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Humanities and Cultural Studies

The Program

Faculty in the Humanities and Cultural Studies Program at Hampshire College write and teach across a broad range of disciplines, including literature; theories of media, culture, and the arts; philosophy; history; performance studies; art and architectural history; and religious studies.  Our program engages contemporary questions in response to current developments in the transnational world of art, culture, and religion.  At the same time, the curriculum offers students a historical background in the humanities and the study of culture in light of which present-day cultural artifacts and modes of reading acquire their shape.  Humanities and Cultural Studies faculty and students understand their objects of study as elements of current and historical formations of culture and society.  We engage diverse analytical methodologies to investigate how objects, texts, images, sounds, spaces, and performances come by their meanings, readings, and effects.  Shakespeare sides with Edwidge Danticat, Ancient Greek literature is studied alongside Buddhism.  Students combine critical readings of opera with those of contemporary sound art and electronic dance music, Spinoza and Kant with Judith Butler and Homi Bhabha, labor history with poetry, art and architectural history with theories of perception; Frankfurt School style cultural criticism with critical studies of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Connections

Symbolic representations in multiple forms and traditions are central to social, political, and economic existence and to history.  Given the omnipresence of representation, we see philosophy and the arts, cultural theory and practice, language and power, history and technology, the local and the transnational as fundamentally interconnected.   We work to energize the connections between cultural production and the theory and history of culture--this exchange is of special significance to us.  Hampshire’s interdisciplinary structure uniquely facilitates modes of critique that run across disciplines.  We attempt to make ideas in specific fields productive in light of questions in other fields, and thereby give rise to new objects of thought.  The goal of the humanities program is to support these transverse effects.  Our aim is to enable students to do reflective, innovative work within and beyond given areas of inquiry, and to challenge them to push the limits of conventional understandings.   

Courses

Through a selection of first-year courses, the program aims to help students to gain knowledge of questions and methods in the humanities and cultural studies.  In these courses, students strengthen their skills in critical reading, writing, looking, listening, and project-based work.  They learn to think critically in terms of multiple cultural perspectives.  They also acquire familiarity with theoretical approaches such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, poststructuralism, theories of modernity and postmodernity, and critical race studies.  In addition to our first-year courses, we offer a broad spectrum of advanced courses that lay a basis for students’ independently conceived second- and third-year concentrations (Division IIs) and fourth-year projects (Division IIIs).  We are committed to realizing a vibrant intellectual climate that helps students to become rigorous critical thinkers and creative cultural participants.  To this end, the Humanities and Cultural Studies Program supports faculty seminars and symposia (including the Sites-and-Citations-in-the-Humanities Project that is currently in its first three-year cycle and has an online journal in the works), lecture series (such as the yearly Eric N. Schocket Memorial Lecture on Class and Culture), and an end-of-the-year Division III student conference.

 
 

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