The Inklings Conference Registration


The Inklings Conference: Formation, Imagination, and Cooperation

September 22-24, 2022, Nashotah House Theological Seminary

This one-of-a-kind conference will explore the creative imaginations of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers. Hear from a distinguished panel of scholars and speakers who will apply various lenses in examination of these literary giants. Hosted on Nashotah House’s lakeside campus, The Inklings Conference will also provide the opportunity to worship in the historic St. Mary’s Chapel, share meals with our residential community, watch a Tolkien movie on the Garth, and gain free admission Friday through Sunday to a public viewing of the Tolkien manuscripts at Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University in nearby Milwaukee. Attendees can reserve tickets here.
The Inklings Conference is hosted by Nashotah House with support from the Raynor Memorial Library at Marquette University and the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College.
Those interested in attending Carl Hostetter’s free lecture on Editing the Tolkienian Manuscript at 5 p.m. on September 22 at Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art can reserve tickets here.

"It's like finding Oxford in Wisconsin."

The Rev. Dr. Malcolm Guite, on visiting Nashotah House

Conference Schedule


  • Evening Prayer & Eucharist, St. Mary's Chapel, Nashotah House

  • OPTIONAL: "Editing the Tolkienian Manuscript," Carl Hostetter, NASA Computer Scientist
    Hosted at the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University.

  • Bilbo Baggins Birthday Party Under the Tent


  • Morning Prayer/Mass, St. Mary's Chapel, Nashotah House

  • Breakfast in the Refectory, Nashotah House

  • Session 1: "Anticipating Tolkien: The Canterbury Tale of Dorothy L Sayers"
    Speaker: Dr. Crystal L. Downing, Co-Director of the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College

  • Session 2: "C. S. Lewis: Mere Anglo-Catholic?"
    Speaker: Dr. David C. Downing, Co-Director of the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College
    Adams Hall, Nashotah House

  • Lunch with Dr. Garwood Anderson, Dean of Nashotah House, in the Refectory

  • Session 3: "Inventing Gandalf: Tolkien's Journey of Subcreation in the Twilight of Catholic Modernism"
    Speaker: Dr. Michael B. Cover, Professor of Theology, Marquette University
    Adams Hall, Nashotah House

  • Session 4: "Family, Love, and Duty in Aslan’s Land"
    Speaker: The Rev. Dr. John McCard, Rector of St. James Episcopal Church, Richmond Virginia
    Adams Hall, Nashotah House

  • Choral Evensong - St. Mary's Chapel

  • Dinner on the Garth with Food Trucks, Nashotah House

  • Tolkien Movie on the Garth, Nashotah House


  • Morning Prayer, St. Mary's, Nashotah House

  • Continental Breakfast, the Refectory, Nashotah House

David C. Downing

David C. Downing is the Co-Director (with his wife Crystal Downing) of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Downing grew up in Colorado, graduated from Westmont College, and received his PhD from UCLA.

Downing has written four scholarly books on C.S. Lewis: Planets in Peril (1992), a critical study of the Ransom trilogy; The Most Reluctant Convert (2002), an examination of Lewis’s journey to faith; Into the Wardrobe (2005), an in-depth overview of the Narnia Chronicles; Into the Region of Awe (2005), a study of how Lewis’s wide reading in Christian mysticism enhanced his own faith and enriched his imaginative writing. Downing also provided a critical introduction and over 400 explanatory notes to the new edition of C.S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress, originally published in 1933 and reissued by Eerdmans in the Wade Center Annotated Edition (2014).

Downing is a consulting reader on C.S. Lewis for the Publications of the Modern Languages Association (PMLA), as well as Christian Scholars Review and Religion and Literature. He also serves as an editorial consultant for Blackwell’s Books, Cambridge University Press, Notre Dame University Press, and several other academic publishers.

Downing is also the author of Looking for the King (2010), a historical novel in which two young Americans meet Lewis and Tolkien in Oxford in 1940. His blog may be found at


Crystal Downing

Formerly Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, Crystal Downing accepted a position as Co-Director of the Marion E. Wade Center and co-holder of the Marion E. Wade Chair in Christian Thought at Wheaton College, a position she shares with her husband, C. S. Lewis scholar David C. Downing.

Crystal’s first book, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers (Palgrave 2004), was granted the Barbara Reynolds Award for best Sayers scholarship in 2009 by the international Dorothy L. Sayers Society. Sayers also informs her next two books, How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith and Changing Signs of Truth (IVP Academic 2006 & 2012), which explore the relationship between cultural studies and Christianity. Crystal’s fourth book, Salvation from Cinema: The Medium Is the Message (Routledge 2016), assesses the field of “religion and film,” encouraging people of faith to acquaint themselves with film theory in order to better understand movies—not only as cultural statements but also as works of art.

The Rev. Dr. Michael B. Cover

The Rev. Dr. Michael Cover is Henri de Lubac Chair in Theology and an Associate Professor in the Theology Department of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cover specializes in New Testament and early Judaism, particularly the Pauline letters, Philo of Alexandria, and their reception in early Christianity. His articles appear (or are forthcoming) in the Harvard Theological Review, the Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Studia Philonica Annual. His first book, Lifting the Veil: 2 Cor 3:7-18 in Light of Jewish Homiletic and Commentary Traditions (De Gruyter, 2015), examines Paul’s biblical interpretation in the Corinthian Correspondence. Current research interests include the study of echoes of classical tragedy and comedy in the New Testament.

He is also working on a book-length commentary on Philo of Alexandria’s allegorical treatise, De mutatione nominum, for the Brill Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series (PACS). Michael has been a Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and was awarded the 2017 Paul J. Achtemeier Award for New Testament Scholarship.

He is a priest in the Episcopal Church and a member of the current round of Anglican-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Dialogue in the United States (ARC-USA). His work is supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Fellow 2018-2019, WWU Münster).



The Rev. Dr. John McCard

The Rev. Dr. John McCard has served as the Rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, since the fall of 2017. He grew up in Macon, Georgia.  A graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, he received his Master of Divinity degree from General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1992. He also completed a Master of Sacred Theology degree at Nashotah House in 2003 and a Doctor of Ministry Degree at Virginia Theological Seminary in 2007.

As a priest, he has served churches in Ohio, Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Fr. McCard has lectured extensively in various churches around the country on the writings and life of C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. He is married to Cynthia King McCard. They are proud parents of three daughters: Florrie, Clementine, and Matilda.