Technologies of Turning Workshop, May 20-22, 2013 (Applications due March 18)

full name / name of organization: 
Harvard University, History of Art and Architecture/Harvard Art Museums
contact email: 

A PDF of the CFP (and workshop schedule) is available at

Technologies of Turning
An Exploration of Making and Meaning
May 20-22, 2014
Harvard University


Jennifer L. Roberts
Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
Ethan W. Lasser
Margaret S. Winthrop Associate Curator of American Art, Harvard Art Museums

Eligibility: current graduate students in any discipline

To Apply: send a CV and a short statement explaining your reasons for wishing to participate in the workshop to both and
Due: March 18, 2014, 5pm. Selected participants will be notified by March 25.

This workshop is the second in a new annual series focusing on processes of making in the fine, decorative, and industrial arts. The workshops will bring together faculty, artists, museum professionals, and graduate students for demonstrations, hands-on exercises, and discussion. Each day will combine instruction in historic techniques with the close analysis of related historic objects. One of the features that will differentiate this workshop from others like it is that it will include time for extensive discussion about the merits of bringing technical and artisanal knowledge into the historical and interpretive disciplines in a conceptually rigorous way.

Rather than focus on a specific medium or type of object, each workshop is organized around a single species of physical operation that cuts across multiple media and can also be evocatively transposed into cultural and theoretical dimensions.

This year we will concentrate on "turning." From the lathe to the spindle to the potter's wheel to the turntable, rotational dynamics sit at the heart of multiple mechanical and artisanal practices. The workshop will trace processes of turning through pottery throwing, textile production, and media playback and projection. What modes of thinking and approaches to materials link these processes? How have makers across time conceptualized working "in the round" and how might such modes of embodied making inform our understanding of the creative process? What are the implications of turning's intricate relationship to control in artisanal and industrial settings? How does turning engage with problems in programming, tacit knowledge, and automation?

Each participant will be expected to complete a short list of preliminary readings and to attend all portions of the workshop.

The workshop is organized by Americanists and will focus primarily on American material, but students in all fields are encouraged to apply. Lodging for four nights and most meals will be provided for selected participants. Participants will be responsible for supporting their own travel to and from Cambridge.