August 25, 2011
Sarah Hardy, Elliott Professor of English, has been named one of "The Most Creative Teachers in the South" by Oxford American magazine.
Listed along with professors ranging from Emory to Auburn to the University of the South, she is singled out for encouraging Hampden-Sydney College students to think about a variety of topics related to masculine identity. Her classes often start with her concession that she cannot claim the same kind of expertise on masculinity as her students can. "Instead, Hardy considers herself a guide [...] in the discussions of preconceived notions about traditional masculinity."
Hardy's Rhetoric 102 course on American Masculinities "examines American leaders in particular, and analyzes how their conceptions of masculinity informed their public actions. One of the more probing assignments comes when Hardy has the students reverse-engineer a projection of masculinity [in all-male organizations], such as the Boy Scouts, Freemasons, YMCA, or fraternities. In this way, her approach to teaching gender involves a historical examination of how masculinity has changed." Professor Hardy enjoys "complicating the picture" for her students and challenging their view of the world and themselves. "Hampden-Sydney should be an authoritative voice in gender/masculinity studies because of its culture; its students should be more expert than anyone," she says. "It's a cool type of laboratory. Masculinity should be an important part of the conversation at a single-sex college."