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Creative Process

I teach the a general education course with the Center for Integrative Studies of the Arts and Humanities on the Creative Process. From the syllabus:

To be human means to be creative. Although creativity is central to our species, it was not until the late 19th century that the concept of creativity emerged in the public consciousness and became a subject of research. Creativity and the process leading to creative artifacts cannot be overemphasized. Andreas Schleicher, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading educational thinkers, recently ventured that young people could benefit more from the skills gained through creativity than test-based learning. He even goes so far as to say that “in the fourth industrial revolution, arts may become more important than maths.”

            This course will shine a light on the creative process. Students will examine the role that creativity plays in society and in the life of an individual, in the arts as well as in the sciences, from a variety of theoretical viewpoints (social, cultural, biological, evolutionary). However, we will not content ourselves with delving into the theory. Instead, this course approaches the creative process from a practical perspective as well in order to exercise the creative “muscles.” The lowly art form of puppetry seems to be a fitting way to do so. It is uniquely situated at the juncture of the Arts and the STEM fields to facilitate a productive conversation about the creative process in the arts and sciences.

            In the US, puppetry has been strongly associated with the realm of childhood and has been regarded as a lower art form. This is a cultural phenomenon not shared across cultures and is slowly changing in the US itself through mainstream productions such as Lion King and War Horse. Puppetry is also alive and well on screen, not only in Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, but also in the robot TARS in Interstellar (2014), or in Gravity (2013). We are in fact witnessing what some call a “puppet moment” in our cultural history. Therefore, this course aims at acquainting students with the world of puppetry, its types, uses, world traditions, contemporary forms, and the cognition involved. In order to activate and uncover creative processes at work, the class will simultaneously engage in a class puppetry arts project. The semester concludes with a service learning activity with grade school students.

Scene from Newfoundland Puppet Collective rehearsal