In this project you will read one full-length biography and at least two other sources regarding the life of a highly creative individual. You may choose an individual in any field as long as the person is generally recognized to have made new and original contributions to some discipline. You will analyze that person’s experiences based on your readings, examining the way his or her characteristics and activities are similar to, or different than, those described in creativity theories.
1. First, you’ll need to select a person for your project. Consider carefully which individual you’d like to study. You might want to browse the biography section of your local library or online lists of biographies such as this one at Fact Monster
(Links to an external site.)
for ideas. But be careful: Being a celebrity is not the same as being creative. You will need to describe why the person you choose is considered creative, so make sure to select someone who has made an original contribution to some field. The person does not need to be well known, except to the degree necessary to identify three available sources about him or her.
2. Next, select your resources. You will need one book-length biography or autobiography. You may find that autobiographical material may be even more useful for this assignment than a biography. Your other two sources may be books, articles, websites, artifacts (for example, an essay by the person you are studying) or any other credible source. Wikipedia is not an acceptable source. The same is true of other wiki sites, as they are not subject to peer review and editing. Be sure to consider the origins of any web materials used to make sure they are credible sources. Remember, most published materials are subject to peer and/or editorial review. Materials on the web require only an author and a computer. This does not mean web materials can’t be credible and extremely useful. It means that finding information from an online display at the Smithsonian is much more valuable than information found on a blog with an unknown author. Check your sources!
3. Read and analyze the information. As you read, consider how it links (or contradicts) the theories and information you are reading.
Think about questions such as the following.
How did you identify this individual as creative? By what definitions would he or she be considered creative? What type of creativity does the person display?
Are there some theories of creativity that would support this person as creative more than other theories?
In what ways might this person’s environment have influenced the development of his or her creativity? Are there cultural influences evident in the person’s work?
Did the person demonstrate creativity in childhood? What do we know about their work and behavior in school?
Were characteristics of the person’s discipline (field) at the time important in the development of the individual’s creativity?
Who were the people who were most influential in the development of the person’s creativity? Was the individual part of group creativity? Were there individuals who presented roadblocks?
What obstacles did the creative person overcome? How? How did that influence his or her creativity?
How are this person’s personality characteristics similar to or different from those often associated with creativity?
Is there any relationship between this person’s creative efforts and evidence of physical or mental illness?
What evidence of motivation (intrinsic and/or extrinsic) does this person’s work show?
Did this person show evidence of creative activity across his or her lifespan, or during a more limited time period?
Does this person show evidence of creativity in one discipline or multiple disciplines?
4. Write an analytical description of the development of your subject’s creativity, making clear ties to the course readings. Do NOT simply answer the questions above as a string of separate responses, but taken them into consideration when writing a cohesive analysis. It will not be possible to answer all questions for all subjects, and not every question will be equally important across all individuals. Your goal is to provide evidence of creativity in the individual’s life and work, and to make ties to course content.
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