MU English professor Ray Ronci’s class “The Journey of the Hero” explores what he calls “the hero cycle.” The journey takes students from classical literature, such as “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” to modern works such as the Harry Potter series and “Star Wars.”
What Ronci likes most about the class is the moment students start to see parallels between the stories and their lives.
“They’re looking at these things and seeing their life stories,” he said. “(Everyone’s) life is a narrative.”
Each life is a journey — filled with callings and challenges, Ronci said. For students, the decision to go to college is accepting a challenge. After graduation, their challenge is finding a place in the world.
The most important part of the journey, Ronci added, is for students to find something they love.
Ronci traveled through Europe as a student and worked many odd jobs before finding his calling. Teaching was the one thing he was truly passionate about.
“I love my job,” he said. “And if I didn’t love it, what would be the point of being here?”
The classes Ronci teaches encompass a variety of subjects, including literary theory and post-modernism.
“They all encourage students to ask the same questions,” he said.
“ ‘Who am I? What do I think? and Why do I think what I think?’ ”
For Ronci, finding the answers to these questions is one of life’s greatest lessons.