Daniel Cou­pland in Oxford (Photo: Cou­pland / Courtesy)

Pro­fessor of Edu­cation Daniel Cou­pland researched two in-depth projects on C.S. Lewis in Oxford this spring. While there, Cou­pland was able to stay at the Kilns, Lewis’ former res­i­dence, where he studied and worked on his projects.

“Every so often I would pause and just reflect on the fact that Lewis lived here for 30 years, and he walked these hallways, and he was reading in the library, and he ate in the dining room,” Cou­pland said. “I have a lot of respect for him, and just to walk the halls that he walked and to see the desk where he wrote ‘The Chron­icles of Narnia,’ that was just amazing.”

Coupland’s research focused on Lewis’ use of the the­o­logical virtues as well as the influence of Kenneth Grahame, author of “The Wind in the Willows,” in Lewis’ life and writings.

“Lewis cites ‘The Wind in the Willows’ perhaps more than any other novel,” Cou­pland said. “He cites it in quite a few of his articles, but he uses the char­acters from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ in a few of his more well-known books like ‘The Four Loves’ and ‘The Problem of Pain.’”

Cou­pland said his fas­ci­nation with Lewis goes beyond a simple appre­ci­ation of his works, as Lewis helped to shape his under­standing of Christ.

“I would say that Lewis, through ‘The Chron­icles of Narnia,’ helped me to develop an under­standing of who Christ is, and I would suggest that the imag­i­native side of his writing, him pro­viding these images, has actually deepened that under­standing,” Cou­pland said.

Cou­pland stayed at the Kilns for three weeks and was allowed to use Lewis’ former house as a place of study through the C.S. Lewis Foun­dation, which owns the property. While there, Cou­pland had the oppor­tunity to eat lunch at The Eagle and Child, a pub in Oxford that was a former meeting spot of Lewis and some of his closest friends. He also gave a lecture at New College.

This lecture was attended by Elis­abeth Guensche and Carly Howell, two current Hillsdale stu­dents who have taken classes with Cou­pland. Both gave glowing reviews of the lecture.

“He was speaking about the moral imag­i­nation, and how, espe­cially in children, it’s really important to exercise the moral imag­i­nation,” Howell said. “Someone can tell you that some­thing is wrong and that you shouldn’t do it, but when you see char­acters in a story and you see the lessons played out before you, then you can put yourself in the char­acters’ shoes and actually learn lessons better that way.”

Guensche said she admires Cou­pland for his love of children’s lit­er­ature.

“I think his passion for children’s lit­er­ature espe­cially comes across in the classroom, and kind of makes you love it too, and it’s just really fun,” Guensche said.

Cou­pland described his time at the Kilns as “the trip of a lifetime and a great expe­rience.”

According to his stu­dents, he shares this same excitement and love for learning in the classroom every day.

“He’s one of my favorite teachers here, one of my favorite pro­fessors, and I can just tell that he gen­uinely cares about the stu­dents as people,” Howell said. “If you take his class you’re going to enjoy it.”