By Amelia Consedine
Before millions were transported to a galaxy “a long time ago … and far, far away,” and before millions more found their way around Hogwarts via the Marauder’s Map, there was another land that drew fantasy lovers – Narnia.
And as Narnia prepares to welcome a new generation of fans (and many old ones) when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe comes to the big screen in December, its creator, C.S. Lewis is getting attention, too.
“Past Watchful Dragons: Fantasy and Faith in the World of CS Lewis” will be the focus of a Belmont conference Nov. 3-5 that will feature world-renowned speakers and musical guests.
“‘Past Watchful Dragons’ is an opportunity for Belmont University to bring together scholars, artists, students and interested readers from across the world to consider the many legacies of C.S. Lewis,” said Amy Sturgis, director of “Past Watchful Dragons” and visiting lecturer in interdisciplinary studies for Belmont.
Those legacies are myriad, as Lewis, an Irish native and Oxford scholar, was a widely known intellectual who contributed to literature, theology, apologetics, scholarship, popular culture, myth, and imagination.
This conference will feature speakers such as Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis and consultant to the forthcoming Walden Media/Disney film version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Christopher Mitchell, director of the Marion E. Wade Center and assistant professor of theology at Wheaton College; Bruce Edwards, noted Lewis scholar, associate dean and professor of English at Bowling Green State University; and David Payne, actor and president of Rising Image Productions, specializing in dramatizations of the works of C.S. Lewis.
“Belmont University is an institution that emphasizes and excels in the studies of literature, art, faith and entertainment, and thus it is the ideal place to welcome guests of world renown and to create a community of interested attendees for a timely and exciting event such as ‘Past Watchful Dragons,’” Sturgis said.
This event will also include musical performances from Glass Hammer, Salem Hill and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, which will perform music composed by Howard Shore for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.
Glass Hammer, currently based out of Chattanooga, has composed several albums based on the works for JRR Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings creator and a contemporary and friend of Lewis. Their album, titled Shadowlands, is based on writings of Lewis. They will headline an afternoon performance that will open with Salem Hill, another Lewis-inspired band composed entirely of Belmont graduates.
Highlights of the conference schedule a Thursday night banquet with keynote speaker Douglas Gresham, An Evening With C.S. Lewis, a performance by David Payne and music performances Saturday afternoon by Glass Hammer and Saturday evening with Nashville Symphony.
The event is already getting worldwide attention. After being promoted in New York City at a large event, people from as far as Europe began to show interest and have already registered, Sturgis said.