Jack Hamilton is an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies and the American Studies program. Hamilton has been researching the interplay of music and racial thought during the 1960s, exploring how rock ‘n’ roll music evolved from its interracial roots to being viewed as a “white” genre by the end of that decade. He is completing a book titled, “Rubber Souls: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination,” which is scheduled to be published by Harvard University Press. Hamilton earned his Ph.D. in American Studies at Harvard University and recently completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture.
I grew up in the greater Boston area—I spent my early childhood in Medford, Mass., and then my family moved to Lexington, where I went to high school.
I play music—mostly piano, organ, anything with keys. I also really enjoy playing and watching basketball. In general I like most things that allow me to be outside.
How did you spend this summer?
I actually spent all of June in Europe: Munich, London, Venice, and Amsterdam. About half the trip was work-related, the other half just sightseeing and visiting friends. Aside from that, moving to Charlottesville took up a fair amount of time and energy, but I also managed to get some writing done.
Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to hear.
Between the ages of 18 and 20, I was a full-time professional musician and toured the US and Europe with a blues/R&B/rock band.
Who is your greatest hero, and why?
I don't really know that I have a “hero” per se, but I really admire my parents a lot. I think whatever I know about how to be a good person, I learned from them.
Tell us about your most embarrassing moment.
There are too many contenders to list, but to choose one: when I was in 3rd grade, I was playing Little League baseball and hit a triple. I was very pleased with myself, but shortly after arriving at 3rd base I realized I had to go to the bathroom, quite badly. My teammates had some trouble driving me in, and an unfortunate accident happened.
What is the best place you’ve ever lived or visited, and why?
I spent a few weeks in Bali during the summer of 2006. That one is hard to top, about as close to paradise as I can imagine.
Thinking about the role of technology in education, what will the U.Va. learning experience be like in 2030?
While I'm sure professors and students will continue making new uses of technology both in and out of the classroom, I'm not sure the “learning experience” will change all that much in a significant sense. I think most of us in academia, whether students or professors, are here because we cherish the experience of being in the presence of other people, and learning alongside and from each other. I do hope that we all have environmentally sound robot cars to drive us to and from Grounds, though.
Since arriving, what have you most enjoyed most about Charlottesville and U.Va.?
I really like all my colleagues. Everyone has been extremely warm and welcoming. I've also really enjoyed exploring the town and getting to know a new place, especially one with so much to offer.
If money were no object, what else would you like to pursue?
I think I would travel a lot more, but aside from that I have pretty few complaints with my life as it currently is! I've always wanted to own a large boat, although Charlottesville probably wouldn't be the best place for that.
What advice would you give to incoming first-year students?
This sounds clichéd, but the best advice I can give is to be yourself, and stay true to who you feel you are and who you want to become. College doesn't last all that long, and you only get to do it once. Pursuing the things you love has a way of opening its own doors.