Associate Professor of U.S. Literatures and Cultural Studies
Professor Hardesty’s courses explore the multiple literary cultures of the United States, in 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 such 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.
This course invites a series of guests to speak on topics related to contemporary Cuban culture and society, including US-Cuba relations; Cuban literature, theater, music, cinema, and visual art; racial dynamics; and gender and sexuality. Guest lecturers will teach primarily in Spanish, with translation when necessary. Past guest lecturers have included Rafael Rodriguez Beltran on Alejo Carpentier and contemporary Cuban literature, Zuleica Romay on race in Cuba, and Graciela Chailloux on US-Cuba relations. Between these lectures, students will complete readings, attended concerts and screenings, and visit museums related to the week's lecture; they will write weekly responses to share in the Cuba Project Seminar, and they will develop one response paper into a longer, formal essay. Classes will be taught in simple academic Spanish and English; students will be free to ask questions, make comments, and write in either language. Students are expected to spend at least six hours a week outside class completing readings and viewings, attending concerts and art exhibitions, and/or completing writing assignments for this course.
As the ability to communicate depends largely on a good understanding of the culture, this Spanish course attempts to enhance students' understanding, respect, and appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of Cuba. The course seeks to build students' colloquial language use, strengthening their ability to converse in daily life and on topics of interest such as social life, family, culture, art, race, gender, etc. Spanish instruction in Cuba relies on a combination of structured class time and daily informal exchange at the students' homestays. This combination provides the kinds of real life situations that will permit students to expand their vocabulary and practice grammar studied in class, and to develop comfort speaking the Spanish language. Students will be placed in specific classes according to their incoming level of Spanish; students with advanced levels or fluency will propose a language-related semester-long project commensurate to their ability. In class, students will focus on analyzing texts and film/video, building vocabulary, and engaging in conversation and discussion in Spanish on various topics. Students will occasionally visit museums, cultural sites, and performances; they will interact with invited speakers; and they will conduct small research projects on cultural and social topics.
This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, literary) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. We will critique and decenter the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in US popular and official culture, and we will examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., to its diaspora in Miami, and elsewhere. Students will write frequent short response essays and undertake a 12-15-page independent research paper that will include a proposal, draft, and revision. This course is open to all, though it is best suited to students beyond their first semester of study. The class will be conducted in English, with many readings available in Spanish and English. Papers may be submitted in either language. For students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana spring semester program, this course will offer critical foundational knowledge and application support. (Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended for non-fluent speakers considering the Hampshire in Havana program.)
In this course we will explore a set of cultural texts - a poem, a short story, a comic book, a film, a music video, a video game - in order to practice skills of close reading/looking, and exploratory/critical writing. We will ask, what is "culture," and where did the idea of "culture" come from? What do we mean when we say "pop culture" or "high culture"? How do the meanings of "culture" relate to ideas about race, gender, class, and ability? How does a cultural object create meaning with its form - its shape and composition? How do we investigate a cultural text in terms of its originality or its ability to play with the conventions of genre? How are cultural texts shaped by their authors, or by commercial interests? How is the meaning of a cultural text shaped by professional critics, or by fan communities? This course is best suited for students who want to gain foundational skills for studying and writing about culture.