According to the Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series introductory video, the award was established to recognize the Corts’ invaluable leadership to the university, the community and the cause of literacy.
Authors who are selected for this event, according to the video, are not only notable in their field, but challenge, inspire and expand the thinking of students to become more engaged in matters of significant intellectual or historical interest and vital issues of the day.
Dean of the Beeson School of Education Anna McEwan provided more information on the selection process for this event.
“Within the Orlean Beeson School of Education, suggestions are solicited from faculty and staff members as well as from the Corts family. The final decision is made by the dean and the provost,” McEwan said.
From 2011-2019, the Education Department has hosted several notable authors for this event, including Anthony Ray Hinton, Eric L. Motley, Philip Yancey, Parker J. Palmer, Laura Bush, Wes Moore, Wendell Berry and Greg Mortenson.
This year, the author that was featured was Patti Callahan Henry. In the live stream event on Sept. 22, Henry discussed her novel, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis.”
Henry discussed the inspiration behind her novel. At one point, when she was reading the essay “The Long Way Round” by Joy Davidman, Henry found the line, “If we should ever go brave, what on Earth would become of us?”
After discovering this line, Henry sought to know more about Davidman’s life and her relationship with C.S. Lewis. What she learned helped provide inspiration for how she would frame her novel.
“I was going to tell this story from her point of view. I was going to tell it from behind her heart and from the key of empathy. I was going to tell it in the first-person as if I was her,” Henry said.
Not only did Henry read a multitude of written works by Davidman, but she also traveled to London and Oxford.
“After I read everything I could of hers, I went to London and to Oxford because I felt like there was no way I could tell this story without walking in the steps of Joy,” Henry said.
Henry discussed Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis and their journey of how they were able to be together.
“Both Joy and Jack (aka C.S. Lewis) had so many obstacles to overcome, from internal, external, familial and community. Both of them had to overcome things to be together,” Henry said.
Henry also described the different lessons that she thinks Davidman would share with us if she was alive today.
“I think she would talk to us about how it’s ok to be different from those around you, and using your pain to breakthrough to others and not using it to build an armor of arrogance, how seeking approval is crippling to our life and purpose and finding out who we are in Christ,” Henry said.
If you are interested in viewing this live stream event, it can be found on Youtube. For more information on Patti Callahan Henry and her novels, visit her website.