American Arts and Crafts Movement Field Trip

I had the privilege to attend An American Look: Fashion, Decorative Arts & Gustav Stickley at the Everson Museum downtown with the rhetorics of craft collaborative (our seminar course on techne and rhetorics of craft with the wonderful Dr. Krista Kennedy). The exhibit showcased a collection of elegant, simple handcrafted pieces of clothing, pottery (some of which reminded me of Pewabic Pottery from Detroit), and Stickley furniture representative of the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 20th century. Syrcause, which was headquarters to Stickley’s company and The Craftsman magazine, was one of the seminal cities in the movement. The focus of the Arts and Crafts movement was on good design that regarded the relationship between the form and the use of the object.

In class we have read a number of texts – from a base in ancient rhetorics through Plato and Aristotle on techne, Kelly Pender’s thoughtful account of techne’s presence in the development of rhetoric and composition as a discipline in her book Techne: From Neoclassicism to Postmodernism, and currently John Sennett’s account of craftsmanship in The Craftsman – that are working to serve as a basis to explore the value and ethics of craft, the craftsman, and craftsmanship and how these concepts might illuminate composition and rhetoric as craft in making (and in making as action beyond use as metaphor).


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