Kathy Amos, executive director or the Brenau University Learning and Leisure Institute, claps after a reading of one of Joy Davidman's poems during Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God: An Exploration of the Works of Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Kathy Amos, executive director or the Brenau University Learning and Leisure Institute, claps after a reading of one of Joy Davidman's poems during Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God: An Exploration of the Works of Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

C.S. Lewis and Wife Joy Davidman Works Discussed at Two-Day Summit

Mar. 27, 2017
Kristen Oliver

The lives and works of one of the most notable British authors and his influential poet wife were discussed Thursday and Friday, March 23-24, in a two-day program called “Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God: an Exploration of the Works of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis.”

The two-day symposium, hosted by Brenau University and Grace Episcopal Church, was made possible by Dr. Warren Jones, who recently donated a premier and complete collection of titles by and about C.S. Lewis in honor of his wife, Bobbie Jean Collins Jones, Brenau Women’s College graduate from the class of 1964.

Don W. King, professor of English at Montreat College and noted scholar of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman, speaks on a panel during Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God: An Exploration of the Works of Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Don W. King, professor of English at Montreat College and noted scholar of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Thursday’s events featured author Don W. King, English professor at Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina, and noted scholar of Lewis and Davidman. He has numerous published works on Lewis and the women who influenced him, including Davidman and poet Ruth Pitter.

“His latest books on Joy Davidman highlight more than 200 recently discovered, unpublished poems by her, in which he makes the case for the importance of her work and calls for more critical study among scholars of 20th century poetry, particularly American poetry by women,” said Benjamin Barton, collection development librarian. “I think that is a particularly great discussion for this month, being Women’s History Month.”

He joined Brenau English professors Sandra Brim and Winter Elliot for a panel discussion, then presented a lecture titled “A Naked Tree: Joy Davidman’s Love Sonnets to C.S. Lewis” in Brenau’s Hosch Theatre. He was joined onstage by playwright, actor and Brenau theater professor Gay Hammond, who presented readings of selected Davidman sonnets.

King said he was introduced to the works of Davidman after first studying and publishing works on Lewis.

“I realized I found myself spending a lot of time with the women in C.S. Lewis’ life,” King said. “So I decided to spend more time researching and working on a biography of Joy Davidman. The first thing I did was collect letters, and as I collected them, I became fascinated by her writing and by her.”

Brenau University Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dr. David Barnett speaks on the works of C.S. Lewis at Grace Episcopal Church during the symposium "Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God an Exploration of the Works of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis". (Scott Rogers for Brenau University)

Brenau University Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer David Barnett speaks on the works of C.S. Lewis at Grace Episcopal Church. (Scott Rogers for Brenau University)

The symposium continued Friday, March 24, at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville with a dinner and presentations on Lewis’ life and works. David Barnett, Brenau executive vice president and chief financial officer, Rev. Mike McCann of Grace Episcopal and Lakeview Academy, author Carl McColman, and Rev. Bruce Morgan of First Baptist Church in Griffin, Georgia, presented different aspects and views of Lewis’ works.

Barnett discussed Lewis’ early life and childhood while the ensuing speakers covered Lewis’ works and later life. While in seminary, Barnett studied Lewis and compared his works to those of another author, James Fowler, who followed a similar path from atheism to Christianity. He was impressed by the turnout for the symposium and said, “I thought it was well-received and went very, very well.”

“This is far beyond anything I originally envisioned,” said Jones, who recruited King to speak at Brenau. “I only proposed a lecture for Dr. King to come, but all these ideas grew out of it, and I am most pleased.”

For more information about “Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God: an Exploration of the Works of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis,” go to brenau.edu/loveletters/.

The C.S. Lewis Collection is always available in the Brenau Trustee Library. Call 770-534-6113 for more information or to make an appointment.

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6299 or +1-800-252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6100 or +1-800-252-5119 ext. 6100