Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level





William Quinn

Committee Member

Joshua Smith

Second Committee Member

Mary Beth Long


Christian Literature, Inklings, C.S. Lewis, Medievalism, Medieval Literature, Science Fiction, Space Trilogy


C. S. Lewis has begun to garner more scholarly attention in the last few decades, but his first novels, his science fiction or Space trilogy, continue to be largely ignored by academia. Yet, these three novels are deserving of more serious study, as they are pioneering works of literary science fiction, and even more surprisingly, of literary medievalism. Though long derided as mere reactionary attacks on Modernism and science, when properly understood, these strange and wonderful tales actually reveal the complexity and nuance of Lewis’s response to his times. In them, the Inkling author creates a unique combination of the medieval and the modern, never merely repeating his medieval sources and inspirations and never merely rejecting the modern ideas and texts to which he was responding. Instead, he creates a hybrid, a blending of the two that is greater than the sum of its parts. This project explores the unique perspective that results from this blending, placing Lewis’s texts in the context of the science fiction of their day and revealing the revolutionary repurposing of many of the tropes of the genre along with the traditions of medieval literature and philosophy. It examines Lewis’s combination of the interplanetary romance with a medieval sense of wonder to create nearly unprecedented tales of non-acquisitive exploration that stand in stark contrast to those produced in the early days of science fiction. It also traces the medieval origins of many of the other unique features of the trilogy, including the combination of quest and pilgrimage in the form of the Irish immrama that may form the basis of the structures of both the individual books and the series as a whole.