Tony Vinci’s Apocalypse Course takes students beyond the end of the world to find…


Tony Vinci students will soon be able to explore life in an apocalyptic Africa, in a North American technological utopia, in a world without animals, in an American-Japanese vision of romance and intimacy after the collapse of civilization , And much more.

The creation of this course is Vinci’s intellectual reward for winning one of the OHIO College Professor Awards for 2022-23.

The course, “Apocalyptic American Fiction: Trauma, Intimacy, and Ethics After the End of the World,” will explore how end-of-the-world narratives might help people grapple with three fundamental but elusive features of contemporary American life: trauma , intimacy and ethics.

“The world always ends, doesn’t it? As individuals and communities, we are always in a state of loss…versions of ourselves, the people we love, the memories we we can’t quite hang on. All transformations are in some way apocalyptic; all change requires the end of some way of thinking or living. But these are just internal apocalypses, personal losses that keep us alive. alter,” said Vinci, an associate professor of English who teaches at OHIO Chillicothe.

“Think of real historical apocalypses: the extinction of animals, the genocide of Native Americans, the transatlantic slave trade – such events mark the end of certain worlds, of certain versions of the world. Just look at some of the place names in southern Ohio: Chillicothe, Shawnee, Ashtabula. These names are ghosts, pointing to people and worlds that no longer exist. For millions of people, what we call the world is already over. And none of this considers present or future apocalypses we may experience – ecological catastrophe, impending war, endemic social injustice. It’s no wonder that apocalyptic fiction is permeating American writers and audiences.

Vinci has some experience with ghosts, at least in the literary genre.

In 2020 he published his second book, “Ghost, Android, Animal: Trauma and Literature Beyond the Human” (Routledge 2020). In the book, he establishes how postwar American novels address the volatile realities of victimization, violence, and loss by experimenting with critical posthumanism, an interdisciplinary field of study that challenges the idea that the human is the central agent on the planet Earth.

“Beyond our small realities”

Although he specializes in contemporary American literature and film, Vinci says much of his teaching sits at the crossroads of popular culture and American literary history. His classes bring HBO’s Game of Thrones into dialogue with Holocaust literature, juxtapose young adult fantasy literature with literary modernisms, and understand androids in film through African American literary theory.

The timing of the course of the apocalypse as war rages in Ukraine is a bit of a fluke, but Vinci says the subject has been bubbling in his consciousness for some time.

“We’ve always had apocalyptic literature, and for as long as we’ve had movies, we’ve had apocalyptic movies. But something special has happened over the past few decades that amplifies the volume and intensity of this work that I want to study with my students. There is something…sweet about many of our apocalyptic texts, something intimate and sublime that shivers beneath the surface of these stories. The tales we will study invite us to rethink who we are, how we live, and what the word ‘world’ might really mean beyond our small realities,” he said. “I’m so excited to see how the students think with these weird and diverse stories.”

Throughout the course, Vinci will ask students to consider: how might apocalyptic stories tell of hopes and anxieties about social (in)justice, violence, environmental calamities, and other large-scale concerns that often cause trauma, create a cause of intimacy and challenge our ethics? How might they deepen our awareness of individual and collective experiences of intimacy, grief and trauma? How might tales that free characters from the normalities of American life encourage us to discover new forms of intimacy while learning to live more ethically?

“If we do our job well and read these texts carefully, we may learn what many characters in American apocalyptic fiction learn: we are bound by precariousness, and it is through our vulnerabilities that we can foster innovative visions of kinship and community with the infinite array of life, human and non-human, with which we share the planet,” he notes in the program.

Vinci’s 3-credit course, “Apocalyptic American Fiction: Trauma, Intimacy, and Ethics After the End of the World,” will be listed as UP 4901U and ENG 4900 and will be taught Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.: 8 p.m. It will be taught in person at the Athens campus for the Fall 2022 semester.

“Liberal arts and humanities… a risky act”

Da Vinci’s powerful and persuasive teaching has already been recognized. He received an OHIO Presidential Teacher Award in 2019. But his real reward might be the energy that emanates from his class.

“At the heart of my teaching burns the belief that students must demonstrate a way of thinking – a way of being – by participating in intellectual and creative procedures that inspire deep and constant curiosity. Beyond learning the known and the accepted, their curiosity should lead them to develop something new, something innovative, something important for themselves and for their communities. Why are they here? What are the current limits of their values, skills, and perceptions? How might they transcend them? What are they doing? Do they dare to learn on their own? Such questions are intended to empower students to steer their studies in both pragmatic and transformative,” he said.

“I force students to view the study of liberal arts and humanities as a risky act, pushing them to engage in the undisciplined interactions between culture and artistic production, language and experience, and individual thought and social action. I transform my students and their academic productions into the “real” texts of each course I teach. By positioning the students – their questions, their ideas, their curiosities – at the very center of course, they learn to be responsible for transforming their communities through rigorous research and writing practices. In such an environment, knowledge is not just taught by a teacher, but created by a community of learners from diverse backgrounds and with different levels of academic preparation. I find that this approach prepares students to interact deeply with the course material while stimulating the their own hypotheses and preparing them to advance their own independent research,” Vinci said.

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