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Episode Summary

To read is human. Even as literacy rates or the quality of that literacy make us nervous for the future, the act of reading looks like it’s somewhere near the essence of what it means to be human. Because reading doesn’t end, or even start, with books. Reading is this search for meaning. A turning and tuning of our senses outward. Looking for symbols, looking for signs of life. It’s the longing for a message in a bottle, in hopes of discovering, making, and living in a shared meaning together. Jessica Hooten Wilson (Pepperdine University) and Matthew J Smith (Hildegard College) join Evan Rosa to discuss the joys and perils of reading, how to make young readers, how to teach and cultivate mature readers in the university context, and the significance of reading as a Christian spiritual practice. Help the Yale Center for Faith & Culture meet a $10,000 matching challenge for podcast production; visit faith.yale.edu/give or click the link in the show notes to donate today.

Episode Notes

To read is human. Even as literacy rates or the quality of that literacy make us nervous for the future, the act of reading looks like it’s somewhere near the essence of what it means to be human. Because reading doesn’t end, or even start, with books. Reading is this search for meaning. A turning and tuning of our senses outward. Looking for symbols, looking for signs of life. It’s the longing for a message in a bottle, in hopes of discovering, making, and living in a shared meaning together. Jessica Hooten Wilson (Pepperdine University) and Matthew J Smith (Hildegard College) join Evan Rosa to discuss the joys and perils of reading, how to make young readers, how to teach and cultivate mature readers in the university context, and the significance of reading as a Christian spiritual practice.

Help the Yale Center for Faith & Culture meet a $10,000 matching challenge for podcast production; visit faith.yale.edu/give to donate today.

About Jessica Hooten Wilson

Jessica Hooten Wilson is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books at Pepperdine University and formerly Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas. She is the author of several books, most recently Reading for the Love of God. Her book Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov received a 2018 Christianity Today book of the year in arts and culture award  and The Scandal of Holiness received a 2022 Award of Merit. In 2019 she received the Hiett Prize for Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Other awards include a Fulbright Fellowship to Prague, an NEH to study Dante in Florence, a Biola University sabbatical fellowship funded by the John Templeton Foundation, and the 2017 Emerging Public Intellectual Award. She is a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum.

About Matthew J. Smith

Matthew J. Smith is Founder and President of Hildgard College in Southern California. He holds a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Southern California, an M.A. from the University of Connecticut, and a B.A. from Biola University. He taught for ten years at Azusa Pacific University before founding Hildegard College. His scholarship is on medieval and renaissance literature and especially the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Herbert, Donne, and late medieval drama. Dr. Smith is the author and editor of four books: Performance and Religion in Early Modern England: Stage, Cathedral, Wagon, Street (Notre Dame), Face to Face in Shakespearean Drama: Ethics, Performance, Philosophy (Edinburgh), Literature and Religious Experience: Beyond Belief and Unbelief (Bloomsbury), and a recently finished manuscript: Shakespearean Recognitions: Philosophies of the Post-Tragic. He is also an editor of the journal Christianity & Literature and has guest-edited three special issues: The Sacramental Text Reconsidered, Sincerity, a Literary History, and The Future of Christianity and Literature in Literary Studies.

Dr. Smith founded Hildegard College in 2022 with the conviction that higher education needs a reset. Where typical universities are growing ever larger into multi-versities, abandoning the traditional liberal arts and giving students a predominantly anonymous learning experience, Dr. Smith argues that the future of quality education, especially Christian education, is focused, tight-knit, rigorous, and recommitted to the classics of the liberal arts tradition. His vision for Hildegard College is to create an environment where young people can explore the riches of the classical tradition while also exploring and gaining experience in different areas of work—part monastery and part startup incubator. Mentorship, deep learning, and personal formation are the bedrock of a classical education.

Matt Smith lives in Fullerton, CA with his wife and three children. He serves on the boards of Veritas Classical Academy and of the Classic Learning Test. When he isn’t teaching, he cooks, plays soccer, trains in jiu jitsu, mountain bikes, plays with his dog, and writes.

Show Notes

  • Help the Yale Center for Faith & Culture meet a $10,000 matching challenge for podcast production; visit faith.yale.edu/give to donate today.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Jessica Hooten Wilson and Matthew J Smith
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Macie Bridge
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

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