From the Early Days to the Present
The arts at Hampden-Sydney have always enjoyed popular support, growing from informal cultural ventures to become a vital part of our curriculum. For example, theatrical events date back to the early days of the College:
The long history of musical performances at Hampden-Sydney began well before the Civil War (there is currently a bagpipe club, a guitar club, two small a cappella vocal groups, and numerous 'garage' bands on campus):
The visual arts have a historical association with the College as well:
The role of the Fine Arts Department, much as that of every other department on campus, began as that of a service discipline. Just as before the arrival of majors a department like English or Economics was intended simply to contribute to the overall liberal arts education of the well-rounded student, so the establishment of the Fine Arts Department was seen as providing a necessary part of that liberal arts experience, and one which, on this campus, had previously been left to instructors with dedication and ingenuity, but without sufficient professional training in the arts.
As the Fine Arts Department grew in its offerings, it became possible to consider the benefit to the College of offering a major. Taking the College's liberal arts tradition and the interdisciplinary nature of the Department to heart, a major was developed which took full advantage of the particular situation at Hampden-Sydney College.
The Fine Arts Major currently has an interdisciplinary core of 27 hours among history and studio courses in each of the three disciplines, together with a capstone course (FA 320, "Critical Issues in the Arts") and a thesis (FA 499, Thesis). In addition, there are six more hours usually taken in a concentration in theatre, music, or the visual arts, though it is possible to major without a concentration. As of 2010, the department also offers minors in Theatre and Visual Arts.
Dates and events for this brief history come from Bradshaw [the College's first published historian], Professor Hassell Simpson's recent "History of Theatre at Hampden-Sydney College," and Professor John Brinkley's history of Hampden-Sydney College, On This Hill: A Narrative History of Hampden-Sydney College.