Title

BOOKS TO FILMS: C. S. LEWIS’S WORLD OF NARNIA IN 21ST CENTURY AMERICA’S DIGITAL AGE

Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Advisor(s)

Elisabeth D. Lasch-Quinn

Keywords

American History, Books and Films, C. S. Lewis Scholar and Public Intellectual, History, Intellectual History, The Chronicles of Narnia

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

In 2005 and 2008, two stories from the second most globally successful set of novels were transferred from books to film: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. These two books from C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia were impacted by the Digital Age’s filmmaking advances with CGI which enabled filmmakers to portray realistically the world of Narnia on screen. C. S. Lewis as a scholar and a public intellectual imbued the Narnia stories with his thinking on courtesy and respect. These ideas about kindness and high regard were based on “the doctrine of objective value” that he discussed in his book The Abolition of Man and different essays. In addition, Lewis’s views on children, women, diversity, superiority, and animals appear in both books with Prince Caspian providing an added critique of empire and colonialism. In the transfer of Lewis’s stories from books to film, there was continuity and change as the same basic story remained, but some parts were presented differently. These changes tell scholars that while the stories continue to have an appeal as films, a culture’s perspective can have a great impact on the retelling of a novel. I argue that even with the amount of time that passed between the writing of two of The Chronicles of Narnia books and their transfer to film, the presence of C. S. Lewis’s thinking about courtesy and respect in both The Chronicles of Narnia books and films illustrates twenty-first century American culture’s ongoing engagement with his thought. Most notably, Lewis’s ideas about kindness and consideration could have been edited out, but they were not. Instead, they remained in a new form, providing another layer to the discussion of these issues in twenty-first century American history. These books to films reflect how to be courteous and respectful not just to those we like, but also to those we disagree with. In this way, they give us hope and insight while adding to our lives.

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