Jerome Rothenberg spoke as part of the 2017 seminar program on Writing Through: Translation and Othering as Forms of Composition.

Our Next Seminar

Creativity and calculative action: seminar with Kate Stevens, Richard Garner & Jason Tuckwell

Friday 6 December 2019
11:00am  – 12:30pm

moderated by Dr Kate Fagan

Location: Female Orphan School, conference room 1, EZ.G.23, Parramatta South Campus, Western Sydney University(Corner of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road, Rydalmere)

The secularization of modern thought famously put pressure on notions of a transcendent source for creativity. On this account, creativity had its locus in a divine, essential and immaterial donation. Most famously, this culminated in twentieth century post-structuralist and post-modern critiques that brought notions of authorship, genius and intentionality into question.

More recently, there has been a revival of interest in creativity, creative processes and practices. In this return, rather than a donation from without or an epiphenomena reducible to deterministic processes, creativity now appears to be a fundamental aspect of cognition and reasoning for humans and non-humans, alike. As such, creativity appears more as a synthetic or emergent property, inseparable from thinking, acting and doing. This seminar will consider these new understandings of creativity, addressing a diverse array of interdisciplinary perspectives—from neuroscience, psychology, mathematics and logic—to directly reconsider or provide resources for thinking again about creative practice and artistic production.

Professor Kate Stevens, Director of MARCS at Western Sydney University, will address her pioneering work with The Australian Dance Theatre on creative decision making and improvisation in music and dance performance. Dr Richard Garner, a category theorist in the mathematics department at Macquarie University, will challenge the formalism uncritically applied to mathematical praxis, and draw out the intuitive and creative processes central to theorizing pure mathematics. Dr Jason Tuckwell from Western Sydney University will discuss how creativity is central to technique, via logician Charles Peirce. Peirce argued that abductive reasoning was not only responsible for the creativity of scientific reasoning, but a non-specific creative force, driving evolutionary development.

The session will be moderated by Dr Kate Fagan, literary theorist, poet and artist, who will bring her multidisciplinary research and experience as an artistic practitioner to reflect on the discussion.


KATE STEVENS, a cognitive scientist, is Director of MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour & Development at Western Sydney University. MARCS Institute investigates humans interacting with each other, their environment, and with technology. Kate’s research investigates the psychological processes in creating, perceiving, and performing music and dance, and human factors in human-machine interaction. She is author of more than 120 journal articles and book chapters. Kate is Editor-in-Chief, ‘Music Perception’ (University of California Press), Professor in Psychology, and incoming STEM Cluster Pro Vice-Chancellor at Western (;; @KateStevArtsSci).

RICHARD GARNER is a senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Macquarie University. He received his PhD from Cambridge in 2006 and held a research fellowship there, and an EU Marie Curie fellowship in Uppsala, before moving to Macquarie in 2010 to join its internationally renowned research group, the Centre of Australian Category Theory. Since then, he has been an ARC Australian Research Fellow, and is currently a Future Fellow; in 2017 he was awarded the Medal of the Australian Mathematical Society for distinguished research in the mathematical sciences.

JASON TUCKWELL teaches literature and theory at Western Sydney University. His research interests include Aristotle, Continental Philosophy, aesthetics and technology, with a particular focus upon problems of creative and technical praxes. He has recently published a monograph, Creation and the Function of Art: Technē, Poiesis and the Problem of Aesthetics (Bloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy, 2017).

KATE FAGAN is a Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies within the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, and a member of the WSU Writing and Society Research Centre. She founded the WSU Poetry and Poetics Project within the Centre, and co-directs it with Dr Ben Etherington. She is a former Editor-in-Chief of How2, the established U.S.-based journal of contemporary and modernist innovative poetry and poetics. Her current research interests include contemporary poetry and poetic theory; Australian poetry and literature; experimental poetics and narratologies; critical theorisation of links between poetic form and ontology; and crossings between poetics and contemporary music. She was a co-convenor of the 2016 'Active Aesthetics: Contemporary Australian Poetry' Conference at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an internationally recognised poet and songwriter whose third collection of poetry First Light (Giramondo, 2012) was short-listed for both the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and The Age Book of the Year Award. Her album Diamond Wheel won the National Film and Sound Archive Award for Folk Recording. Current research projects include an extended study of Aboriginal poet Ali Cobby Eckermann; research into the poetics of archives; a book-length manuscript of poems called Song in the Grass; a collection of essays on contemporary Australian poetry and poetics; and a co-edited collection of essays emerging from the "Active Aesthetics" conference (with Dr Ann Vickery, Deakin U).

All welcome. RSVP Ms Suzanne Gapps (

Our seminars are free and open to visitors from outside the university. If you want to come along to one of our seminars simply RSVP by sending an email to indicating which seminar you wish to attend.

The Parramatta South campus is accessible by public transport including University shuttle bus. See the Getting to uni page for more details.

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