Critical and Creative Practices

“....theory ….has come to designate works that succeed in challenging and reorienting thinking in fields other than those to which they apparently belong. This is the simplest explanation of what makes something count as theory. Works regarded as theory have effects beyond their original field.”

—Jonathan Culler

While diverse in their teaching methodologies, Critical and Creative Practices faculty are united in the idea that making is a mode for critical and analytical thinking and cultural production. The area also emphasizes the ways creativity is vital to all integrative thinking, criticism and cultural production. In this sense we exhort students emphasizing the arts to seek rigorous, intellectual and disciplinary breadth and depth as necessary artistic strategy. And we encourage students interested in the humanities to understand theory as practice, as an intellectual form of producing knowledge.

The word critical addresses critique, analysis, , and questioning. It means reflecting on, and articulating, how one originates an idea, critiques it, includes/excludes sources, revises, and ultimately manifests synthesis and ideas into images, forms or stuff. Creative allows us to indicate the ways in which creative and critical thinking are interconnected and speaks to our shared interest in how to make and to analyze cultural production. Practice speaks to our insistence on both “writing as thinking” and “making as thinking.” We hope to address and break down resistance among students who perceive themselves as either “critical” or “creative,” and thus incapable of cultivating other modes of thought. We are interested in the varieties of ways students perceive, grapple with, and resolve questions and problems, how they see ideas in relation to each other and in relation to materials.

By offering programs and courses related to the theory and practice of cultural production that are tied to using creativity to pose complex questions about the world, students have interdisciplinary opportunities that focus on:

  • Skills in understanding the theories and histories associated with a range of disciplines
  • Skills in the “hands on” creative and research practice of a variety of disciplines
  • Skills in connecting one’s own creative and research practices with the histories and theories of those practices, and in creating connections between one’s own work and the broader world, such as Evergreen's Art Lecture Series
  • Opportunities to work with faculty on emerging and established research and creative projects

Our pedagogical foci reflect a commitment to Evergreen’s Five Foci and include:

  • Student-centered learning, which includes attention to issues of power and privilege;
  • Experiential learning, which includes involving students in our own scholarly and artistic work—for us, theory and practice are equal tools in a thinking person's intellectual tool box, and should be presented as such;
  • Foundational skill development (including skills needed to do good research, think analytically, and read both image and text critically);
  • Multi- and inter-disciplinary modes of inquiry, especially (but not exclusively) within various realms of cultural production such as creative writing, visual arts, media arts, scholarly writing, literary studies, etc.

We are committed to helping our students develop the following capacities:

  1. Technical, conceptual and formal knowledge of one or more field(s) of cultural production.
  2. Knowledge and understanding of histories and theories of one or more field(s) of cultural production.
  3. Capacity to reflect on the creative process and make connections between one's own work and relevant histories/theories.

We are particularly committed to exposing students to rigorous research as a central component of artistic practice. As artistic practice changes, Critical and Creative Practices provides faculty and students the opportunity to not only update arts and all education on campus, but to more fully and collaboratively disperse multiple intellectual skills across the arts and humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences.