Improviser’s Classroom

Call for Papers: Edited Collection

The Improviser’s Classroom: Pedagogies of Adaptive Performance, Social Engagement, and Creative Practice

Co-edited by Daniel Fischlin and Mark Lomanno

Elaborating on the notion of “critical creative practice,” this volume celebrates the inter-referentiality of artistic performance, scholarship, and pedagogy and their value for instructing students on how to engage critically in a world that, while increasingly globalized and intersectional, is still characterized by trenchant social, political, and economic rifts. In addition to demonstrating the performative nature of research and teaching practices, the volume will highlight the unique perspectives that improvisers can offer their colleagues, students, and institutions, particularly in relation to trends towards experiential, interdisciplinary, and global learning models in higher education. While recent publications (e.g. Laver and Heble 2016; Lewis and Piekut 2016; Nettl and Solis 2009) continue to celebrate the value of improvisation in education, The Improviser’s Classroom foregrounds this relationship in a new way: by presenting a plurality of first-hand perspectives through interviews, written reflections, documents of artistic and linked pedagogical processes, and exemplary teaching materials––in addition to more traditional forms of scholarship that promote empathetic and inclusive engagement with difference, community-based collaborative work, and reciprocal exchanges of knowledge.

In response to multiple appropriations of improvisation to conform to neoliberal business models and even mindfulness practices (cf. Laver 2015), this volume insists on aesthetic politics and practices of improvisation rooted in the populations from which these practices have been claimed. We aim to decode and push back against rhetorics of mobility and adaptability in academic discourses on improvisation that reinforce existing economic, political, and relational inequities. Institutional imperatives that remove the varied practices and practitioners of improvisers while co-opting the language of improvisation to institutional norms will be examined and critiqued. At the same time we view this volume as an opportunity for practitioners to direct these conversations within higher education.

The volume emphasizes the connections improvisers see among their skills, ethical and activist positions, collaborative relationships, and performances and the larger institutional trends and goals under which these are in the process of being subsumed, if not appropriated. And we see the need for this sort of a volume as of especial importance in light of the current state of critical studies in improvisation and the launch of the first graduate program at the University of Guelph in that emergent discipline. What are the key elements at the heart of a teaching practice that truly engages with improvisation and its radical histories of practice and innovation? What determines the ethical framework for integrating these practices into meaningful teaching and research contexts where asymmetrical relations of power and practice are at stake? How can these practices be integrated on a wider scale through administrative acts such that those within institutional power structures who are either in productive disagreement or direct opposition to such asymmetrical relations can support, amplify, and disseminate work accomplished in the classroom?

Through contributions that address these issues the editors will highlight a diversity of improvisatory pedagogical practices, foregrounding perspectives from those marginalized by race, ethnicity, institutional position (or lack thereof), and/or discipline. An added goal of the volume will be to provide models of teaching practices across multiple disciplines in which improvisation is active. We are particularly interested in how improvisation facilitates the emergence of approaches in which research, performance, and pedagogy are interactive and cross-referential, while troubling orthodoxies of pedagogical practice and institutional imperatives around performance metrics and the like. The volume’s themes, then, will challenge normative assumptions about the conditions, locales, and personnel entailed in improvisatory performances and their connection to the scenes of teaching and learning. In this way, the collection will question the boundaries of both improvisation (beyond the performing arts) and the classroom (beyond institutions of higher education and their campuses).

We are open to work that focuses on other questions as well and authors interested in pursuing other related lines of inquiry and research should contact us directly. We strongly support alternative writing styles for the contents: from testimony and story, to course outlines and rationales for these converted into narrative, to manifesto-style statements that provoke, to actual practices/exercises arising from deep practitioner experience and / or cultural difference, alternative takes on what the classroom/scene of learning is, interviews with remarkable teacher/practitioners, and so forth. The intent of the volume is to speak of learning and teaching as a site of reciprocal engagement that engages heterodox and plural approaches where affect and intellect, discipline and risk-taking are cocreatively active.

To submit a chapter proposal for this edited collection please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Mark Lomanno ( and Daniel Fischlin ( We are looking for aggressively concise pieces with strong points of view and voicings that avoid the distanced, objective academic narrator and academic cant––that is, we are looking for essays, reflections, and testimonies that will compel, engage, provoke, and animate our readership.

The deadline for abstract submission is January 31, 2019.

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