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McGill Reading Group

The McGill Reading Group typically meets every other Friday from 10:30-12:30 in the 3rd floor seminar room below where the IICSI-McGill offices are, 3465 Peel St. For questions or to have your name added to the listserv, please contact

Friday, April 10, 2015: 10:30-2:30, 3465 Peel St, 3rd Floor Seminar Room

For the final meeting of this semester's Improvisation Studies reading group, this Friday we will discuss a video of a lecture by Terence McKenna, "Opening the Doors of Creativity" (available here), as well as an article by Richard Pettengill, "Performing Collective Improvisation: The Grateful Dead's 'Dark Star" (here). The video of the performance that Pettengill primarily focuses on is available here starting at 1:45. I also hope that the our discussion of these two pieces will blend into a broader discussion of what we might take from away from our various readings this year.

Please come early for conversation, biscotti and the best coffee on campus! I hope to see you there.

Friday, March 27, 2015: 10:30-12:30, 3465 Peel St.

This will be a joint meeting with the IPLAI reading group that Illa has been running this semester so we will hopefully have plenty of voices and perspectives to hear and engage with!

In the next edition of the Improvisation Studies reading group we'll be reading two pieces suggested by IICSI postdoctoral fellow Illa Rodriguez:

  • Al-Saji, Alia. “Creating Possibility: The Time of the Quebec Student Movement.” Supplement of Theory & Event 15.3 (2012): n. pag. Web. [Attached]
  • Auyero, Javier. “Contested Memories.” Contentious Lives. Two Argentine Women, Two Protests, and the Quest for Recognition. By Javier Auyero. Durham: Duke UP, 2003. 172-90. Print.

Al-Saji’s essay and Auyero’s ethnography examine the multiple temporalities, individual and collective memories, and modes of political subjectivation that emerged in the course of two mobilizations that have come to be associated with spontaneous, non-hierarchical, non-teleological forms of collective action: the 2012 unlimited general strike in Quebec and the 1993 Santiagazo, “an uprising that shook the northwest Argentine city of Santiago del Estero, and the whole country, on December 16, 1993” (Auyero 1). Many contemporaneous media narratives portrayed the Santiagazo as the local expression of an international protest movement against neoliberal “adjustment” policies.

So one of the things that improvisation has come to mean in the context of highly technological performance is that improvisation is the last claim to the legitimate presence of a human in the performance of music.

– Bob Ostertag