In January, a University of Connecticut associate professor of English co-edited an anthology that covers the history of antifascist movements in the United States, becoming his second published book on the subject.
Christopher Vials, who is also the director of American studies at UConn, is co-editor of the “U.S. Antifascism Reader,” along with Bill Mullen of Purdue University. The anthology is a compilation of writings from different antifascism movements throughout U.S. history, from anti-civil rights activity to elements of the Trump base today, according to a UConn press release.
“The compilation is primarily nonacademic writing of people who are in movement cultures and who are trying to stop fascism in various ways,” Kenneth Best, an editorial associate in the UConn communications department, said.
Vials began taking an interest in the history of fascism as he felt it was important to clarify the true meaning of the term, especially with the election of President Trump, according to a UConn Today interview with the co-editor.
“I had done a lot of work on the 1930s and ‘40s and saw this subject of fascism and the word fascism beginning to lose its meaning,” Vials said. “The stakes of the issue have been real in the U.S., but what I didn’t expect was that they would become so very real, so quickly.”
Prior to this anthology, he wrote a book on the subject titled “Haunted by Hitler,” which came out during the Obama administration. Vials felt continued scholarship on antifascism was necessary for the American people following the 2016 election and the sudden global wave of white nationalist politics, which led him to edit this anthology, he said.
“But then we had the election of Trump and, as importantly, a wave of white nationalist politics around the world, and it struck me that the world needs more scholarship on the history of antifascism,” Vials said. “I think what people call ‘white nationalism’ is a twenty-first century incarnation of fascist politics.”
Vials said readers should consider reading this anthology because it is important to understand the history of fascist movements in the United States, as well as the history of domestic antifascism movements.
“The U.S. has never had a fascist state, even now, but we have had the functional equivalent of fascist movements, and some of these have been so influential that they’ve changed the course of U.S. history and its institutions,” Vials said. “Equally important, Americans have been fighting and checking these domestic movements since the 1920s.”
Vials said he believe it is extremely important for the topic of fascism to be taught in the classroom, so he has designed a class covering the subject which will be offered in Spring 2021.
“It’s a word everyone recognizes, but most people in the 21st century no longer have a detailed sense of what it really means,” Vials said. “For that reason, I designed a class called ‘Fascism and its Opponents’ (ENGL/CLCS 2609) and it will be offered for the first time in Spring 2021. I’m teaching it as an American Studies class right now.”
Thumbnail photo courtesy of the Pell Center website.
Amanda Kilyk is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.