Kathryn Dudley will be coming to speak in the Seminar in New York & American Material Culture, Wednesday, December 2, 2009 on: “The Artisanal Guitar: Craft and Community in a Neoliberal Age.”

Dr. Dudley is currently a Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University, where she has been since 2002. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. From 1993 to 2002 she was the Assistant to Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University.

Professor Dudley is the author of many publications. Most recently: “What is a Family?”, the afterward to Changing Landscapes of American Work and Family: Reports from the Field, eds. Elizabeth Rudd and Laura Descartes (Lexington Books, 2008). She published Debt and Dispossession: Farm Loss in America’s Heartland, University of Chicago Press, in 2002 and The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America, University of Chicago Press, in 1994. In 2004 she produced a documentary video titled, Black Land Loss in the Rural South. She has received many awards and honors including The Margaret Mead Award in 2000 and the Harry Chapin Media Award for Best Book, in 1995.

Over the past 40 years, there has been a renaissance of artisanal guitarmaking in North America. Originating in the folk music revival and counter-cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s, interest in the hand-crafted acoustic steel-string guitar has grown into an international luxury market driven by collectors, musicians, dealers, and a grassroots lutherie movement. Based on ethnographic research in the guitar world, I explore the cultural predicament of the artisan—and the artisanal object—caught between artistic and commodity forms of production and consumption under neoliberal capitalism. I suggest that the tactical deployment of craft knowledge allows guitarmakers to create, against the prevailing market logic, an ethical approach to work and community.

Please join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a light reception before the talk.