The Invention of Creativity: The Emergence of a Discourse

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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.

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Articles (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Camilla Nelson, University of Notre Dame

Camilla Nelson lectures in Communications at the University of Notre Dame, Australia, and is a former lecturer in Creative Practices at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is the author of two novels, Crooked, which was shortlisted in the 2009 Ned Kelly Awards, and Perverse Acts, for which she was named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists of the Year. Camilla has been a judge for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Kathleen Mitchell Award. She has a Doctorate of Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney.