The study of literature at Hampshire College encompasses a diverse range of topics. Courses often center not only on time periods or specific authors, but also on genres, social and artistic movements, and theoretical or thematic questions.
Researching the historical and social impact of literature as well as the ways in which historical circumstances shape artists' creative work and literary movements is encouraged, and many courses promote the reading of literature in the original language.
Students can focus on a specific national or language-literature (for example, English, French, Russian) or alternately pursue a more comparative or multi-cultural approach (literature of the African Diaspora, Hispano-American literature, European comparative literature, post-colonial literature).
Students often design interdisciplinary concentrations that combine the study of literature with other areas of the arts or humanities (for example, art history, film, philosophy, religion) or develop interdisciplinary fields such as literature and environmental studies or literature and law.
Literature and Culture in the Jazz Age
This tutorial will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. culture by looking at literature (by Fitzgerald, Toomer, Yezierska, and Dos Passos as well as less canonical writers), music (jazz, ragtime, blues), and visual art and film (The Gold Rush, The Big Parade) released in a single year: 1925. We will explore themes of the Jazz Age such as modernism, urbanization, migration, race, class, and gender. Students will develop critical reading, viewing, and listening capabilities by tackling short writing assignments, and will dive into the historical archive to build strong research skills. Students will design and complete a guided independent research project, which will include a class presentation and a final paper.
The Center for the Book
Founded in 1998, the Center for the Book is a Hampshire program that fosters the study of technologies of the word from antiquity to the electronic age. Textual communication is explored as a technical, social, and aesthetic endeavor across the liberal-arts curriculum. Scholars, as well as practitioners of the book trade and book arts, are brought to Hampshire in order to reflect upon the material forms of the text; the history and future of reading and writing; the institutions and movements of textual culture; and freedom of expression.
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
The Hampshire College campus is also home to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the first full-scale museum devoted to national and international picture book art.