Baylor English Professor Selected as Member of Inaugural Cohort of Inklings Project Fellows

Fellowship supports Richard Rankin Russell, Ph.D., in his teaching of Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and other Oxford Christians

September 20, 2023
Richard Rankin Russell, Ph.D.

Richard Rankin Russell, Ph.D., professor of English and graduate program director of English at Baylor University, has been selected as an inaugural member of the Inkling Project Fellows

Contact: Shelby Cefaratti-Bertin, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-327-8012
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WACO, Texas (Sept. 20, 2023) – Richard Rankin Russell, Ph.D., professor of English and graduate program director of English at Baylor University, has been selected as a member of the inaugural cohort of Inklings Project Fellows for the academic year 2023-2024. Based out of the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life, the Inklings Project is an intercollegiate initiative that invites scholars to explore the worlds of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the other members of the famed Inklings author group.

The Inklings were an informal literary discussion group at the University of Oxford in the 1930s and 1940s that included such notable authors as Lewis and Tolkien, among others. The group was chosen as inspiration for this new enterprise for both their works and their model of fellowship, to encourage and support faculty who hope to provide an Inklings course on their own university campuses.

Russell will use his Inklings fellowship to redevelop an existing course on Oxford Christians.

“I think the ability to engage with some of the great Christian writers of all time has always been popular among Baylor students, and it will continue to be popular, not only because of some of the fantasy worlds they created but also because of what it means to be a Christian intellectual,” Russell said.

Russell’s commitment to bringing the works of the Inklings and the study of the Oxford Christians will provide new opportunities for students to expand their views on Christian literature and what it means to be a modern Christian academic.

“These authors spoke imaginatively and articulately about their Christian faith to a British culture that desperately needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as our own world does now,” Russell said.

In addition to funding to further develop the Oxford Christians course, Russell also will have the opportunity to share pedagogical ideas and insights with other Inklings scholars nationwide throughout the year, similar to the original Inklings meetings.

“I’m happy to be part of the group studying and promoting their writings,” Russell said. “There is great value in seeing what can result from meeting weekly with dear friends and sharing ideas and papers.”


Richard Rankin Russell, Ph.D., is a professor of English at Baylor University. Russell earned his undergraduate degree in English at the University of Memphis, an M.Phil. in English at the University of Glasgow in Scotland as a Rotary Ambassadorial fellow and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has been honored with the 2023 Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year and is the 2023-24 Baylor Oral History Institute Faculty Fellow at Baylor University. He has published seven monographs that received several national or regional awards for excellence. He also has edited four volumes of collected essays from other scholars and published 55 articles in scholarly journals, 14 essays in scholarly books, 33 other pieces in various publications and 28 book reviews in scholarly journals. He directed the Beall Poetry Festival for eight years and currently serves as his department’s graduate program, where he recruits outstanding students who are drawn to a faith-based graduate education in literature.


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