Dr. Hansen teaches literature and seminar.
BardVERSE: What’s easiest for you when creating an essay? What is more challenging?
Dr. Hansen: The original idea for an essay usually comes to me while reading, and seems to just pop into my head in the form of, “Oh, this is a really interesting sentence / paragraph / scene in this thing that I’m reading. This passage reminds me of other things that I have read in the past. I could connect them in an essay.” Of course, it feels easy, but it’s not magic. Ideas connect themselves in my head while I’m reading a new book because when I read all those other books in the past, I read them carefully, even though I didn’t know that I would ever “need” them for an essay.
BardVERSE: What advice do you have for writers at Bard?
Dr. Hansen: Read. Widely and deeply. Read as much as possible of as many different things as you can get your hands on. Writing without reading would be like trying to build a house without wood or nails. That sounds painful and frustrating, and I wouldn’t want to try it.
BardVERSE: Is there a place or time you usually write?
Dr. Hansen: I write well in two times and places. The first is around other people who are also working hard. When I was in college, I found this environment in the big open rooms in libraries, where there might be fifty people quietly studying for all sorts of different classes. The sounds of other people turning pages, dragging highlighters across passages, and clicking away on a keyboard blurs into white noise and helps me concentrate on my own work. Oddly, the other time and place is all by myself, very late at night, when I feel like I might be the only person awake in the whole city, and I have all of the quiet to myself.
BardVERSE: How do you come up with an imaginative, provocative title?
Dr. Hansen: Sarcasm.
BardVERSE: Which character you’ve read at Bard fascinates you most and why?
Dr. Hansen: Perhaps Marlow, in Heart of Darkness. I’m fascinated by his emotional detachment from everything.