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Think Pieces

An ICASP Special Project curated by University of Guelph PhD student, Mark Kaethler

Prelude (introducing a new dialogue)

This Prelude is an excerpt from the inaugural Think Piece, Improvisation and ... Think Pieces, which can be read in full here.

How can theories of improvisation re-imagine and redefine the roles of intellectuals? How can a theory be activated by an improvising subject and directed into tangible and meaningful action? What are the horizons of improvisation studies and why do they matter in contexts of crisis?

The Think Pieces project will explore the boundaries and borders of critical improvisation research as it engages with the social, political, and cultural issues that affect the lived lives of individuals around the globe. By bringing together the divergent voices of engaged writers and thinkers to ponder how improvisation provides novel insight into a deluge of problems, the Think Pieces project will offer a provocation to its readers: as improvisers/through improvisation, how and why do we think; how and why do we act? We intend to collect the voices and writings of scholars, activists, policymakers, creative practitioners, artists, and philosophers to debate what role improvisation plays in any number of topics – and any number of responses. Each month, a new Think Piece will be uploaded to the online home of the ICASP project to be shared, discussed, and debated.

Call For Think Pieces

We invite submissions of Think Pieces that range from 750-1250 words (approx.) and explore improvisation as it applies to different sites of theory, engagement, and practice. The papers can be creative or theoretical in nature, but should explore some aspect of improvisation and its possibilities for critical analysis, social action, and/or social belonging. A general format for the title of each piece should be as follows: “Think Piece: Improvisation and ______”. Papers do not need to be fully developed or scholarly in nature, and may seek to pose questions for future research. Submissions and questions should be directed to

Current Think Piece

Think Pieces 7: Improvisation and Birdman; or, the Unexpected Virtue of Irony - Mark Kaetheler

Previous Think Pieces

Think Pieces 6: Improvisation and Leapfrogging: The History of Improvisation in Toronto and the Episteme of the Twentieth Century - Mauricio Martinez

Think Pieces 5: Improvisation and Orientalism in the PRC - Tobin Chodos

Think Pieces 4: Improvisation and Interspecies Performance - Kimber Sider

Think Pieces 3: Tunes from Brainville: Improvised Jazz and/as Utopia - Greg Shupak

Think Pieces 2: Pedestrian Sundays and community well-being in Kensington Market, Toronto - Sophie Maksimowski

Think Pieces 1: Improvisation and ... Think Pieces

Musical improvisation is a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.

– Ajay Heble