• Jim Ludes, G. Wayne Miller speak with Christopher Vials on SIPS

    Christopher Vials on “Story in the Public Square” July 8, 2017

    In the 1930s and early 1940s, prominent Americans publically endorsed a policy of “America First,” even if that meant turning a blind eye to the violence done in Europe by fascist political parties in Italy and, especially Germany.  Christopher Vials argues that American fascism has roots that go back to the end of World War I—and is enjoying new dynamism today.

    Vials is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, where he is also the Director of American Studies. His broader research interests include class and racial formation, popular culture, ethnic studies, and working class cultural studies.

    Vial’s monograph, Haunted by Hitler: Liberals, the Left, and the Fight against Fascism in the United States, looks at the ways in which antifascism, a political discourse with origins in the international left of the 1930s, remained in US popular culture after the Second World War.

    His first book, entitled Realism for the Masses: Aesthetics, Popular Front Pluralism, and US Culture: 1935-1947, examined how the 1930s and 1940s left popularized realism in the US, and in so doing, re-shaped the contours of American pluralism.

    “Story in the Public Square” airs on Rhode Island PBS in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. & 10:30 p.m. ET and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124.

    Story in the Public Square is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate, and tell stories that matter.

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1 Comment

  1. Suzann Thompson says: July 10, 2017 at 1:54 pmReply

    I heard your show for the first time yesterday, when you discussed fascism with Christopher Vials.

    On the question about why dystopian situations are so popular in movies and novels, I’d like to add to Dr. Vials’s answer.

    Our society admires heroes–as we should. In real life and in fiction, the more terrible the situation is, the more dramatic and wonderful the hero seems. The darker the world, the brighter the hero shines.

    That’s no surprise, because if the world is bright and happy, who needs a hero? Well, I think we need heroes even when things are good. They are the people who keep things running smoothly. They make thoughtful choices. They correct the small breakages that happen each day, so that we never get to the point of dystopia.

    Unfortunately, keeping families and society and infrastructure up and running is not usually very dramatic. Too bad, because the people who do that are unsung heroes, who will prevent fascism from gaining hold in this country.

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