Associate Professor of U.S. Literatures and Cultural Studies
Professor Hardesty’s courses explore the multiple literary cultures of the United States, in both national and transnational frameworks. She teaches that any reckoning with the literary history of the United States must include not only the canonized genres of novel, short story, and poetry, but also oral forms such as storytelling and slam poetry, and “popular” forms suc as science fiction and comics. Studying these different forms requires students to pay attention to their distinct contexts of emergence, modes of circulation, and measures of value. Understanding context also means understanding power, and Prof. Hardesty’s courses explore how texts and canons have both shaped and contested dominant formations of power along the lines of nation, gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.
Professor Hardesty’s research focuses on the crosscurrents of social movements and literary cultures during the Cold War era, with a focus on the cultural politics of international solidarity. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Writers Take Sides: Internationalism and U.S. Literatures, 1959-86. Her essay “Looking for the Good Fight: William T. Vollmann Comes of Age in Afghanistan” was published in the journal boundary 2 in 2009, and her essay “If All the Writers of the World Get Together: Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and a Writers’ International in Sandinista Nicaragua” appears in the edited volume Transnational Beat Generation (Palgrave, 2012), edited by Nancy Grace and Jenny Skerl. In addition, Hardesty’s work has appeared in Critical Quarterly and The Monthly Review, and in the historical comics encyclopedia Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas, edited by M. Keith Booker.
Hardesty is also working with Hampshire digital pedagogy librarian Alana Kumbier and Mount Holyoke archivist Leslie Fields on a project called “Zine Scenes,” supported by a Mellon-funded Five Colleges Digital Humanities project development grant. The goal of this project is to create an ongoing archival research initiative in which students, faculty, and library staff will examine queer and feminist zines from the 1990s within the countercultural contexts in which they were produced and circulated. This initiative will develop digital tools (games, mapping, timelines) to publish research findings on a dedicated website hosted by Five Colleges, Inc. A major part of this project is a Five College archival research seminar called “Beyond the Riot: Feminist and Queer Zine Histories,” hosted by Hampshire College, which we will teach in the fall of 2016. For more information, see http://5colldh.org/fac-staff-projects/zine-scenes/.
Professor Hardesty has been a member of the Hampshire in Havana program since 2012, and was Faculty-in-Residence in Havana for the spring 2015 semester. For more information on the program, see https://www.hampshire.edu/geo/hampshire-in-cuba.
Marxist writer Marshall Berman has argued, "To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world-and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are." In this introductory course, we will explore multiple aesthetic and cultural responses to the processes of modernization-colonialism, industrialization, urbanization, mechanized war, mass communication, mass migration, and mass social movements-by poets, fiction-writers, and intellectuals circulating in and out of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. The course will include canonical and countercanonical figures, will examine multiple literary genres (prose fiction, poetry, essay) and movements (e.g., the avant-gardes, the Harlem Renaissance, the Popular Front), and will traverse a range of contexts (e.g., the World Wars, the Great Migration, the Great Depression). Authors will include W.E.B. Du Bois, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Claude McKay, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, John Dos Passos, H.T. Tsiang, Meridel LeSueur, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Anzia Yezierska, Americo Paredes, and others. This course is explicitly reading focused: we will read a new piece or pieces in every class in order to expose ourselves to a broad range of literary texts and contexts. In addition, students will contribute weekly to an online discussion forum, complete a collective research project in modernist periodicals, and create an annotated bibliography project.
Moby-Dick, that hard-to-classify novel about Captain Ahab's mad search for the White Whale, took its own long voyage to arrive at a position in the canon of U.S. literature. Poorly received when it was published in 1851, Herman Melville's novel did not begin to gain its current status until the early 20th century. This course will follow Moby-Dick's voyage(s): we will begin with an intensive reading of the novel itself and explore its 19th century contexts. Then we will extensively examine three moments of the novel's afterlife in the 20th and 21st centuries: the 1920s, the Cold War (focusing on full-length treatments by C.L.R. James and Charles Olson), and the "War on Terror." We will also consider how Moby-Dick has been a reference point for commentators on this year's Trump presidential campaign. The last part of the course will consider the multitudinous ways in which Moby-Dick continues to be adapted and transformed in film, comics, visual art, and literary narrative. This is a course not only about Melville's novel but also about U.S. literary canon formation, the cultures of U.S. empire, race and the construction of American identities, and the politics of adaptation. This course will involve a rigorous reading load, frequent writing, and one major research project that will take the form of critical analysis, creative adaption, or both
In this course, we will do hands-on library and archival research to examine queer, feminist, and POC zines from the 1990s and the contexts in which they were produced and circulated. Zines (an abbreviation of "fanzine") are self-published amateur print publications that have been part of U.S. subcultural scenes since at least the 1950s. In the 1990s, zines played a crucial role in sustaining queer and feminist subcultures-the best known being Riot Grrrl-at the cusp of the digital age, when "scenes" were still built through physical correspondence and in-person encounters. This course will explore several library and archival zine collections in the Pioneer Valley, including the Girl Zines collection at Smith, the Margaret Rooks papers at Mount Holyoke, the Zine Collection at Hampshire, and the Flywheel Arts Space zine library in Easthampton. The course will be co-taught by Professor Michele Hardesty and librarian Alana Kumbier of Hampshire College, in collaboration with archivist Leslie Fields and librarian Julie Adamo of Mount Holyoke College. There will be a rigorous schedule of readings in gender and queer studies (with a focus on "third wave" feminism, Riot Grrrl, queer activism, intersectionality, and the ethics of subcultural research) as well as histories of zines and alternative publishing. While the bulk of our primary sources will be physical zines, our research methods will emphasize digital tools (Twine games, GIS mapping, timelines), and students will share research findings on an open access website. Interested students should equally be willing to dig through archival boxes and to learn some very basic coding. This is a Five College Digital Humanities course that is based at Hampshire but will frequently travel to other 5C campuses and sites. email firstname.lastname@example.org for details
In this course, we will read closely and write about a number of experimental, complex long-form comics by U.S.-based creators. The course has four objectives: to understand historically the curious genre of the "graphic novel" and its relation to both "literature" and "popular culture"; to become familiar with theoretical and critical debates about comics; to develop graphic analysis skills and practice them with frequent writing (and possibly drawing) assignments; and to examine how these graphic novels both challenge and reinforce conventional representations of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and class in the United States. Course assignments will include group discussions, weekly writing tasks, a midterm synthetic essay, and a final annotated bibliography project. Titles may include Lynda Barry's One! Hundred! Demons!, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, Kyle Baker's Nat Turner, Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, Jaime Hernandez's Heartbreak Soup, Paul Auster, Paul Karasik and David Mazzuchelli's City of Glass. This course assumes no previous knowledge of comics and graphic novels, but asks for curiosity and a spirit of engaged critique.