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The Centre for Humanities Innovation

Collective Improvisations

This page is devoted to the art of intellectual improvisation and to the experiments in the communicative generation of new ideas. Experiments in collective improvisations began in Moscow (Russia) in 1982 and continued in the USA since 1996.

Collective improvisation is an experiment in communicative generation of new ideas. Members of the group (usually from 5 to 10) propose topics, of which one is chosen by vote. An hour or so is devoted to individual writing on this topic, followed by individual reading and group discussion of each essay. Participants should be prepared to improvise on any topic, including the trivia of everyday life, from the standpoint of their professional discipline, personal experience or philosophical worldview. They are also invited to become specialists in alternative, virtual or non-existent disciplines.

This improvisational session is what might be called an intellectual assault on everyday things. It can also be identified with the task Richard Rorty has set for thinkers of the future: to be "all purpose intellectuals . . . ready to offer a view on pretty much anything, in the hope of making it hang together with everything else."

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