Module Information

Module Identifier
ENM6420
Module Title
Understanding Creativity
Academic Year
2016/2017
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 2
External Examiners
  • Professor Kevin Mills (Professor - University of South Wales)
  • Dr Paul McDonald (Senior Lecturer - University of Wolverhampton)
 
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars
 

Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay Assignment  1 x 2500 word creative piece or 10 pages of poetry, plus a 2500 word essay or 1 x 5000 word essay  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit missing or failed essay  Resubmit 1 x 2500 word creative piece or 10 pages of poetry, plus a 2500 word essay or 1 x 5000 word essay  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an awareness of a arange of theoretical perspectives on creativity;

Display (where relevant) a theoretical understanding of their own creative processes.

Demonstrate, in creative work and/pr critical prose, how creative writing/literary analysis can be used to explore, think through, and interrogate theories of creativity.

Aims

This module offers students the opportunity to critically engage with the concept of creativity from a range of theoretical perspectives. Students will follow a set programme of theoretical reading, and be expected to carry out preparatory work each week geared to the focal concerns of the coming session. The module will consist of ten 2-hour seminars. It will be an alternative assessment module, open to both Creative Writing and English Literature students.

Brief description

Understanding Creativity explores the concept of creativity and creative practice from a wide range of theoretical perspectives, including: psychoanalysis, psychology, gender theory, cultural materialism, postcolonialism, and myth studies. The core theoretical readings will be supplemented by a selection of writings from literary practitioners, and students will be encouraged to relate key ideas to their own creative and/or critical practice as appropriate. The module is designed to accommodate both Creative Writing and English Literature students, and incorporates an alternative assessment model.

Estimated Student Worload
Contact time: 20 hours
Preparation for seminars: 20 hours
Reading of set texts: 60 hours
Research for assignments: 80 hours
Writing assignments: 20 hours

Content

Seminar 1: Muses, Myths, and Stories of Creation
Introductory session offering a survey of mythic and religious conceptions of creativity and creation.

Seminar 2: Creativity as Inspiration
Discussion of various historical and contemporary notions of ‘inspiration’, drawing particularly on the Romantics, and H.D.’s ‘Notes on Thought and Vision’.

Seminar 3: Creativity as Sublimation
Examination of early psychoanalytic ideas regarding the relationship between art, unconscious phantasy, and the process of sublimation. The session will focus in particular on Sigmund Freud’s ‘Creative Writers and Day-dreaming’ (1908) and ‘Leonardo da Vinci and A Memory of His Childhood’ (1910).

Seminar 4: Creativity as Reparation
Building on the previous week’s discussion of creativity and unconscious phantasy, this seminar will examine Melanie Klein’s theory (put forward in her 1929 essay ‘Infantile Anxiety-Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse’) that the creative act has a reparative function. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse will be used to explore this theory.

Seminar 5: Creativity as Playing
Discussion of D.W. Winnicott’s linking (in Playing and Reality) of adult creativity to children’s playing, and how both are dependent on a facilitating environment. Poems by Wordsworth and Wallace Stevens will be used to explore this theory.

Seminar 6: Creativity as Encounter
In The Courage to Create (1975), existential psychologist Rollo May develops a concept of the creative act as existential ‘encounter’. This seminar will discuss this theory in light of the psychoanalytic approaches examined previously.

Seminar 7: Constraint and Flow
An exploration of how useful Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of ‘flow’ is to our understanding of the creative process. The seminar will also interrogate the relationship between creativity and constraint (especially as it relates to literary form).

Seminar 8: Creativity and Gender
An exploration of the relationship between gender and creativity from a range of theoretical (essentialist and anti-essentialist) perspectives. Discussions will draw on Woolf, Hélène Cixous, Jessica Benjamin, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis.

Seminar 9: Creativity and Exile
This seminar will discuss the ways in which geographical displacement might inhibit or stimulate creativity. Discussions will draw on James Baldwin and Henry Louis Gates Jr. among others.

Seminar 10: Class, Culture and the Gift Economy
Drawing on Raymond Williams among others, this seminar will examine how different modes of creative activity are valued in the dominant culture, and how the modern marketplace might impact on the creative act itself. Finally we will discuss Lewis Hyde’s argument for considering creative art a gift, and not a commodity.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Oral, through seminar discussion Written, through assignment
Improving own Learning and Performance Through reflecting on how theoretical understanding can be used to improve the students' own creative practice.
Information Technology Through Blackboard and wordprocessing skills
Personal Development and Career planning Critical self-reflection and development of transferable skills in communicatiion and research
Problem solving Through dealing with problems of research and writing
Research skills Independent and directed research for seminar preparation and work on summative assessment tasks
Subject Specific Skills Advanced research skills and conceptual knowledge in key fields of creative writing and literary study
Team work Group work in seminars

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 7