Trevecca senior, Christopher Thiessen, will be presenting his research, “On the Many Names of C.S. Lewis’s Aslan,” at the National Conference on Undergrad Research (NCUR) in April.
Thiessen is one of four Trevecca students selected to present at the annual conference which promotes undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study.
“This is going to be way out of my comfort zone, but I’m excited about it, for sure,” Thiessen said. “[Dr. Karounos] thought I should submit my research to NCUR and so I did.”
Thiessen, a music business major, started his research in Dr. Karounos’ class, C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, a course Thiessen took as an elective.
“I love art and literature and philosophy and all those things anyway and I learned so much [from Dr. Karounos’ general literature course] that when I saw he was teaching a C.S. Lewis class and I needed an elective, it seemed like a perfect fit,” Thiessen said.
This class focused on the writings of C.S. Lewis, including the books within The Chronicles of Narnia. Thiessen’s research was initially written as a final for the class and focused on the series. The paper ended up being 18 pages long.
“I don’t usually let non-English majors write a paper of that length, because they typically don’t have experience doing it, even at a college level,” Dr. Michael Karounos said. “But Chris talked me into it, and I let him. I was shocked after I read it, I told him it might even be publishable.”
While researching which direction to take his final paper, Thiessen found himself drawn to C.S. Lewis’ portrayal of God and the different names used for Him throughout The Chronicles of Narnia.
“There’s a part that talks about the nine different names of Aslan, so I took that quote and read into it,” Thiessen said. “I tried to equate that with what might be the biblical equivalent. Then I started looking in the Bible at different names of God and what those names represented about His character, and then pulled examples from Narnia on how Aslan fit those examples that were represented.”
Theiessen said that writing the paper itself was his favorite part of the process. Seeing his research come together only further solidified Thiessen’s belief that he had a thesis worth pursuing.
Karounos agreed, stressing that Thiessen’s work was an important addition to C.S. Lewis on-going studies.
”I think that this paper could actually contribute knowledge to the discipline,” he said. “That’s what every Ph.D. hopes to do with their papers and here’s an undergraduate paper which may have that potential. It has the potential to be a significant contribution to the studies of The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Thiessen will present his work at the national conference held this year in Memphis, Tenn., April 6-8. He’ll be joined by three more Trevecca students—Christian Keen, Kelsey Raymond and Laney Overton—who will present their research on Nashvillian Adelicia Acklen, a 19th century socialite and business woman. You can learn more about their project here.