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LibrlSt 722: Special Topics in Contemporary Culture
Robert Schwartz, Professor of Philosophy

The Artist Creates: The Problems and Processes of Artistic Creation

Course Description
The focus of this course will be on the nature of artistic creation. What is the creative process like in actual practice? The emphasis will not be on artistic "bursts of insight," "intuition," "or "creative leaps," but on the cognitive effort, thought, and decision-making that go into the creation of art. What problem is the artist trying to solve, what are the constraints and obstacles to be faced, and how does one go about beginning and completing an artwork? The guiding idea will be to examine the production of works of art as a type of problem solving-the perspiration as well as the inspiration involved in devising novel solutions to well defined problems. The course will be interdisciplinary through and through, both in spanning the many forms of art and in articulating the likenesses and differences between the arts and sciences. Guest artists from diverse fields will explore the processes and problems involved in their own creative work.

For example, a poet might bring in drafts of a poem and discuss where things began and how the final version emerged from earlier efforts. What was added, what was discarded, and why? What went into choosing the form, length, and voice employed? How did the poet know it was completed? Similarly, a photographer might bring in all the pictures taken for a book or exhibit and discuss the process of selection, as well as what determined the size of the print, cropping, color versus black and white, type of film, finish, or development.

The bulk of the course, approximately ten meetings, will be devoted to presentations by guest artists and discussions with the visitor. In other meetings, the seminar will discuss such issues as: What makes something a work of art and what do we mean by creativity? What is the problem- solving model of thought, and are there significant differences between artistic creativity and scientific creativity in the way problems arise and are solved? Is there an important distinction the arts and crafts? If an original and forgery are indistinguishable, are they alike in artistic value?

At present, a filmmaker, a poet, a translator, and a photographer have been scheduled to make presentations. Plans are to include artists from a number of other fields such as stage, music, architecture, dance, music composition, and musical performance.

Preliminary List of Readings (Selections)

The guest artists will assign advance readings related to their presentations, and in some cases preparation may include listening to music, viewing a building or other works of art, etc.

John Dewey, Art and Experience; Ernst Gombrich, Art and Illusion; Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art; Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution; Gaut and Livingston, The Creation of Art; Barron, Montuori, ed, Creators on Creating; Howard Gardner, various writings on the nature of creativity and issues related to education.

Wednesday, 6:30-9:10pm
Curtin Hall 939

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