Capturing Audiences

C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication by Steven Beebe

In 2002, while on sabbatical in Oxford, Steven Beebe, an internationally recognized communication educator and former president of the National Communication Association, discovered a partial and unpublished manuscript that C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien had collaborated on, titled Language and Human Nature. Beebe dug into it, and the more he dug, the more he realized that while Lewis never referred to himself as an expert in communication, he should be considered such and that a book making such a claim was justified.

C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication not only positions Lewis as a master communicator but also suggests that his integration of rhetoric and poetics predates that of one of the greatest rhetoricians of the twentieth century, Kenneth Burke. Lewis once confessed to his father that he was a born rhetorician. He wrote to him as a young man saying, “I love to ride like a cork on the ocean of eloquence.” Later, Lewis would declare in The Discarded Image, “There is no antithesis, indeed no distinction, between Rhetoric and Poetry.”

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Arthur W. Hunt III is a former professor of public speaking at the University of Tennesse at Martin. He is now preparing to transition to ministry-related service and lives in the greater Memphis area.

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