Seeking the Discarded Image: The Heavens (a mini-class by Kelly Cumbee)
Note: This class is completed, but you may work through the course at your own pace. After you purchase the class, you will receive a link to the virtual classroom.
Instructor: Kelly Cumbee
C.S. Lewis says it is “worth while to spend some labour on ‘putting ourselves back’ into the universe which our ancestors believed themselves to inhabit. What their work means to us after we have done so appears to me not only more accurate (more like what they intended) but also more interesting and nourishing and delightful.”
A key element to entering Medieval and Renaissance literature in this way is understanding their model of the cosmos—when they talk about “the heavens,” and they talk about it a LOT, they do not mean what we mean by the word “space.” The modern meaning of “space” does not exist in medieval literature because, as Lewis says, “the thing meant did not exist for the human mind. The drama of existence was not performed against any such forbidding backcloth. There was no abyss. Man looked up at a patterned, populous, intricate, finite cosmos; a builded thing, not a wilderness; ‘heaven’ or ‘spheres,’ not ‘space.’ ” As we seek to recover an understanding of medieval cosmology in order to increase our ability to enter into and delight in Medieval and Renaissance literature and their modern descendants, we often don’t know what we’re looking for.
In the first class, Kelly Cumbee will map out the celestial spheres and what they meant to the medieval imagination, and will walk you through them using Dante’s Paradise as a guide. In the second and third classes, we will read togther Lewis’s Prince Caspian and Shakespeare’s Macbeth in order to see how those works embody medieval cosmology.
This course is envisioned as part of a series on mini-classes on Medieval Cosmology.
This is a three-session class.
LIVE OR LATER (All sessions are recorded)
Cost: $45 (includes lifetime access to recordings)
Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
Macbeth by Shakespeare