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.
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 email@example.com 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.
At the time of the historic fall of the Berlin wall-a symbol of the collapse of the so called Socialist Bloc-Cuban cinema was going through a period of renovation and change. Practically born with the Revolution in 1959, in the 30 years that elapsed between both events, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art, ICAIC developed an important film industry, and trained a seasoned crew of directors and technicians which allowed it to rank among the top film industries of Latin America. However in the last years of the 1980s, ICAIC was criticized for the uneven quality of its productions. As a result, new styles, themes, and approaches, albeit timid, began to be introduced. During the severe economic crisis of the 90s, known as the "Special Period," film production plummeted. As a result of budgetary cuts, the historical ICAIC newsreel was eliminated and there was a dramatic reduction in the production of documentaries. During the Special Period, ICAIC was forced to readjust its productions and began making co-productions as a way to preserve the national cinema. In these coproductions, new critical themes with fresh cinematic approaches flourished. As well given new technologies the 90s witnessed the beginning of a period of new cinematographic or audiovisual projects made outside ICAIC by young filmmakers who profit from new digital technologies to film their own ideas. In this course we will examine the polemic and diverse Cuban films made on the island after 1991, which for the first time were not solely produced by ICAIC. Among our main objectives: 1. Sociological: to examine how the Cuban films made in the 1990s-institutionally or privately--have reflected the changes on the island after the collapse of the Socialist Bloc. 2. Thematic: to present how Cuban films of the period addressed a wide spectrum of social conflicts and topics such as emigration, family issues, sexuality, existential problems, and the social crisis. 3. Stylistic: to analyze the diversity of styles and influences utilized by Cuban filmmakers. Cuban cinema is very diverse stylistically and has incorporated the most recent technologies, as well as new production, distribution and exhibition requirements.
The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts (ICAIC), founded in March 1959, has not encouraged the presence of women filmmakers. It is worth mentioning how in recent Cuba history women's access to public space has been viewed as a revolution within the revolution, yet the film industry has reproduced the distribution of roles assigning women traditional occupations including makeup, wardrobe, performance and editing. The course will look at the causes for the poor representation of women filmmakers in Cuban cinema in order to document their access to this trade. Their films will, in turn, expose the visualization of gender themes and in doing so it will be possible to determine if there is indeed a woman's cinema with a woman's aesthetics and narrative discourse. The existence of a corpus of films made by women does not necessarily mean that there is a feminine perspective as many of these films have been made within a cinematographic canon based on a discriminatory construct. In order to understand the irruption of women directors on the island's cinema it is necessary to rethink that canon and widen the concept of Cuban cinema made outside ICAIC, and look at other production companies lacking perhaps in the industry skills but which have been equally instrumental in giving women access to filmmaking. Thus, the Estudios Filmicos of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and Television have facilitated the entrance of some prominent women filmmakers to cinema. In addition, the course will analyze the representation of women characters in films as well as feminine-related topics in contemporary Cuban cinema. Despite their protagonist role, women's screen representation still reproduces gender stereotypes. The course will have three main objectives: 1. Sociological: to analyze the poor representation of women behind the cameras and the social issues addressed in their work. 2. Thematic: To examine the themes which define the cinema made by women filmmakers in Cuba as well as its most important discursive lines. 3. Stylistic: To study the dual nature of the cinematographic language as a mechanism to discuss gender issues while reproducing sexist discourses.
As the ability to communicate depends largely on a good understanding of the culture, the Spanish course attempts to enhance students understanding, respect and appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of Cuba. The course tries to build the students' ability of language use, especially at a colloquial level, as well as on topics of daily conversation and current interest such as social life, family, culture, art, race, gender etc. The combination of Spanish classes and daily exchange at the students' home stays helps to provide the kind of language interaction in a real life situation that will permit them to expand the vocabulary and grammar studied in class and to develop some comfort speaking the Spanish language. Classes will focus on analyzing written articles, increasing vocabulary and having conversation and discussion in Spanish on various topics. Speakers will be invited to talk about their work. Documentary films and videos will be shown. Students will occasionally visit museums, cultural sites and performances and conduct small investigations on a cultural and social topic.