Where does creativity come from, how does it work, and how can we deepen its role in our own lives?
Geniuses are said to possess it. Self-help books offer to teach it. Both the arts and the sciences celebrate it. It sits at the heart of some of our oldest myths and is the subject of up-to-the-minute neuroscientific research. Some say it comes in momentary flashes; others call it a way of life. Some identify it as the key to deep fulfillment; others claim that it entails intense suffering. Many agree that it sets us apart as a species—but does it? What is creativity? How have humans made sense of it across centuries and cultures, and what role might it play in our lives today? Exploring creativity takes us into the very question of what makes us human, and the answers we discover can help equip us for the lives we will lead beyond the classroom. This course casts a wide net, crossing disciplines as it takes us from ancient treatises on the art of poetic composition to modern brain scans, and from centuries-old debates over intellectual property to present-day questions of artificial intelligence. Is creativity the same as originality? Can plagiarism be creative? Should one own the fruits of one’s creative labor? What happens in the brain at moments of creative insight? Can creativity be “hacked”? We will hear directly from practicing artists and experts as we explore these questions through regular, small-stakes creative experiments and a creative final project. By course’s end, you will have a deeper sense of where creativity belongs in your own life—and of how you might share what you have discovered with others.