Course Description

Course Number


Course Name

Seeking Paradise: From Modern Fantasy to the Classics


Course Credits



Philip Pullman to Milton and back to C.S Lewis The course will begin with reading and discussing His Dark Materials (the trilogy that includes The Golden Compass) by Philip Pullman. Through reading this exciting but complex fantasy students will begin an examination of the ideas and narrative structures that Pullman uses to expand on and develop his sources, which among others include Paradise Lost, the poetry and paintings of William Blake and The Bible. Students will then read and examine excerpts from these sources and read about their use in His Dark Materials. The final section of the course will compare Pullman's work with that of fellow Oxford resident C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and look at the different ways the two authors use the same source material. With both authors' works having recently been filmed and turned into video games, the opportunity is here to look at the influences of elements of the literary canon on 21st century culture. Readings will include Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass). C.S. Lewis' The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and extracts from Prince Caspian and The Last Battle. Essays by Pullman and Lewis about their work and their ideas, particularly Pullman's humanistic atheism and Lewis' journey towards a personal Christianity. Extracts from Paradise Lost, William Blake and The Bible. Journal Articles and essays about Pullman and Lewis from literary critics, theologians, anthropologists and cultural critics.