Senior Profile: Max Hardman

Senior ProfileMaximillian (Max) Hardman is an English major and French minor who has worked at the Clarice since his first semester at UMD.

Why did you decide to become an English major?

My intention was always for my undergrad degree to be primarily about developing myself and my interests, rather than about a career. I wanted to study the humanities in general, and English felt like a good way to tie them all together in one discipline.

What clubs, campus groups, internships, outside of class projects have you been involved with? Do you have any leadership roles in these groups?

I’ve been working at the Clarice since my first semester at UMD, which has been a fantastic experience. I did a lot of theatre tech in high school, and at the beginning of my freshman year I went to the Clarice to volunteer in any capacity I could. They told me they didn’t take volunteers and hired me instead. I’ve worked on a couple of different crews over there, and have been a crew lead since my sophomore year. It’s a great on-campus job because it’s pretty fun, the work varies a lot, the people are great, and the hours are incredibly flexible.

I was also the Russian Mentor at the Language House my sophomore year, which was one of my best experiences at UMD. Over the past couple of years, I’ve done a different video internship in DC every semester, except for last spring when I was studying abroad in Montreal. I also played intramural soccer for a few semesters, which was a great time.

What has been your favorite class in English and why?

I’ve taken a lot of great classes, so it’s hard to pick one, but I might have to go with one I took during my first semester: Shakespeare (ENGL 206) with Jeffrey Griswold. It’s a lower-level survey course, and isn’t really even targeted at English majors, but that actually helped it stand out from a lot of other classes I took in the department. It was a small group, so we got to know each other pretty well over the course of the semester and we had a lot of great discussions. I feel like it can also be kind of hard to teach Shakespeare in a way that feels fresh yet not too out-there, and Jeff did an absolutely incredible job.

What is something you read during class that impacted your worldview?

I took a really great seminar on T. S. Eliot that was impactful in a number of ways. There aren’t a lot of courses that focus only on one particular writer, but I really enjoyed the structure of reading all of one person’s published work chronologically. Not only did it really highlight how he grew and developed as a writer over the course of several decades, but I think that was the first time that I really and viscerally understood the idea of beautiful language. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but I don’t think I ever truly internalized it until then.

What skills (professional, creative or other) do you think you’ve gotten from the major?

The most important skill I’ve developed in the English department has been my communication. I’ve discussed and argued countless topics in class, and written more essays I can recall about a similarly wide range of ideas. I remember being in high school and being assigned my millionth five-paragraph essay when I realized that I’d gotten so used to writing in that format that I could crank one out almost effortlessly in fifteen minutes. The English major has given me the opportunity to write about a huge number of concepts and topics from any angle I wanted, and this has helped me become a lot better at crafting arguments and verbalizing my thoughts.

What is your dream job or career?

The dream has always been to end up in the film/television industry. I’ve worked on a bunch of student films and music videos as well as on a couple of bigger productions in a wide range of roles, but I’d ultimately like to end up directing one day. I came into UMD intending to try a bunch of different things to see if anything else grabbed my attention, but film is what stuck.

What are you passionate about (or even curious about)?
A lot of my life seems to have revolved around the arts in some way or another. I’ve been into photography since high school, but in the past couple of years I’ve become a lot more serious about it. I’m into theatre and performance. I’m obviously pretty big on film. I’ve also loved soccer since I was a kid.

To you, what has been the most valuable part of the English major?

There are a lot of good things to say about the English major at UMD, but I think what I’ve always valued most is the department’s flexibility and willingness to work with students in pretty much any situation. Professors are always open to students trying new ideas such as alternate topics for essays, or projects like graphic novels or short films.

If you’re passionate about an idea and it makes sense in context of the course, they’ll go great lengths to work with you to make it a possibility. I’ve also had professors make time in their busy schedules to meet with me, even when I wasn’t their student. It definitely feels like the faculty is there for the students, which I find is not always the case in other departments.