Enfilade

New Book | Craft: An American History

Posted in books by Editor on March 30, 2021

From Bloomsbury:

Glenn Adamson, Craft: An American History (London: Bloomsbury Publishing: 2021), 400 pages, ISBN: 978-1635574586, $30.

A groundbreaking and endlessly surprising history of how artisans created America, from the nation’s origins to the present day.

At the center of the United States’ economic and social development, according to conventional wisdom, are industry and technology-while craftspeople and handmade objects are relegated to a bygone past. Renowned historian Glenn Adamson turns that narrative on its head in this innovative account, revealing makers’ central role in shaping America’s identity. Examine any phase of the nation’s struggle to define itself, and artisans are there—from the silversmith Paul Revere and the revolutionary carpenters and blacksmiths who hurled tea into Boston Harbor, to today’s ‘maker movement’, from Mother Jones to Rosie the Riveter, from Betsy Ross to Rosa Parks, from suffrage banners to the AIDS Quilt.

Adamson shows that craft has long been implicated in debates around equality, education, and class. Artisanship has often been a site of resistance for oppressed people, such as enslaved African-Americans whose skilled labor might confer hard-won agency under bondage, or the Native American makers who adapted traditional arts into statements of modernity. Theirs are among the array of memorable portraits of Americans both celebrated and unfamiliar in this richly peopled book. As Adamson argues, these artisans’ stories speak to our collective striving toward a more perfect union. From the beginning, America had to be-and still remains to be-crafted.

Glenn Adamson’s books include Fewer, Better Things, The Invention of Craft, and The Craft Reader. His writings have also been published in museum catalogues and in Art in America, Antiques, Frieze, and other periodicals. He was previously director of the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, and has held appointments as Senior Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art, and as Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

C O N T E N T S

Introduction
1  The Artisan Republic
2  A Self-Made Nation
3  Learn Trades or Die
4  A More Perfect Union
5  American
6  Making War
7  Declarations of Independence
8  Cut and Paste
9  Can Craft Save America?

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

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