Faculty research like Kern’s is also beneficial to Brenau’s students. Kern, who also teaches library research courses, said students bring differing perspectives to campus, which sometimes can generate disagreements.

“Learning to negotiate conflict in educational spaces requires the creation of an environment permitting communication without fear, which values the other’s perspective and context,” Kern said.

Kern said it also relates to the Brenau Ideal, especially the lines “love deeply, fear nothing, hate never; to enjoy that freedom which comes from knowledge of the ‘Truth.’”

“One of the ways we can do this is by practicing intellectual hospitality — faculty and staff engaging with hospitality, modeling it for our students, and teaching our students to be open to respectfully receive the ideas of others,” Kern said. “My hope is that practical classroom outcomes will grow out of this research.”