Department of Anthropology

Alessandro Duranti - Seminar Series 2010-2011

Mon, January 31, 2011 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

“Improvisation: Degrees of Creativity and Social Control Across Cultural Contexts”

Building on data collected during the course "The culture of jazz aesthetics" (that I teach with Kenny Burrell at UCLA - and extensive participant-observations and video recordings of contexts in which musical or verbal improvisation is practiced and sometimes discussed, I identify a number of universal dimensions of improvisation and provide examples that demonstrate that improvisation (a) is ubiquitous and (b) regulated by culture and context-specific expectations on degrees of tolerance vs. encouragement for variation and creativity. Drawing from work carried out in collaboration with Steven P. Black, I distinguish between flexibility and improvisation and examine verbal play as an activity in which improvisation is practiced and evaluated aesthetically and ethically.

A light lunch will be served.

Part of the Department of Anthropology 2010-2011 Seminar Series. For further information, please contact Dr. Sofian Merabet at

*The SAC, or Student Activity Center, is a new building on campus and may not be marked on your map. It is located at 2101 Speedway, adjacent to the Gregory Gym. SAC 5.118 is in the East Wing of the building on the fifth floor.

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