Photo of University Hall
Creative Research Center

Welcome to COLLABORATIONS! Charlotte Kent, CRC Guest Editor

Posted in: Guest Essay

Tim Kent, Deterritorialization 2015 (oil on canvas, 80x100 in)

Before I go one step further, let me say how very delighted I am to be Guest Editor for the Creative Research Center in 2019, its tenth anniversary year.

I am writing at the end of the summer, reading a book titled How to Do Nothing, thinking about the semester ahead. The book quotes David Abram from Becoming Animal: an Earthly Cosmology, who wrote “do we really believe that the human imagination can sustain itself without being startled by other shapes of sentience?“

My cat, a floppy tabby described by my vet as a bit of a fatso, occasionally looks up at me and meows, and so it is that this quote by Abram resonated. This feline creature is my companion in the many hours when I am reading and writing and thinking. I often ask him questions and perhaps it is his lack of answers that allow me to find my own.

I came to the topic of COLLABORATIONS during a year when I found myself collaborating as I had never before. Or so I had thought. Mulling over the articles, projects, and even book ideas that have developed with various colleagues made me realize that collaboration has been a larger part of my intellectual life than I might have realized. While working in theater or publishing, prior to graduate school and academia, nothing would have been possible without the efforts of each person. What might my dissertation have been without the pointed questions of friends and advisors? And as I was working on various joint ventures last year, I was, also, suffering through the experience of a mismatched collaboration, one that ended not soon enough.

Such a broad interest in COLLABORATION inspires the essays you will find in the weeks to come from colleagues within the university as well as creative minds beyond MSU confines. They will share collaborations across friendships and books, ones that stuck together and dissipated, as well as those specific to medicine, politics, art, literature, and more.


A creative life is often conceived as the lone artist, striving for perfection, away from society; but, in fact, many artists collaborate with others across the arts. The performing arts require collaborations across different talent sets. Although science seems to celebrate individual achievements, many scientists work together in labs, sharing hypotheses and failures as they aim to unravel a puzzle. An academic life is notoriously deemed lonely, but many of our best ideas come from conversations with colleagues. Scholarly writing often involves multiple editors whose feedback encourages exploration about what they had been ignoring. We invite people to share an experience of creative collaboration, whether working with others consistently throughout a project, being inspired by and wrangling with another’s ideas, developing something someone else started, bouncing possibilities off someone, or any number of other experiences. We further recognize that collaborations are challenging and sometimes the most creative result is learning something about oneself. Unsuccessful collaborations are sometimes creative opportunities. Collaborations also mean different things across cultures; collabo in French, for example, has negative connotations, and so the notion must be communicated differently. Across time, each discipline has a different relationship to collaboration.

We invite emails sharing knowledge, experience, histories, humor, warnings, and wisdom about the act of COLLABORATION, and look forward to hearing from you: