People

Alan Jacobs

Alan Jacobs was professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois from 1984-2012, and is now Professor of Humanities at Baylor University’s Honors College. A regular guest on the Mars Hill Audio Journal, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and his B.A. from the University of Alabama. His professional interests include literary theory and the history of criticism, British Commonwealth literature, and religion and literature. Jacobs is a popular essayist and columnist and has been published in The American Scholar, Christianity and Literature, Harper'sBooks and Culture, and First Things. 

Our November 2007 podcast featured an extended version of an interview we had with Jacobs on Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, on Volume 48 of the Journal. The podcast is called Audition, and the extended interview can be found here.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 121

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Guests on Volume 121: Daniel Gabelman, on how George MacDonald’s celebration of the “childlike” promotes levity and a joyful sense of play, rooted in filial trust of the Father; Curtis White, on the troubling enthusiasm for accounts of the human person that reduce us to mere meat and wetware; Michael Hanby, on why there is no “neutral” science, how all accounts of what science does and why contain metaphysical and theological assumptions; Alan Jacobs, on why the Book of Common Prayer has lived such a long and influential life; James K. A. Smith, on how some movements in modern philosophy provide resources for recovering an appreciation for the role of the body in knowing the world; and Bruce Herman and Walter Hansen, on Herman’s paintings and how conversing about works of art enables us to grow in understanding of the non-verbal meaning they convey.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Alan Jacobs on the Christian conviction of poet Christina Rossetti

Literary critic and English professor Alan Jacobs discusses the life and work of nineteenth-century poet Christina Rossetti, whose poems reflect her struggle to remain faithful to her convictions in the midst of an extravagant and extremely aesthetic London society. Jacobs explains that the themes of renunciation and death in Rossetti's work do not stem from morbid fascination but reveal the integrity of her life as a Christian striving toward heaven.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 110

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Guests on Volume 110: Kevin Belmonte, on how G. K. Chesterton embraced a "defiant joy" in spite of the cynical pessimism of many of his contemporaries; David Lyle Jeffrey and Gregory Maillet, on why Christians cannot afford to regard literature as a mere entertaining diversion; Mark Noll, on what motivates anti-intellectualism among Christians and why it is a theologically indefensible prejudice; Alan Jacobs, on W. H. Auden's understanding of the vocation of "poet" and on the spiritual and historical background to Auden's 1947 book-length poem, The Age of Anxiety; and Jonathan Chaplin, on the outlines and sources of the social and political thought of Herman Dooyeweerd and on his understanding of the relationship between theology and Christian philosophy.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 105

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Guests on Volume 105: Julian Young, on the historical context of Friedrich Nietzsche's ideas and on why he still believed in the necessity of religion; Perry L. Glanzer, on the failure of American universities to adequately address the challenge of moral formation; Kenda Creasy Dean, on why churches are to blame for the "moralistic therapeutic Deism" so common among teens; Brian Brock, on how the centrality of technology in Western culture encourages us to see the gift of Creation as merely "nature" awaiting our manipulation; Nicholas Carr, on how the distracted character of multi-tasking ruins reading and how social networking systems sustain a "transactional" view of relationships; and Alan Jacobs, on how the literary form of the essay reproduces the unpredictable way that our thoughts develop.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 100

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Guests on Volume 100: Jennifer Burns, on the life and legacy of Ayn Rand, "goddess of the market" and entrenched enemy of altruism; Christian Smith, on the aimless cultural world of "emerging adulthood" and on how it makes the idea of objective moral order implausible; and Dallas Willard, on why it's important to recover the conviction that religious beliefs involve real knowledge. In honor of the five score milestone, part two of the issue features a look back at the beginnings of the Journal and a few special excerpts of conversations with those early guests, including Peter Kreeft on Lewis, Huxley, and J.F.K. after death; P. D. James, on good and evil in fiction; James Davison Hunter, on culture wars; Paul McHugh, on when psychiatry loses its way; Ted Prescott, on nudity in art and advertising; Ed Knippers, on the powerful presence of the body; Martha Bayles, on pop and perverse modernism; Dominic Aquila, on Christopher Lasch; Gilbert Meilaender, on random kindness; Neil Postman, on technology and culture; and Alan Jacobs, on being maudlin in Madison County.

MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 27

Deadly Legacy: Alan Jacobs on Original Sin

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Literary critic and C. S. Lewis biographer Alan Jacobs has enriched our understanding of Christian faith and its consequences with his thoughtful book Original Sin: A Cultural History (2008). The book looks at beliefs about human waywardness and its sources through much of Western history, and how those beliefs have affected literature, politics, music, education, and other spheres of human culture. In this Conversation, Jacobs explains how belief in original sin (in its Augustinian form) offers resources for comfort and community. 60 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 93

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Guests on Volume 93: Alan Jacobs, on practical consequences of belief in original sin (and the five distinct components of that belief); James A. Herrick, on redemptive myths advanced by science fiction and speculative science and on evolution as a religion; J. Daryl Charles, on the commitment by the magisterial Reformers to the idea of natural law; Robert C. Roberts, on the role of emotions in ethical and spiritual life; Allan C. Carlson, on how the industrial revolution changed the shape of households (including their floorplans) and the understanding of marriage; and Sheila O'Connor-Ambrose, on the work of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese in defending marriage against the various claims of individualism.

MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 24

Alan Jacobs on The Narnian

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In this Conversation with Ken Myers, Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, discusses a number of Lewis's writings, including The Great Divorce, The Abolition of Man, The Magician's Nephew, That Hideous Strength, and The Pilgrim's Regress. The theme that dominates the discussion is Lewis's view of the imagination, and his deep conviction that the shaping of the conscience requires the training of the imagination. 53 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 77

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Guests on Volume 77: Eric Miller on the conserving radicalism and revolutionary traditionalism of Christopher Lasch; Lisa de Boer on the depiction of everyday humanity in northern European post-Renaissance painting; Peter J. Schakel on seeing The Chronicles of Narnia as fairy tales, not just Christian allegory; and Alan Jacobs on how The Chronicles of Narnia reveal much of C. S. Lewis's thinking on almost everything, and on how Lewis's imagination was prepared to write such books.

MARS HILL AUDIO Anthology 5

The Christian Mind of C.S. Lewis

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In this Anthology, Ken Myers talks with Clyde Kilby about Lewis’s view of the imagination; with Michael Aeschliman about Lewis’s reasonable distrust of trusting reason too much; with James Como about the rhetorical genius in Lewis’s writing; with Bruce L. Edwards, Jr. about what his students learn from Lewis’s integration of faith and life; with Thomas Howard about the deep meaning of Till We Have Faces; and with Gilbert Meilaender about the surprising approach of Lewis’s apologetics. The program concludes with Alan Jacobs’s reading of his 1998 essay, “Lewis at 100.”

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