Hank Lin '20 talks about his ReReading Podcast

With great literature, like Plato's Republic and Macbeth, Hank Lin '20 explores the phrase, "everything is up for interpretation" in his podcast, ReReading. Hank shares his inspiration for the podcast and what college professors you'll hear from in this Q&A. 

Tell the Gilman Community about Re-Readings Podcast. 

Re-Readings is a literature/philosophy podcast in which I invite scholars to talk about their own readings of the same texts. The podcast also includes clips from street interviews conducted in New York City. By adding in people’s opinions as interesting “footnotes” that correspond with what professors discuss in the literary conversation, it adds context to the interview. In the future, I also hope to produce a few “roundtable” episodes after the release of the first 3 “professor” episodes. I want to invite listeners of the podcast to a roundtable where we discuss the episodes and the texts. 

What are you looking to achieve with this podcast?

Re-Reading's mission is that there is no one "true" understanding of a great text. With this podcast, I shed like on the varying interpretations possible between the audience and leading academic scholars. This realization should encourage students to explore their own understanding of the great texts, instead of trying to learn the one “true” understanding in their classroom. The conversations with professors would serve as a starting point for students to think about the texts and inspire them to discover their own ways of reading. 

How did the idea for ReReading originate? 

After emailing some college professors with questions after reading Plato’s Republic, I got the opportunity to meet a few of them during my college visits in April. During my visit, I enjoyed conversing with the professors and the benefits that come from such conversations. However, I found that these brilliant scholars, who dedicate their lives to the study of the great literature, often had radically different (and not always compatible) interpretations of the same text. This observation raised a question for me: if experts disagree with each other on these topics, and all of them have reasonable accounts for their opinions, could there really be a “true” reading of the great texts? The answer seems to be “no.” Therefore, students must realize there is a myriad of valid ways to read the works of great authors, like Shakespeare and Plato. With that realization, students can start exploring the world of ideas for themselves. To do so, I decided to let more people hear the differences between scholars’ interpretations through my podcast, Re-Readings.  

Talk about your interview process? Recently, you tweeted pictures of you conducting interviews in Central Park. 

I am working with a studio in New York to produce this podcast. As I mentioned above, the main component of the podcast would be conversations with professors. I make 30-minute phone calls with professors in the studio and then review the recordings to select the parts that would work well in the actual podcast. Meanwhile, I am also conducting street interviews in a few locations in New York (Shakespeare in the Park line in Central Park, Time Square, Columbia University campus, etc.). I would try to find some interesting clips in those interviews and “splice” them into the episodes. 

What are literary works will you cover? 

This season, I am covering Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Plato’s Apology of Socrates, and the Book of Genesis. 

Any featured guests?

Re-Readings will feature several college professors and students:

  • Yale University Professor, Steven Smith 

  • Princeton University Professor, Alexander Nehamas 

  • University of Chicago Professor, David Bevington

  • Harvard English Ph.D. student and former US Army Aviation Officer, Nick Utzig

I am scheduled to interview Professor Katja Vogt of Columbia and Professor Paul Kahn of Yale in early August. I am looking to conduct nine interviews in total, so I am still working on inviting other professors to the show.

The first episode of Re-Reading launches September 4, 2019. We can't wait to tune in.