Genius: Perspectives on Artistic Creation - HART6840

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


This innovative module examines artistic creation from historical, philosophical and practice-based perspectives. It examines topics such as the development of the idea of genius in ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy, the Romantic and Kantian conceptions of genius, and the "democratisation" of the notion, culminating in the idea that everyone has the capacity for artistic creativity, as expressed in the work of mid-twentieth century thinkers such as John Dewey and Erich Fromm. It looks at how the concepts of genius and creativity came under attack from “theory” later in the twentieth century, and considers the recent resurgence of interest in creativity, in academia and the broader culture. Students will also take part in exercises designed to foster artistic creativity. These will include a selection of approaches such as Surrealist, Bauhaus and Oulipo methods for encouraging creativity. These different perspectives will allow students to develop a well-rounded, critical and active understanding of the topic, and to understand – and perhaps develop – their own capacity for creativity.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 40
Private study hours: 260
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (1000 words) (30%)
Essay 2 (2500 words) (50%)
Seminar and Workshop Diary (20%)

Indicative reading

Roland Barthes, 'The Death of the Author', in Roland Barthes, Image Music Text, edited and translated by Stephen Heath, London: Fontana Press, 1977, pp. 142–148.
Margaret A. Boden, The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1990.
John Dewey, Art as Experience, New York: Perigee Books, 2009, esp. ch. 4.
Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life, Christchurch, NZ: Hazard Press, 2003.
Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, ed. Paul Guyer, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Mathews, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000, esp. sections 46–50.
Rosalind E. Krauss, 'The Originality of the Avant-Garde’, in Rosalind E. Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1986.
Michael Krausz, Denis Dutton and Karen Bardsley (eds.), The Idea of Creativity, Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2009.
Darrin M. McMahon, Divine Fury: A History of Genius, New York: Basic Books, 2013.
Harold Rosenberg, ‘The American Action Painters’, in Harold Rosenberg, The Tradition of the New, London: Thames & Hudson, 1962.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 5 students will be able to:

- gain an introduction to the historical and philosophical understanding of artistic creation;
- understand some models for the informed critical analysis of genius and creativity;
- practice and reflect upon some methods used to foster creativity in art education;
- demonstrate an understanding of the interdisciplinary scope of art history and the philosophy of art, and of the wide range of concepts and methods that are pursued by art historians and philosophers of art;


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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