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Representing Creative Processes

ENGL 475.640
W 5:30-8:10


We live daily in a world of created objects, some of which we select to display in museums, galleries, classrooms, and other public sites. Yet there is relatively little public or intellectual space where the work of making objects is widely visible. We often assume that we can't describe creative processes. This course attempts description. It challenges us to find ways to recover and represent creative processes, to develop questions that need to be asked about those processes, and to reflect on the imaginative, cultural, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of creative work and its display. We'll trace in some detail records of how a scientific, a literary, and a visual object were made. These will be Watson and Crick's model of DNA, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and several works of contemporary sculpture.

Our sources will include life-writings by and about makers; materials that survive the making-up process, including drafts, notes, sketches, models, proposals, and grant applications; and legal documents pertaining to the production of objects, especially liability, patent, and copyright law. We'll pause to look at emulation and collaboration in creative acts, signatures, the pursuit of beauty, some distinctions and common features of creating in the arts and sciences, the distinctions made between the studio and the gallery, and recent attempts to blur those distinctions. Guest speakers and at least one site visit to a local gallery are planned.

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