Students Examine Villainy as Part of Interregnum VII
Keynote lecturer encourages city dwellers to be extra cautious
NEW YORK, April 15, 2011—Each spring, The King’s College holds its annual “Interregnum.” In Latin, the word interregnum means “the time between kings.” At King’s, it is a break from classes for a two-day event filled with speaking and writing competitions. This year’s theme for Interregnum was “Villainy,” and the College community read Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s classic psychological account of a villain. The competitions and evening lecture—run by a committee of students and judged by professors—illuminate the year’s theme. Past themes include Difficulty, Civilization, and Avarice.
The House of Susan B. Anthony became the first women’s house to win the Interregnum Cup.
Villainy might be simply defined as a manner of behaving wickedly. It is, however, used more often as a term of opprobrious address for one's opponent. Students spent much of their time discussing the underpinnings of this theme: of what evil is man really capable? Where is the separation between the villain from the vilified, the reality of evil from its perception? Is a truly objective villain possible outside of fiction?
“The events at Interregnum VII were great because we were able to step out of classes and put into action what we’ve learned in the classroom in a vibrant and competitive setting,” said Tim Wainwright (’12).
Dr. David Tubbs, assistant professor of politics, said, “This year's Interregnum was noteworthy for its broad student participation. Like other faculty members, I was impressed by the quality of the debates and other public-speaking competitions.”
In addition to the competitive portion of Interregnum, the College invites a prominent outside speaker to lecture on the theme each year. Past lecturers have included Father Richard John Neuhaus, Dr. Robert George and Dr. Stanley Hauerwas.
Dr. Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island, gave the Interregnum lecture this year. A contributing editor of Touchstone, Dr. Esolen has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy and written such books as Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child and Ironies of Faith.
In his lecture, Dr. Esolen defined Villainy as the refusal to honor that which is worthy of reverence, especially when that thing is small, simple, or weak. He said that villains often dwell in cities because urban dwellers are more easily disconnected from community, which makes them more susceptible to overlooking the small, simple or weak. Drawing on examples from history and literature, he cautioned the student body to seek humility and to care actively for the small among them in order to avoid becoming villainous. He also shared how valuing children is necessary because today’s society especially undervalues children, rendering it villainous.“
"Dr. Esolen’s lecture was a new angle on villainy, unlike the ones we’ve been discussing all year,” said Annie Clark (’12). “Instead of taking it as an equivocation of evil, he tied villainy to behaviors and thought patterns that everyone in the room could relate to. We felt as if villainy was something we had to be on our guard against instead of something that happened to other people. It was a great end to a year-long conversation.”
The King's College is located in the Empire State Building in New York City.
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