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Steven and Sue Beebe. Steven is holding the autobiography by A.N. Wilson about C.S. Lewis that started his Lewis educational journey, and Sue is holding the book written by the two of them on public speaking.
Daily Record photo by Shannon West

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Steven Beebe with the only signed photograph of C.S Lewis.
Daily Record photo by Shannon West.

Professor teaches locals how to communicate like C.S. Lewis

Friday, February 9, 2024

The San Marcos Public Library is the home of a dream come true for the local bookworm that is looking to strengthen their knowledge reserves. Lifelong Learning Director Marianne Reese is currently spearheading a community lecture series that involves six unique topics on six consecutive Fridays at the San Marcos Public Library.

Dr. Steven Beebe, a distinguished professor emeritus of communication for both Texas State University and the Texas State University System at large, held a lecture called 'How to Communicate Like C.S. Lewis.' Lewis wrote a substantial number of books: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Screwtape Letters and Prince Caspian, to name a few.

Beebe said his introduction to Lewis came during a leave from work in Oxford, England when he read his biography, which was written by A.N. Wilson. Beebe studied Lewis’ unpublished manuscripts as a research process designed to get into his head by reading what had been crossed out or not included in the final books, but he found that Lewis crossed out very little. Out of that venture, he read an unpublished manuscript about communication and eventually transcribed it over several years worth of trips to the Bodleian Library; the library wouldn’t allow them to be checked out.

Beebe’s appreciation of Lewis grew over the years, along with his collection of first edition books, books inscribed by Lewis, documents with Lewis’ signature and the only signed photograph of Lewis. Throughout his years educating himself on the man and collecting his paraphernalia, he was able to sum up Lewis’ communication style and is now educating the public on what made him a successful communicator.

“Three reasons why I think Lewis is worthy of study and a good communicator. He was a popular communicator. He was a professional communicator, and then I argue that he was a professor of communication; from looking at his work, that’s what he wrote about,” Beebe said, adding that 100 million copies of the Chronicles of Narnia were sold. “40 or 50,000 copies of a book will get you on the NY times Bestseller list. In fact, I looked it up and one source said it was the 9th most published work of fiction ever. Lewis knew something about how to connect with us.”

Beebe said while reviewing Lewis, he found five effective communication tools that he used regularly that others could implement as well. It was holistic, which meant there was an integration of speaking and writing with a conversational quality achieved by thinking it, saying it then writing it. It was intentional, which meant it was clear on what it is intended to do and how it is meant to be used. It was transpositional, which meant it communicated spiritually and emotionally rich experiences often using metaphor to help others discover the meaning of that experience. It was evocative, which meant it could tap into the feelings of others by describing the scene rather than telling the audience how to feel. It was audience centered, which meant the words were chosen with the reader or listener in mind. He said this can be achieved by sharing personal experiences to reach others with similar experiences, effective delivery and skillful use of language. Beebe created the acronym HI-TEA to make these communication principles easier to remember.

The lecture series involved six separate and unique topics. The first topic, The Creation and Early History of the U.S. Supreme Court was taught by Joleene Snider, Texas State University senior lecturer emeritus for the Department of History, on Feb. 5. Andrea Banzatti, Texas State University assistant professor of physics, discussed his studies on the formation of terrestrial planets using the NASA James Webb Space Telescope data on Jan. 12. Sarah Hirneisen, Texas State University School of Art and Design lecturer, taught “Mark of the Hand: Sculptural Explorations” on Jan. 26. Kellie Donajkowski, Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center education program manager, discussed macroinvertebrates in the San Marcos River on Feb. 2. Snider will be teaching another course on Britt Johnson to celebrate Black History Month on Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. Sign up in advance by calling the San Marcos Public Library at (512)393-8200.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666