Our first major paper (1200-1500 words) builds on the “Coming to Terms with Creativity” short assignment and asks you to put multiple texts into conversation with each other. You can work with any combination of Lessig, Lang, Johnson, McRobbie, and Lynch (Rogers and Pharrell, too), and you are also welcome to use other texts from outside of class. Include at least three texts overall and at least two of our class texts.
Your goal in this paper is to make an argument about the texts you discuss, focusing in particular on their uses and limitations. Your argument should do the following:
- Identify which aspects of these texts’ thinking on creativity you find most useful, persuasive, and insightful, and explain what makes this understanding helpful;
- Identify which aspects of these texts’ thinking you find limited, and explain what the approach overlooks or fails to address.
In order to support and substantiate your argument, it will help to perform Harris’s other moves for “coming to terms” and some new ones as you put the texts into conversation:
- Define the authors’ projects, noting their aims, methods, and materials;
- Quote keywords and passages from the texts, explaining their significance;
- Note where the authors’ thinking intersects and diverges, where they agree and disagree, where their thinking overlaps or goes in different directions.
These challenges give you an opportunity to incorporate your own thinking on creativity, particularly if you agree with something but want to expand on it or if you find that some idea or perspective is lacking from the conversation. You are welcome to incorporate examples to further illustrate how these perspectives on creativity are useful or limited.
As you develop your thinking, keep in mind Harris’s note about opposition: “In writing as an intellectual, then, you need to push beyond the sorts of bipolar oppositions (pro or con, good or evil, guilty or innocent) that frame most of the arguments found on editorial pages and TV talk shows. Intellectual writers usually work not with simple antitheses (either x or not-x) but with positive opposing terms—that is, with words and values that don’t contradict each other yet still exist in some real and ongoing tension” (25). In this sense, you should not argue for or against one particular understanding of creativity. You are trying to complicate and enrich our thinking about creativity, not simplify it.