The essence was that it is hard to understand why Kna'an was punished for the sin of his father, Cham. He was at most a child when Cham sinned.
So this speaker brought a medrash here (36:4) בתוך אהלו, אהלה כתיב, בתוך אהלה של אשתו.
אמר רבי הונא בשם ר' אליעזר בנו של ר' יוסי הגלילי: נח כשיצא מן התיבה הכישו ארי ושברו, ובא לשמש מטתו ונתפזר זרעו ונתבזה. The passuk refers to what we would assume was Noach's tent in the feminine form. The Medrash explains that Noach had gone into his wife's tent, and attempted to have marital relations with her, but because of the injury he suffered on the Teiva he was unable to consummate the act naturally, and he was disgraced.
The way I put it was that it is certainly not מינות. But it's not פלוס, either. (This bon mot will only make sense in הברה אשכנזית.)
Eli has let us know that this approach is not unprecedented. It is cited in the Da'as Mikra from יש"ר מגוריציה, Rav Reggio, and is also to be found in the writings of Volf Heidenheim. In fact, Heidenheim's interpretation is even more dramatic- he says that Cham impregnated his mother on the Teiva, and Noach only realized who was responsible when he saw how Cham behaved when Noach was drunk. Eli was kind enough to send us a pdf of the Heidenheim peirush, and it is available here. And if you are so disposed, here are some portraits:
Rav Volf Heidenheim also, here.
Rav Yitzchak Reggio
By the way, Rav Reggio also authored a defense of shaving on Chol Hamoed. His father strenuously disagreed with his conclusions and printed a rebuttal. I found this little vignette here.
In consideration of the fact that I was not personally at the shiur, I am putting a letter I received from a Yeshiva-mahn who was present there, and who does like this approach to learning Tanach.
I was at the lecture/shiur He mentioned that there are 2 ways to teach chumash 1) to report how chazal understood the text 2) to try and approach the text in a manner similar to the way chazal did which is to look at the text and try to see whats difficult and why and attempt to answer based on the text alone. His solution to the question still left unanswered why is it that Kannan is listed as 4 th among the sons of Cham. Seemingly he should have been the first and also why was Cham himself not the subject of Noach's curse since it was his act. One could argue that just as Noach's sons are not listed in order of birth neither were Cham's but it still begs the question of why that particular order. Regarding your hashkafah critique he did address that by saying the Torah relayed this event to teach Klall Yisroel who Kanann was and that his descendents were thus born into a family where which was devoid of basic morality so that when we enter Eretz yisroel we would understand to keep away from those that we couldnt kill or chase away
http://www.tanach.org/ uses the literary/pshat approach in elucidating the parshah and I find it refreshing way to look at psukim which makes the parshas a unified whole even when they dont necessarily offer a chidush
I disagree with him: to me, it's like learning the Gemara without the Rishonim. It's of use only to the extent that when you see that your pshat is not how the Rishonim learned, you have to figure out why they didn't learn like you. You can't learn Mishna without Gemara, and you can't learn Gemara without Rishonim, and you certainly cannot learn Tanach without the peirush of Gedolei Torah and Hashkafa. The Hertz Chumash is not for Bnei Torah.
Josh, in a comment, brought up the issue of the many gedolei Torah that found illumination in the thoughts of philosophers that were not Jewish. I responded that it is hard to know where Chazal (Medrash Eicha 2:13) drew the line in "מַלְכָּהּ וְשָׂרֶיהָ בַגּוֹיִם אֵין תּוֹרָה" אם יאמר לך אדם יש חכמה בגוים תאמן הדא הוא דכתיב (עובדיה א, ח ): "וְהַאֲבַדְתִּי חֲכָמִים מֵאֱדוֹם וּתְבוּנָה מֵהַר עֵשָׂו" יש תורה בגוים אל תאמן דכתיב "מַלְכָּהּ וְשָׂרֶיהָ בַגּוֹיִם אֵין תּוֹרָה".
I came across a short paragraph from Rav Gifter that touches upon this question, as follows: