The Invention of Creativity: The Emergence of a Discourse

Camilla Nelson


Creativity is increasingly cited as the key to social and economic change in the twenty-first century. It is also a very modern concept—making its first appearance as an English noun in 1875. This essay investigates the cultural construction of creativity in the context of the history of ideas. It understands creativity not as an innate human instinct or ability, but as an idea that emerges out of specific historical moments, shaped by the discourses of politics, science, commerce, and nation. It shifts the ground of analysis away from the naturalised models that have traditionally dominated the field of creative practice research, in order to highlight the historicity of a concept that is more commonly deemed to be without history.


Creativity; history; art; literature; culture

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