Intensive seminar: “Creative culture: Innovations in Society, History, and the Human Mind”

Guest lecturer: Prof. Jaan Valsiner
Date: November 21–22, 2019
Location: Tallinn University, Astra building, room A-447


This intensive seminar invites Ph.D. and M.A. students in various fields of cultural research to discuss together with Prof. Jaan Valsiner (Centre of Cultural Psychology, Aalborg University), one of the most original and influential cultural psychologists of our time, the current issues of culture, innovation and creativity. The seminar has the goal of looking at processes of innovation within human societies through the angle of one of the traditions of cultural psychology—Cultural Psychology of Semiotic Dynamics, developed by Jaan Valsiner over three decades (Valsiner, 1998, 2007, 2014, 2019). The seminar will concentrate on the ways in which everyday innovations in ordinary living in urban environments indicate both macro-social and micro-psychological potential transformations of meaning structures that become central for history in any society. The seminar includes a one-night fieldwork in the urban macro-environment of the city and discussion of the potentials of the method of flash ethnography for all participating disciplines.

Tallinn University, Astra building, room A-447


Day 1 (Thursday, November 21)
10.00–10.30 Introduction. Getting to know one another
10.30–11.30 LECTURE: General processes of innovation: how to go beyond the information given (Jaan Valsiner)
11.30–10.45 Coffee break
11.45–12.45 LECTURE: Generalization in human minds and histories of societies (Jaan Valsiner)
12.45–14.00 Lunch break (Kohvik Oaas, Terra building 1st floor)
14.00–15.30 SEMINAR What can cultural psychology of semiotic dynamics provide for the study of history, society, and culture?
15.30–15.45 Coffee break
15.45–17.00 PREPARATION FOR FIELDWORK: The method of flash ethnography


Day 2 (Friday, November 22)
10.00–11.30 SEMINAR Presentation and discussion of fieldwork results.
11.30–11.45 Coffee break
11.45–12.45 LECTURE Mythopoetic functions of ordinary urban living (Jaan Valsiner)
12.45–14.00 Lunch break (Kohvik Oaas, Terra building 1st floor)
14.00–15.30 SEMINAR Realities of interdisciplinary research: building and destroying borders between disciplines in the sciences and the humanities
15.30–15.45 Coffee break
15.45–17.00 Conclusions, future collaboration discussion, and farewell words


Requirements for participation
Interested graduate students (maximum 25) can apply for the seminar by the following online registration form

Application deadline: November 15, 2019. You will be notified of your participation by November 18, 2019.
Students are expected to do preparatory reading in order to participate in the discussions.

special offer for the course participants by the Tallinn University Press – “Between Self and Societies”  by Jaan Valsiner can be purchased with a special price 15 EUR from the TLU Infocenter on the first floor of Astra building (opened daily 10:00-16:00).

Upon full participation in the seminar, students will be awarded 2 ECTS points. The language of the seminar is English.

Participation in the course is free of charge; the accommodation and travel costs of the students of GSCSA will be reimbursed. Please note that you are required to let organisers know if you have registered but are unable to participate!

Contact: info_ktkdk@tlu.ee


Readings for the seminar (compulsory)

  • Valsiner, J. (2017). Retrospect 6: From prediction to construction: anticipatory semiogenesis. In: M. Raudsepp (ed.), Jaan Valsiner: Between self and societies—Cultural psychology in a new key (pp. 317–324). Tallinn: Tallinn University Press.
  • Valsiner, J. (2018). Roots of creativity: Variability amplification through persistent imitation. In: T. Zittoun and V.-P. Glaveanu (Eds), Handbook of imagination and culture (pp. 47–60). New York: Oxford University Press
  • Tateo, L., and Marsico, G. (2019). Framing a theory of ordinary and extraordinary in cultural psychology. In: G. Marsico and L. Tateo (eds). Ordinary things and their extraordinary meanings (pp. xi-xxix), Vol 2. Annals of Cultural Psychology. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers.
  • Lehmann, O. (2019). The poetic resonance of an instant. In: G. Marsico and L. Tateo (eds). Ordinary things and their extraordinary meanings (pp. 53–75), Vol 2. Annals of Cultural Psychology. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers.
  • Valsiner, J. (2019). Cultural psychology as a theoretical project/ La psicologia cultural como proyecto teórico. Estudios de Psicologia, 40, 1, 10–47.

All texts (pdfs) are  will be provided
All readings are available here (password for the reading materials will be provided after registration).

Background readings (optional)

  • Valsiner, J. (1998). The guided mind. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press.
  • Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in minds and societies. New Delhi: Sage.
  • Valsiner, J (2014). An invitation to cultural psychology. London: Sage. [Italian edition: Valsiner, J. (2017). Mente e cultura: La psicologia come scienza dell’uomo. Roma: Carrocci Editore]
  • Lyra, M. and Pinheiro, M. (Eds.) (2018). Cultural Psychology as Basic Science: Dialogues with Jaan Valsiner. Cham, CH: Springer.
  • Valsiner, J. (2018). Higher education: From intellectual asylum and fulfilling of social orders to creating arenas for scientific revolutions in J. Valsiner, A. Lutsenko, A.,and A. Antoniouk (Eds.), Sustainable futures for higher education: The making of knowledge makers (pp. 327–340) Cham, CH: Springer
  • Valsiner, J. (2019). Hyper-generalization by the human mind: The role of sign hierarchies in meaning-making processes. Hans-Kilian-Preis 2017. Giessen: PsychoSozial Verlag.

The event is supported by the (European Union) European Regional Development Fund (Tallinn University’s ASTRA project, TLU TEE – Tallinn University as a promoter of intelligent lifestyle and Estonian Academy of Arts ASTRA project, EKA LOOVKÄRG).