Creativity

Course description

What is creativity? What does it mean to be creative? Where do new ideas come from? (Or is there even such a thing as a “new idea”?) Throughout history, artists, writers, psychologists, musicians, scientists and philosophers have tried to pinpoint that moment of creation, the spark from which original thought emanates. The ancient Greeks believed creative inspiration was bestowed by the nine Muses. Sigmund Freud theorized that creativity arises from unlocked unconscious desires. Albert Einstein held creativity to be a gift of the intuitive—and not the rational—mind.  Though conventional wisdom often treats the creative mind as an innate ability, studies suggest that creativity is less a gift than a studied practice available to us all, and that through measured steps, we can all hone, refine and expand our creative potential.

In this course, while we examine the ways artists and scientists from a number of fields document, explore, and interrogate the creative process, we will explore the creative processes that fuel our own writing as well. We will engage a number of creative strategies as we create our own original compositions, paying careful attention to the writing process, addressing questions about where our ideas come from, how we organize those ideas into writing, and how we draft, revise, and overcome obstacles in the creative process.  Finally, we will explore the ways creativity manifests in our writing through analysis, assertion, association and stylistic expression. Though college courses frequently distinguish creative writing from other forms, this course will explore the ways that all writing is a creative act.

Rationale for Writing Assignments

The first assignment asks writers to carefully summarize and evaluate sources in order to make a claim about how they experience their own creative process at work. This analytical narrative encourages writers to pay particular attention to the use of evidence, audience considerations, structure, and revision. The second assignment extends the attention to these elements by introducing writers to the Toulmin model for argumentation, rooted in an understanding of logical structures and fallacies. It focuses on integrating sources, balancing personal experience and theory, and using quotations effectively. The third assignment, the annotated bibliography, will be distributed simultaneously with essay #4, the segmented research essay. Building on the library research skills covered when composing the annotated bibliography, the segmented research essay asks writers to complete a comparative analysis of outside sources in order to arrive at a theory for their own creative processes. It aims to give writers the skills to showcase how their semester-long reflections on their creative process have evolved.

The materials and description for this course were revised in 2012.

Course Documents

Previous versions of the syllabus: (2009, 2010)

 

 

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