Recapping Fall Interregnum XVIII: Readiness

Every semester, The King’s College pauses classes for two days of competitions revolving around a theme and accompanying works of literature. This sui generis tradition is known as Interregnum.

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Every semester, The King’s College pauses classes for two days of competitions revolving around a theme and accompanying works of literature. This sui generis tradition is known as Interregnum.

The Latin word interregnum means “the time between kings.” Stepping out of the normal rhythm of learning to hold this academic festival has been a King’s tradition since 2004. Competitive events range from debates to art exhibitions, in which the ten Houses compete for various honors.

Emily Schatz (PPE ’11) wrote that Interregnum is

…a hallmark of what it means to be a present-day Kingsian. Since 2009-10, Interregnum’s theme has been chosen by its student organizers who, to their credit, have consistently tackled portentous topics. The result is a lively and gregarious reflection on questions that matter in the church, the world, and the campus community itself—in a competitive format that seems to pull student talent out of the woodwork. Because Interregnum themes are so pertinent to thoughtful Christian life in the world, they have often helped the campus community understand its priorities more clearly, even in times of hardship or division. This relevance, along with the sheer fun of the week, creates an experience of camaraderie and solidarity that refocuses the whole community on its mission.

The Interregnum XVIII Committee for the 2021-22 academic year comprised Emma Powell (MCA ’22) as chair, Sean Kelly (PPE ’22) as vice chair, Addi Eggar (Humanities ’23) as competitions coordinator, Abbey New (English ’22) as academics coordinator, Julia Voss (PPE ’23) as events coordinator, Amelia Underhill (PPE ’23) as communications coordinator, Rochelle Thomas (English ’23) as Interregnum omnium, Director of Residence Life Leticia Mosqueda as staff advisor, and Associate Professor of Politics Dr. David Tubbs as faculty advisor.

The 2021-22 Interregnum Committee, L-R: Sean Kelly (PPE ’22), Emma Powell (MCA ’22), Director of Residence Life Leticia Mosqueda, Addi Eggar (Humanities ’23), Julia Voss (PPE ’23), Amelia Underhill (PPE ’23), Rochelle Thomas (English ’23), Abbey New (English ’22), and Associate Professor of Politics Dr. David Tubbs.

The Committee chose “readiness” as this year’s theme. To provide a deeper understanding of what it means to be ready, they paired this theme with The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, the biblical book of Esther, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

To help students grapple with the theme’s relevance to the King’s curriculum, the College community, and their individual callings, the Committee asked a number of initial questions in their theme announcement: “As students, New Yorkers, and Christians, we should be ready, but what should we be ready for? What kind of disposition towards life and preparation do we need to be truly ready? Can we ever be ready for the unexpected? Can our readiness fail us?”

Engaging the theme started early in the fall semester with a viewing of Hacksaw Ridge on September 27. The Interregnum Committee selected this movie to help students understand what it means to be ready through the story of Desmond Doss, a U.S. Army corporal who served as a combat medic in World War II. The campus-wide conversation continued on October 18 when students joined Senior Fellow of Christianity and Culture Dr. Joseph Loconte and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies Dr. Benjamin G. White for a discussion on the book of Esther and The Hobbit.

The Interregnum competitions that took place November 12 and 13 included Academic Writing, Impromptu Lecture, Great Speech, and the 24-Hour Film Festival.

The Academic Writing competition prompted each House to answer the question, “What about Esther and Bilbo allowed them to be ready for the situations in which they were placed when they lived lives that were so different from those very situations?” Each House was required to draft three essays responding to the question with differentiated arguments. The House of Corrie ten Boom won this event.

The Impromptu Lecture competition required Houses to demonstrate readiness in preparing cogent presentations on the fly. Houses chose two representatives to speak on the Fall readings—one spoke on Esther and the other spoke on The Hobbit. Houses were not allowed to prepare written material prior to drawing a prompt moments before their lecture. The House of Ronald Reagan won this event.

In the Great Speech competition, students delivered a live performance of a historic or contemporary speech. Orations included Nancy Hanks’ address at the 25th anniversary summit for Teach for America about a student she expelled, Admiral William McRaven’s 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas entitled “10 Life Lessons,” and Aung San Suu Kyi’s acceptance speech for winning the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought called “Freedom from Fear.” The House of C. S. Lewis won this event.

Harrison Chapman (RTS ’22) delivers the House of C. S. Lewis’ winning Great Speech performance.

For the 24-Hour Film Festival, Houses had to produce a five-minute film on a smartphone “comparing and contrasting the effects of eucatastrophes [a sudden turn of events] with the everyday challenges of life.” Each film had to address “How is readiness necessary for both? Is a eucatastrophe what people should always be prepared for, or something else? Is readiness more concerned with the present or the future?” The House of Dietrich Bonhoeffer won this event (watch the full video on Instagram).

The Fall Interregnum conference concluded with the House of C. S. Lewis in first place followed by the Houses of Corrie ten Boom and Margaret Thatcher tied for second. Interregnum XVIII: Readiness will continue in the spring 2022 semester from March 30 through April 1.

Kiera Williams (MCA ’22) works on the House of ten Boom’s film entry.

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