Creativity in contemporary cultural production
Both 'genius' and 'creativity' are terms often used in contemporary Western culture in relation to many different forms of work, such as music, science, art and literature. However, the extent to which the notion of 'creative genius' is either useful or relevant in contemporary Western culture is not certain and remains an object of discussion and debate. Duncan Petrie (1991:1) says, "the idea of creativity is bound up with notions of change, development and process." He believes creativity is a cultural process which, though implemented through individuals, is structured by constraints, both socially and materially. It can be argued that creativity occurs as a result of an individual having exceptional talent and using it to produce something original and innovative. Petrie says that it is through individuals that social change occurs, "whether or not the critic holds 'creative activity' to be structurally compelled or the product of human volition" (1991:1). This essay will examine firstly whether the notion of 'creative genius' is relevant in contemporary cultural production by examining arguments as to why certain individuals create exceptional work. Is it as a result of some unknown force, their own biological or psychologically determined ability, external social and material factors, or perhaps a combination of all of these things? The essay will then go on to look at whether the growth of capitalism and the culture/cultural industries has had an impact on notions of creative genius. It will consider whether production processes inhibit the creative process. The work of Adorno and Horkheimer will be examined along with more recent work, such as that of Sara Cohen. Have technological advancements reduced the importance of creative individuals, or has the nature of 'creative genius' simply shifted as the cultural industries have become increasingly important and influential? The essay will also consider...
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