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Reader Series: The Inklings of Oxford: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Owen Barfield

Description: Wardrobes for writers! Hobbits for healers! Turns out, a twenty-first century American audience can mine much practical value from twentieth-century British fantasy fiction.

The Inklings, who counted among their ranks C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Owen Barfield, were a hugely influential and productive writing workshop. Together they created a sort of literary power plant, one that utilized myth, legend, theology, philosophy, and naturalism to create much of what we consider modern fantasy. Luckily for us, they showed their work.

This class will reframe the magical realms imagined by the Inklings of Oxford, such as Narnia and Middle Earth, by centering the philosophical magic and mysticism that form their architectures. With C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Owen Barfield as our jumping off point, we will trace the roots of this natural mysticism through a century of British "fantasy" literature. We will explore the Inkling realms through the prism of their varied philosophies and biographies. We will consider the genre as a healthy response to trauma, including the trauma of World War. We will explore individual techniques such as Lewis’s layered allegory, or Tolkien’s use of poetry as exposition. This class will pursue a lecture and discussion format with emphasis on the close reading of passages, and the writerly toolbox.

Instructor: Wes Roj is an experienced English Professor specializing in British Literature and Creative Nonfiction. Wes holds a Phd in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University, where he wrote his dissertation on Freudian uncanny in Creative Nonfiction. Wes is a firm believer in approaching twenty-first century problems via twentieth-century texts. He taught composition and creative writing across levels and genres for five years at OU, and three years at Notre Dame College. During covid, Wes stepped away from teaching so that he and his wife could realize their dream of opening a neighborhood toy shop. He lives in Cleveland Hts. with his wife and children.


Details: The Inklings of Oxford: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Owen Barfield takes place Thursdays October 12, 19, 26, and November 2, 9, and 16 from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm in person at the Literary Cleveland offices, 13002 Larchmere Blvd in Cleveland.

Genre: Reader Series - Fiction

Level: Intermediate

Format: Reader Series classes take you on a deep dive into specific topic or author to gain a more advanced understanding of literature and the world. Experienced instructors will provide history, context, and analysis, and guide in-depth discussion that will help make you an instant expert in a single subject or author's body of work.

Each participant can decide how they choose to engage with the classes. You can read the books ahead of time, read them as the class progresses, or read them after the class has concluded. No matter your level of prior knowledge, you will receive a wealth of materials and insights in a condensed period, like a master class or a great course, only right here in Cleveland.

Location: This class takes place in person at the Literary Cleveland offices, 13002 Larchmere Blvd, Cleveland OH 44120.

Size: Limited to 12 participants (including scholarships).

Scholarships: Two scholarship spots are available for this class for writers in Northeast Ohio. Apply by August 21.

Cancellations & Refunds: Cancel at least 48 hours in advance of the first class meeting to receive a full refund. Email


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