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C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication

Steven A. Beebe

C. S. Lewis, based on the popularity of his books and essays, is one of the best communicators of the twentieth century. During his lifetime he was hailed for his talents as author, speaker, educator, and broadcaster; he continues to be a best-selling author more than a half-century after his death.

C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication analyzes Lewis’s communication skill. A comprehensive review of Lewis’s work reveals five communication principles that explain his success as a communicator. Based on Lewis’s own advice about communication in his books, essays, and letters, as well as his communication practice, being a skilled communicator is to be holistic, intentional, transpositional, evocative, and audience-centered. These five principles are memorably summarized by the acronym HI TEA. Dr. Steven Beebe, past president of the National Communication Association and an internationally-recognized communication author and educator, uses Lewis’s own words to examine these five principles in a most engaging style.

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1 The Case for C. S. Lewis as Master Communicator



“I have an idea of what is good and bad language … Language is an instrument of communication. The language which can with the greatest ease make the finest and most numerous distinctions of meaning is best.”1

- C. S. Lewis

“Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use.”2

- C. S. Lewis

One of the first things I give my students when I teach my course, “C. S. Lewis: Chronicles of a Master Communicator,” is the final examination; it appears on the last page of the syllabus. I realize that it is unusual to give the students the final exam questions early, especially on the first day of class. But giving students their final exam on day one helps them know what to look for as they begin to examine Lewis as communicator. (Education, I believe, should not be a game of “Guess what I want you to learn,” but rather, a guided conversation with clear goals and objectives.) The final exam consists of two questions that form the overarching goals of the course:

1. What communication principles did C. S. Lewis discuss, either implicitly or explicitly, in his works?

2. What techniques of effective communication did Lewis use in his writing and speaking that contributed to his success as an author and speaker?

Underlying these two questions is a claim that informs the premise of this book: C....

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