Print ISBN: 9780367540210
Online ISBN: 9781003090076
Language: English

Philosophy of Improvisation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Theory and Practice

Editors: Susanne Ravn, Simon Høffding and James McGuirk

Publisher: Routledge

Year: 2021

Book Description: This volume brings together philosophical and interdisciplinary perspectives on improvisation. The contributions connect the theoretical dimensions of improvisation with different viewpoints on its practice in the arts and the classroom.

The chapters address the phenomenon of improvisation in two related ways. On the one hand, they attend to the lived practices of improvisation both within and without the arts in order to explain the phenomenon. They also extend the scope of improvisational practices to include the role of improvisation in habit and in planned action, at both individual and collective levels. Drawing on recent work done in the philosophy of mind, they address questions such as whether improvisation is a single unified phenomenon or whether it entails different senses that can be discerned theoretically and practically. Finally, they ask after the special kind of improvisational expertise which characterizes musicians, dancers, and other practitioners, an expertise marked by the artist’s ability to participate competently in complex situations while deliberately relinquishing control.  

Philosophy of Improvisation will appeal to anyone with a strong interest in improvisation, to researchers working in philosophy, aesthetics, and pedagogy as well as practitioners involved in different kinds of music, dance, and theater performances. 


Aili Bresnahan

Associate Professor
University of Dayton

“We do not just improvise sometimes and in some domains but all the time, in multi-modal, online, and interactive ways. Or so this wonderful book claims in ways that are fully persuasive. This book on improvisation in thought, in life, in action, and in interaction in a wide variety of everyday, artistic, and social domains is a breath of inter- and transdisciplinary fresh air in a field that continues to grow and expand. It is required reading for improvisation scholars in philosophy, in the arts, in pedagogy, in sports, and in creativity studies in general.”

Keith Sawyer

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Improvisation is the defining feature of human social life and is the essence of creativity. This fascinating book contains chapters on music, dance, planning, the classroom, and social life. The unifying insight is that improvisation is always present in our everyday lives. This book will be essential reading for anyone concerned with improvisational action, collaboration, and creativity, including scholars in the arts, in sociology, and in philosophy.

James McGuirk's Bookshelf

Contributor: James McGuirk

Editors: Espen Dahl, Cassandra Falke, and Thor Eirik Eriksen

Routledge, 2019

Contributor: James McGuirk

Editors: Catrine Torbjørnsen Halås, Ingjerd Gåre Kymre and Kari Steinsvik

Gyldendal, 2017