Philosopher-Mechanic Matthew Crawford Opens RIT’s 2010-2011 Gannett Project

Series highlights connections among technologies, art, science and the humanities

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Matthew Crawford

Best-selling author, political philosopher and mechanic Matthew Crawford will open the Caroline Werner Gannett Project’s “Visionaries in Motion IV,” a unique speaker series hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology, featuring lectures, exhibitions, symposia and workshops by leading artists, thinkers and scholars in the arts, sciences and technologies.

Crawford will discuss “A Case for Working with Your Hands” at 8 p.m. Sept. 8 in RIT’s Webb Auditorium. He will also offer an interactive workshop with members of RIT’s award-winning mini-Baja team and with other students who have solved problems in building or reworking material objects. The workshop will be held 10-11 a.m. in RIT’s Machine Tool Laboratory, room 1270, in Louise M. Slaughter Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Crawford holds up to the almighty knowledge economy the skills, craft, self-reliance and risk-taking decisions that define manual competence,” notes Mary Lynn Broe, the Caroline Werner Gannett Professor of Humanities and director of “Visionaries in Motion.” “He lets us see that the experience of making and fixing things can be both intellectually demanding and central to the ways we express our individuality in a contemporary culture where we are often robbed of both qualities.”

Crawford, who earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, has garnered national notice for his efforts to restore ethical virtues and stature to the value of manual work. His 2009 book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, made The New York Times bestseller list and won the Border’s Original Voices Award for Nonfiction. Crawford is currently a fellow with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia and owns Shokoe Moto, a motorcycle repair and fabrication shop in Richmond, Va.

“Visionaries in Motion” explores new connections across technologies, social sciences and humanities, increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration both on campus and in the Greater Rochester community. In 2010, the series was selected as City newspaper’s Critics’ Pick for “Best Lecture Series in Rochester.”