Colloquium on Violence and Religion Annual Meeting
St. Louis University
What might the authors known as the Oxford Inklings (J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield) have thought about René Girard’s mimetic theory, if they had had a chance to encounter it? All are among the most prominent Christian literary thinkers of the past century, but in the case of the topic of myth, one that is important to all of them, they take what seem like opposite views. This talk begins with the criticisms the Inklings might have of the anthropological orientation of mimetic theory because of their interest in lively representations of the supernatural. It then goes on to find common ground between them, beginning with their commitment to the Bible as a key to understanding history and human reality. In their understanding of myth, for instance, Girard and the Inklings can be seen as exploring the same view of human reality from opposite sides, the natural and the supernatural. The strongest connection is between Barfield’s understanding of what he called the evolution of consciousness and Girard’s understanding of hominization and the development of scientific thinking. Together, imagined conversation among these four thinkers opens promising avenues for responding to common Christian objections to mimetic theory and thinking about a more robust Christian metaphysics that would support and extend it.
Repository citation: Gruenler, Curtis, "Mimetic Theory Meets the Oxford Inklings: Girard, Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, and Barfield" (2015). Faculty Presentations. Paper 181.
July 9, 2015.