Dean of Humanities and Arts and 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 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.
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.
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. Find more information on the program.
What does international education look like in the wake of a pandemic, especially between nations-the U.S. and Cuba-where political borders are as difficult to traverse in digital space as in physical space? These questions sparked the creation of "La Habana Virtual/Virtual Havana: intercambio y conversacion en la pandemia" (cultural exchange and conversation in a time of pandemic) is an intensive seminar, supported by Hampshire College's 23-year-old Cuba exchange program. This seminar will immerse participants in the past and present of Cuba, with a focus on the capital city of Havana. This seminar is co-facilitated by Michele Hardesty at Hampshire and Roberto Garcia Suarez in Havana, and conducted in conversational Spanish with interpretation as needed. Readings, videos, and writing/speaking assignments will be in Spanish and English. The seminar features a suite of videos produced in Havana for this course. These videos, as well as live virtual conversations with the intellectuals, educators, activists, performers, filmmakers, and artists who created them, will give students a critical framework for understanding Havana, as well as weekly opportunities for Spanish practice. As the main project of the semester, student teams will collaborate with community partners in Cuba to contribute to the La Habana Virtual StoryMap, and they will present their work at the end of the semester. We strongly encourage students to have at least an intermediate college-level of Spanish to enroll. Students who need extra language support will be expected to attend online language lab sessions once a week. Five College students are welcome. Non-Five College students and community members are eligible to register for a fee depending on space availability. For questions and more information, please contact email@example.com. This seminar counts as the prerequisite for the Hampshire in Havana semester study abroad program. Keywords: Spanish, Cuba, Latin America, history, culture
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This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, sociological, literary, cultural) to study the complex and contested reality of Cuba. The course will begin by critiquing and decentering the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in U.S. popular and official culture. The first part of the course will focus on revolutions that have defined the nation in the context of colonialism and neocolonialism: the impact of the Haitian Revolution on colonial Cuba; the forging of cubanidad in the late-19th century revolutions for independence from Spain; and the victory of the 1959 Cuban Revolution that defied U.S. neocolonial power. From there, we will examine how intersecting constructions of race, gender, and sexuality have defined the Cuban after the 1959 revolution, during the Special Period, and more recently. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S. government, to the international Left, and to its diaspora. 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. Additionally, 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.) (keywords: Latin American studies, history, cultural studies, literature, Cuba Exchange)