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.
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.
In this introductory-level course we will explore the genealogies of underground, alternative, independent, and radical comics in the United States since the 1960s, focusing on how unconventional comics relate to ideas about popular culture, underground cultures, and politics of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Course readings will include comics in a number of short formats (comic books, minicomics, one-panel cartoons, and webcomics), as well as critical, historical, and theoretical readings. We will make extensive use of the digital Underground and Independent Comics Database. Students will complete weekly reading responses, write two short papers, participate in a primary source research project, and build and revise three annotated bibliographies of future readings.
This course will examine a number of texts (novels, essays, short stories, poems, film, comics) which shaped-and contested-the notion of the United States as an empire from the mid-1850s until the early 2000s, while also complicating the notion of a nationally bound American literary canon. We will read chronologically, with readings clustered around a number of touchstones: western colonial settlement; the Spanish-American Wars; the World Wars; the Bandung conference; the Vietnam Wars; the Cuban Revolution; the Central American wars; and the "War on Terror." Authors will include Mark Twain, Henry James, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Paul Bowles, Gloria Anzaldua, and more. Students will write frequent reading responses, co-facilitate discussion, complete two short papers, and undertake an independent research paper that will include a proposal, annotated bibliography, draft, and revision. This course is best suited for second and third year students with some background in U.S. literature and cultural studies.
This course explores United States literatures from the post-World War II period to the present. We will traverse a range of literary forms (prose, poetry, essay, drama, comics), movements (e.g., postmodernism, Black Arts), and periods (e.g., the Cold War, the Vietnam era, the post-9/11 period). The 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. The goals of the course are 1) to familiarize students with both canonical and counter-canonical literary figures, trends, and texts; and 2) to practice skills of close reading and contextualized analysis. In additional, students will write short essays, complete a team-based primary source research project, and create an annotated bibliography project. Authors include Flannery O'Connor, James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Frank O'Hara, Thomas Pynchon, Amiri Baraka, June Jordan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Pedro Pietri, Gloria Anzaldua, Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace, Lynda Barry, and more.
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