SUNY Potsdam Hosts Seminar on Woody Guthrie & Folk Revival


Folk artist Woody Guthrie is the subject of a 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar for Faculty at SUNY Potsdam from June 5 to June 28.

Six scholars are spending the month studying the music, life and legacy of American folk musician Woody Guthrie at SUNY Potsdam, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

The 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar for Faculty is being hosted at SUNY Potsdam from June 5 to June 28. Guest scholar James Kimball, a lecturer of music at SUNY Geneseo, is the seminar leader.

Folk singer/songwriter and activist Guthrie was born 100 years ago, and the seminar is one of a number of events around the world focusing on his life and legacy. In addition to studying readings about and recordings of Guthrie, the seminar will include examination of folk music in social movements and the continuing influence the artist has had on other writers, poets and musicians.

Joining Kimball are five faculty members from the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, including:

• Jeremy van Blommestein, associate professor in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Sociology
• Lawrence Boyette, associate director of the SLU Global Francophone Program and lecturer for the First-Year Program at St. Lawrence University
• Bob Cowser, professor of English and a senior faculty associate for the Center for Civic Engagement at St. Lawrence University, Canton
• Kathleen Miller, associate professor of voice at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music
• Jay Pecora, associate professor in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance

“Guthrie was a true tradition bearer, as folklorists like to call it, one who brought songs and tunes of the past into the present, without the need to ‘citify’ or commercially arrange them. He was also a true folk poet who crafted hundreds of lyrics ranging from outlaw broadsides, dust bowl ballads, songs honoring the common man and labor songs, to personal love poems, satirical humor and children’s game songs,” Kimball said.

Through research, reflection and discussion with the seminar director and with colleagues in a group atmosphere, participants have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of their field and improve their ability to convey that understanding to others.

The seminar is hosted by SUNY Potsdam’s National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Development Program, which organizes annual summer seminars on interdisciplinary themes in the humanities for the benefit of faculty and professional staff at the four Associated Colleges of the North Country.

To find out more about the research, scholarship and creative work sponsored by the Office of the Provost at SUNY Potsdam, visit

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.